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Canada, AB • Canada •
I'm a homer, I will not even try defending myself when accused of it, but I have to seriously wonder if the Flames aren't projected first by default! Not to say they will be so good they can compare to the Detroit and San Jose's of the world...or even Chicago in my opinion (except in net). My Friends and I discussed this and some interesting N.W. division questions came up in regards to this:

Q: The sophomore oilers will come back better, that has to be expected, so why wouldn't Edmonton be considered just as much a threat?
A: Of Course they will be better! But by better Gagne getting 70 points and Cogs getting 60 won't win anyone a Stanley Cup, the Oilers look better this year and to me seem like the only real threat to the Flames. The addition of Khabibulin is the biggest deal breaker here. Which one shows up? If it's the bulin wall of the past few year then that could be trouble for them but if the bulin of last year is what they are getting then he's a touch goalie to beat.

Q:What is the biggest difference then between Edmonton and Calgary?
A: Obviously the defense. This was actually a strong point for Edmonton last year but it is still not at the caliber of the Flames D.

Q: What's wrong with Vancouver?
A: Well they have the best goalie in the league and two very consistent high end players in the sisters but aside from that it drops off. Where the oilers have a group of guys I would project for around the 60 point mark, the Canucks have a group around the 50 point mark (hodgson, burrows, demitra, kesler..). The biggest thing is they didn't get better in the off season, Sundin is gone, Ohlund is gone (iggy's mortal enemy) and they really did not get much going. I would hardly say Mikael Samuelsson is a big time addition.

Q: When it comes to coaching doesn't Quinn have an edge over Sutter given that he also has Renney with him?
A: Maybe. Sutter is the guy who coached the Devils to a very good campaign without the services of Brodeur for most of the season. Quinn has also been out of the game for a spell hence why Renney is even there, it will be interesting to see how long these two guys can keep from getting into some kind of philosophical disagreement.

Q: With the Wild gearing up for more offense are they a threat?
A: Any team that wants to go all out is a threat, you can't discount Havlat or Koivu but one has to wonder if all this open play won't wreak havoc with Backstrom like it did to Calgary in Kipper. Will Backstrom have a "just signed a massive contract!" year and be sub par? We'll see. I have a hard time seeing Nolan breaking by Regher...or bouwmeester...or dion...or anyone.

Q: Are the Avs really that bad?
A: Sadly yes. Aside from a few points of light they will have a long climb back to the top...

Q: So why Calgary?
A: Well with better coaching, a plan for the power play, a Defense that may be the best in the league, a defense first mind set to compliment it and scoring depth it's hard to say where they are weak. They did get better with Sutter and Bouwmeester coming in, Ollie here for an entire year will be a huge help. The other N.W. teams just didn't get any better and in some cases like Vancouver, probably got worse.

Filed Under:   Calgary   Edmonton   Vancouver   Wild   Colarado   Sutter   Sundin  
August 24, 2009 3:10 PM ET | Delete
I hate to say it, but I have to agree with you. Of course, we all know that System, and Team Work can sometimes trump skill, and the Canucks can win the division, but Calgary clearly has the superior skill in this race and they should win the division.
August 24, 2009 3:49 PM ET | Delete
August 24, 2009 4:27 PM ET | Delete
Seems pretty good to me. That said, I suspect the Canucks as things stand now will be slightly ahead of the Oilers due to superior goaltending and defensive awareness. Prediction:1. Calgary2. Vancouver3. Edmonton4. Minnesota5. ColoradoThat said, I'll probably be totally wrong.
August 24, 2009 5:13 PM ET | Delete
Good blog. I agree with everything you said. I'm thinking baring injuries it's Calgary's division this year.
August 25, 2009 4:26 AM ET | Delete
I have never before seen Flames, Oilers, and Canucks fans agree on anything, I'm abit frightened... well written, fully agree with you. Minnisotas the wild card in the division, you don't know quite what they'll do witha new "offensive" especially with a healthy brent burns to solidify the back end.
August 25, 2009 4:54 AM ET | Delete
Everyone is writing off Vancouver despite the fact they won the division last year with "the best goalie in the league" playing 20 fewer games than usual. Also, the Flames didn't upgrade as much as people claim in the offseason. They have a more defensive coach this year and lost an 80pt player up front (where they need the help). If they don't win the tight 2-1 games this year it'll be tough for them.
August 25, 2009 5:00 AM ET | Delete
That said, I still think they'll edge out Vancouver this year - maybe by winning their game on April 10th. And your comments about the other teams are bang on in my estimation.
August 25, 2009 12:42 PM ET | Delete
Thanks Elbow, I think the fact Jokinen came in late is also overlooked as a replacement for Camallerri because we saw them together in the playoffs. Van couver lost a couple key guys though and that is why I thought they slipped when they didn't replace them.
August 25, 2009 4:42 PM ET | Delete
Excellant blog! Like Slipfrawg said.. all the NW fans agreeing with each other? Whats happening here..? I agree with everything that you've said. Absolutely juiced when Ohlund didn't resign with the Canucks. Who subdues Iggy now?? Any suggestions..
August 26, 2009 7:59 PM ET | Delete
As a life long Flames fan, I'm afraid I have to disagree. Certainly, I love the addition of J-Bo and I think the Flames will be much better under the new coaching staff. That said, the (Div) champs are the still the (Div) champs until they are unseated. Last year with Looouuu hurt for a large portion of the season, they still won the Div. With the additions of Samuelson, Hodgson and now probably Schneider, I think they should just edge the Flames again. But, I hope I am wrong!
August 27, 2009 2:05 AM ET | Delete
That being said hifinance, they did win the div but they just barely with one player hurt and we just barely lost it with 5 players out. What happens if neither team had the injuries? Too bad we will never know.
August 27, 2009 7:33 PM ET | Delete
im a diehard flames fan living in vancouver so ive been keeping up on both teams. i agree with everything except the end result. vancouver has lacked talent for a couple years now according to the analysts and have managed to put together strong performances...preseason predictions are fun but im gonna take the show me stance on this one. heres hoping your right though!
August 28, 2009 4:14 PM ET | Delete
Van added two d today in Erhoff and schneider that will really help in front of Lou...too soon to write this blog maybe?? haha
August 29, 2009 4:10 AM ET | Delete
I am a life long oil fan and too agree on almost everything but clg scoring depth you say. I figure with cammy and Bert gone you guys lost alot of depth. Now you may say jokenin will make up for that but I think he is really overated as he proved at the end of the year for you guys. It's gonna be tight though. At least I hope. Lol
August 31, 2009 9:22 AM ET | Delete
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