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The New Northwest

Posted 3:35 PM ET | Comments 0
Most of the summer it's looked like the Flames will be the top team in the NW, no contest. They lost the division in the last two weeks of the season (Vancouver did not win it, when a team has to lose 4 of 5 to not win the division after blowing a big lead at the allstar break... they lost it) not to detract from Vancouvers spectacular finish. The adition of Jay Bowmester, a full overhaul of the coaching staff, and a full year of Jokinen looked like it would have put them into the top of the division with ease.

Today Vancouver made it alot more interesting. All offseason I've maintained Vancouver needs a better D to even qualify as a tier 2 team (after the SJ, Boston, Detroit etc.) losing Ohlund will hurt more then anyone was willing to admit, puck moving two way Dman with a thunderous shot. Add in Chritian Ehrhoff, Lukowhich, and Schnider, and the defense is a heck of alot stronger. (still lacking the Allstar's of Calgarys D) Really todays moves improve Van's PP and should take off some GA. Vancouver is still a wild card, Can Kesler and Burrows Repeat last years success? Can and will the Sedins carry the offence? and how far can Luongo take the team?

While I'm at it the rest of the NW.

Minny is the other wild card, I think everyones written them off already. They could be a playoff team, or they could challenge for 12-10 in the conference. New coach, new system, no more trap and 1 goal games, healthy Brent Burns, no Gaborik... not that he really had any substantial impact over the past two years due to injury, and the addition of Havlat. I'd say they're the darkhorse in the West.

Edmonton has a solid D, I like what Kevin Lowe did on the back end... and thats about all he did well. The forwards are a mess, over paid underachivers, over-hyped huge pressure. Lowes gone, Steve's in, Mactavish is gone, Quinn and Renney are in. The question is who will show up in Edmonton players living upto there potential, the same as it has been for the past few years, or a collapse and full overhaul from the allstar break through next summer.

Colorado will be competeing for Taylor Hall all year, after years of domination and trade deadline busts. Prospect demolishing (Guess which organization Sundin, and Reghr were drafted by) its time to rebuild. The forwards are starting to come together, but the closet seems pretty empty for D and goaltending.

The one problem with all this as the Canucks showed today a couple of additions can change the look of the team.

It'll be a fun year to watch, it's not the same division it was right after hte lockout, but it still has alot of potential Four big changes in the front of house portion fo the organizations, Vancouver is the only one with the same GM and Head coach as last year, which really means anything can happen.
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