Well as the Christmas holiday is approaching, fans around the league will be celebrating the holidays, and I am sure most will be making some Christmas wishes on behalf of their favorite team. So this week, I will look at each of the divisions on a different day, looking at where they are, where they expected to be, and what they would wish for if they could sit on Santa’s lap.
I will start today with the Pacific Division:
San Jose Sharks (T-1st in Pacific Division, 17-10-3)
Where they are: The Sharks retooled in the off-season, trading away Dany Heatley and Devon Setoguchi in separate deals and bringing in Martin Havlat and Brent Burns. They are tied with Dallas for top spot in the division, and based on divisional ranking they sit 3rd, but their point total would place them tied for 7th in the conference.
Where they expected to be: Definitely higher than the seeding they would enjoy (if they weren’t ranked as the division leader). This club was supposed to be a President’s Trophy contender and playoff sure-thing. I believe they have to be disappointed with the performance of both Havlat and Burns so far.
CHRISTMAS WISH: For the club to be firing on all cylinders come April, regarless of standings. This team should be a playoff team when all is said and done, and with good health and solid depth this team could make some noise in the post-season.
Dallas Stars (T-1st in Pacific Division, 18-12-1)
Where they are: Dallas is sitting tied with the Sharks, but the weaker Pacific Division as it is they sit on the bubble of a playoff spot, battling with the Coyotes and Sharks for the coveted 3rd seed and a playoff berth.
Where they expected to be: On the outside looking in. They lost Brad Richards to free agency and didn’t really replace his lost offense. Coach Dave Tippett seems to doing it with smoke and mirrors in the big D.
CHRISTMAS WISH: A return to good health for Kari Lehtonen. The Finnish netminder has come into his own in Dallas and was a major reason the Stars spent a lot of time near the top of the conference. He will also be the factor in determining whether or not the Stars are playing in mid-april.
Phoenix Coyotes (3rd Pacific Division, 16-13-3)
Where they are: The Desert Dogs are fighting for the 8th playoff spot with their divisional rival Sharks and Stars. They trail both by 2 points, and all are starting to create a gap below them.
Where they expected to be: Another team that is exceeding expectations. Mike Smith has done an admirable job in replacing Ilya Bryzgalov which has allowed them to stay in the race.
CHRISTMAS WISH: An end to the ownership drama. This has gone on far too long, and finding an owner willing to keep the team in the Desert and spend money to create a fan base in Glendale is long overdue.
Los Angeles Kings (4th Pacific Division, 14-14-4)
Where they are: The Kings are in danger of losing touch with the pack for the playoffs. They are 5 points out and now have to adjust to a new coach and a new mentality when Darryl Sutter officially takes over on Tuesday.
Where they expected to be: This team was supposed to be ready to take the next step into the elite of the conference. They acquired the top-level forward they had been missing (Mike Richards) and the young core another year older and more experienced.
CHRISTMAS WISH: A return of the real Drew Doughty. The player who missed training camp due to a contract negotiation has been a shell of his former self. The leader of the blue line must step his game up in the second half for this team to have any chance.
Anaheim Ducks (9-18-5)
Where they are: This has been a disastrous season for the Ducks, one of only 2 clubs yet to reach double digits in wins. They have cost a coach his job and trade winds have swirled around Bobby Ryan.
Where they expected to be: With one of the top lines in the league, this club was supposed to be a playoff cinch with potential to be a playoff contender. Now they are a contender for the first overall pick.
CHRISTMAS WISH: Another sip from the Fountain of Youth for Teemu Selanne. The Finnish Flash has been the lone bright spot in a dismal season and has continued his amazing run, scoring at better than a point per game at age 41.
HERE’S HOPING THAT YOUR TEAM GETS WHAT IT WISHES FOR THIS CHRISTMAS!
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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