2013 Predictions – The Western Conference


Well here it is, where I put my “reputation” on the line by picking where teams will finish in the standings after the 48 game season.  Last year I picked the Senators to finish 8th, while so many pundits picked them dead last.  I was right on that one, but missed the mark on some.  So without further ado, here are my picks for the Western Conference: (click on the team name to see my preview of each team)

1. Los Angeles Kings – Return the full team intact that won the Cup.  Slight hangover but the class of the Pacific Division.

2. Vancouver Canucks – The best duo in net.  Even if Luongo does get traded, this is a deep regular season powerhouse.  Secondary scoring will be a question mark early on with injuries to Booth and Kesler.

3. Chicago Blackhawks – Neck and neck with the Red Wings, the Hawks nudge them at the finish line.

4. Detroit Red Wings – Even without Lidstrom, the system works and the veteran team knows how to get the job done. Many people question the defensive depth, I am not one of them.

5. Phoenix Coyotes – How far can Smith carry the Coyotes again?

6. Minnesota Wild – The additions of Parise, Suter and Granlund mean a playoff spot, but still not in Vancouver’s league in the Northwest.

7. St. Louis Blues – In a tough battle against the Hawks and Wings. The goaltending can’t possibly repeat the amazing 2011-12, can it?

8. Nashville Predators – Suter’s loss is felt deeply, but the Preds are still a playoff team with Rinne and Weber.

The Kings will carry the momentum of the Stanley Cup and keeping the roster intact. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

9. San Jose Sharks – Sliding down the standings, era of dominance and expectation is over at the Shark Tank.

10. Edmonton Oilers – On the upswing, late season games will finally mean something as they push for the playoffs.

11. Anaheim Ducks – Can’t get back the magic of ’07 and seem to be in quicksand.

12. Dallas Stars – Additions of Jagr and Whitney help, but they are also both over 40 in a travel heavy West.  Need to get Benn signed soon to really compete.

13. Colorado Avalanche – Young Captain, young team, not quite ready yet.

14. Calgary Flames – Aging leaders,  mean possible trades and falling in the standings.

15. Columbus Blue Jackets – The doormats for the Central powers in Chi, Det, StL and Nsh. Not in a position to compete any time soon. Erixson not making the team makes the Nash trade look even worse.

Basically, there are 3 levels of teams in the West.  The top tier, which consists of Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago and LA.  They are locks for the playoffs and all have a good chance to make some noise once they get there.

The next group is a big one, and consists of Nashville, St. Louis, Minnesota, Dallas, Edmonton, Calgary, Colorado, Phoenix, San Jose and Anaheim.  Any one of these teams could conceivably, especially in a short season, catch a wave and make the playoffs.  4 of them will, while 6 of them will be left disappointed and the feeling that close isn’t good enough.  I had to choose 4, and I went with the clubs I did above.  You could make a case for each of the other 6 contenders, and I would listen to the argument, and might even agree with you.

The 3rd and final  group consists of just 1 team – The Columbus Blue Jackets.  This is the only club that I can confidently write off from day 1 as having no shot at making the playoffs.  The fact that they play almost half of their season against Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Nashville is almost a death sentence from the first drop of the puck.  They will probably