Previewing the Pacific Division
I asked some very bad ass lady bloggers from the pacific division to give our blog a preview of how they saw their teams and the pacific division going down this season. It’s an all star lineup for sure and you should add their blogs to your blogroll if you haven’t already. We have…
Patty in Dallas from Penalty Killing for (obvs) the Dallas Stars
SKeleven from Ducks and Pucks for the Anaheim Ducks
Connie from A Queen Among Kings for the LA Kings
OnyxStarr from Hip Shot Blog for the Phoenix Coyotes
Gray and Minako from Couchtarts for the San Jose Sharks
1) How do you see your team doing this season?
Patty in Dallas
It’s so hard to tell. The Stars have a new coach and a new philosophy, supposedly, so I don’t know which way it’s going to go. It could be very good or it could be very, very bad. It depends on when you ask me, which way I think it will go. Right now I’m thinking they might surprise some people and do well. But ask me again tomorrow.
With some big roster moves, Chris Pronger out, Joffrey Lupul back and Saku Koivu joining the Ducks, I think fans are in for a big treat. Offensively, the Ducks are stacked. With the top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, the Ducks are blessed with 3 young guys who have developed chemistry with one another and have more than enough skill for an entire roster. In addition, the Ducks boosted their offensive power by bringing back Joffrey Lupul and adding some more Finn to Teemu Selanne by bringing on Saku Koivu. Depth on offense is not a question…the defense however might be sticky. Scott Niedermayer will continue to be Scott Niedermayer, and I think the Ducks are looking/hoping that Ryan Whitney will be able to fill the hole known as Pronger. With James Wisniewski in the mix and youngin’ Luca Sbisa, there is a great chance that the defense will make it through. Goaltending is a question mark as the Ducks don’t have a clear cut #1…but possibly have 2 top goal tenders in the mix is not something to complain about. The Ducks have options…not many teams are as lucky.
The Kings will show they have the ability to maintain consistency more than they tried to show last season where they ended with a 34-37-11 record. This is obviously horrendous and nowhere near the record a team needs in order to make the post-season. This summer the Kings shed unwanted players and added some key pieces. New additions Ryan Smyth and Rob Scuderi take the place of Kyle Quincey, Kyle Calder, Tom Preissing, Matt Moulson, Denis Gauthier, and team/fan-favorite Derek Armstrong. Scuderi will add a solid defensive presence and Smyth will get those dirty goals in front of the net. The latter is the type of player they flat out needed while Scuderi is adding to the sick D-Core of the Kings.
I’m bettin they snag that 7th place berth for the west. People keep focusing on the off ice issues, the boys have other ideas. The staff does too. We’ll be using the summer circus for impetus, for a springboard to show the world what we’re made of. The Yotes have too much pride and now have the much needed new coaching and new system (and the players to back it up). We managed to make it to 5th and stay in the hunt for 1/2 the 08 season, look for the Yotes to return to that form and stay up in the top spots in 09.
To be boringly honest, I have NO IDEA! This team is so different and with last year’s early bow out, it feels likes there’s been a bit of a culture change as well. Will the team gel? Will they be able to finally figure out how to play a full 60 minutes? Will they finally realize that they’re big and can hit people? Will people continue to run into Douglas Murray thinking that he’s made of flesh and not brick? And when they do, how far will they fly this year? And if they bounce off him and into the net, does that count as a goal for the Sharks?
I hope they do well. I think it will be a battle but I’d like to see them take the Pacific.
In my dreams, Dany Heatly wins the Rocket Richard, Joe wins the Hart, Nabby (finally) wins the Vezna, Patty (finally) wins the Lady Bing, Joe Pa wins the Selke, Dan Boyle wins the Norris, Jamie McGinn wins the Calder, and JR gets signed to a short contract so he can be the second guy to touch The Cup when the Sharks win the Stanley Cup in June. Fantasies are awesome aren’t they?
Back in reality, on paper the Sharks have the inside edge on winning The Cup this year. But years of unfullfilled promised has colored me somewhat pessimistic and I’m not making any plans for a parade in June. If all goes right, this team will have some of the top point getters in the league and a solid defense in front of the kind of Nabby we all know exists. But, this team also has the possiblity to be a chemistry experiement gone wrong. The team is way too different from last year to be able to judge them on past success. And yet, despite not wanting to get my hopes up, I think the Sharks will win the Pacific this year and go deep into the playoffs.
That being said, all I am asking Santa for on Hockey Christmas is a season full of excitement, good times at the tank, and a reason to get a Jamie McGinn jersey.
2) How do you see the Pacific division shaping up?
Patty in Dallas
The Pacific could be all topsy-turvy this season, but we think that every season. It’ll probably be the Sharks at the top and the Kings at the bottom again. I think the Kings might move up this year, though, and maybe even the Coyotes. I am really pulling for the Coyotes now that Dave Tippett is the coach. Without any games under our belt yet, I’m going to think that the Sharks will win it again, and everybody else will be thrashing out the rest of the division until the last week of the season. (I also think the Sharks will have trouble in the playoffs again.)
If the Kings don’t making the playoffs this year, it’ll be because they just fell short. Phoenix, unfortunately, will probably be too overwhelmed by headlines to make enough of an impact. As usual, I think Dallas will continue to be a question mark capable of going either way. I can see the Sharks continuing to dominate the league, but they’ll probably resemble the Sharks of the 2nd half of last season rather than the first.
The Pacific Division is usually stacked with three heavy favorites in the Sharks, Ducks, and Stars. This season may end differently in that the Sharks won’t finish first and the Kings won’t finish 5th. The Coyotes are utterly hopeless while the Ducks remain hard-hitting. The Stars will be the mystery now that they’re employing Marc Crawford. As a Kings fan, I can only laugh at that hiring.
The Kings finished the season with an embarrassing 79 points, which equaled the Coyotes in points but not wins. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the Division will stack up now that that Kings have life within the roster.
Sharks – May have huge issues getting their crap back together. The Patty captaincy dump may have big consequences. They lost a couple of key components grabbing the Heatly deal. They will still be tuff in season but round 2 looks like a pipedream again this season.
Ducks – Hiller will still be in net to pull the duck fat out of any fires. They didn’t lose anything that would derail them from their usual cup hunt. (Pronger aside, they still have those bangin, hittin monsters Perry and Getzlaf and thats where they do the most damage anyway)
Coyotes – With a very limited budget and a circus of epic porportions behind them, the blue collar Coyotes improved just a little bit every where. Will it be enough? I think so.
Kings – Was there a shred of young talent these guys didn’t grab? Their last minute goalie pick up may be an issue but overall after the Flames, these guys have done the best improvement wise.
Crazily. This division seems to be tight every year.
All I know is I will continue to hate games against the Ducks, be annoyed by the Coyotes, boggled by the Kings and in love with taunting Turco.
To be honest, I’m always afraid of this division. Despite it’s general habit of suck, it also has the potential to kick you in the ass. (See also: 2009 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals) I can’t say that any team is out of the running this early in the season especially after the Ducks made that incredible run last season. If I had to put money on it, I would figure that all the drama will too much distraction for Phoenix and that they’ll finish last. I haven’t seen anything from Dallas that would convince me that they will finish better than 4th. I think the Kings young talent is going to get them a playoff spot, and I think the Ducks will finish second to the Sharks.
Then again, it’s a looooong season and all the Pacific teams have the ability to surprise me and go on a crazy winning run.
3) Who on your team looks poised for a breakout season?
Patty in Dallas
I’m probably the only one, but I think Fabian Brunnstrom will break out this year. I’ve been hearing that he’s struggling in the preseason, but I think once things get going he’ll take off.
I’d hate to say Bobby Ryan, but I’m going to anyway. He already had what I think some would consider a break out season…but with experience under his belt, chemistry with two amazing forwards in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf…there is very little question in my mind that he’s not going to out do himself again this year. He’s getting stronger, smarter and quicker on the ice. As long as he stays healthy…look out!
On an underdog note…I think our defensive forwards are going to impress. Mike Brown, Petteri Nokelainen, Ryan Carter, and Todd Marchant are all speedy, scrapy, tough guys. Given the Ducks reputation of taking too many penalities…these guys will be given plenty of time to make names for themselves!
I also think Hiller is going to take over. He showed everyone what he was capable of last season and I don’t think it was a fluke.
There is potential for all of the kids to have huge seasons, but the biggest jump from last season into this season will be Jack Johnson. Drew Doughty’s sickness took virtually all the attention causing Jack to be hidden for much of the season. The chatter this produced didn’t make me feel confident at all that he would sign a contract GM Dean Lombardi was comfortable with. But he signed and proved in preseason that he could be a difference maker.
Mueller seems like that guy. After having a great rookie season, Peter ‘shoot out money’ Mueller did everything wrong that a rook can manage as far as off season training. Got too bulky, got too slow then proceeded to get hurt at every shift. Look for him to return to rookie form and tear up the ice with a hot stick and speed to burn.
Runner up: Keith ‘the candle’ Yandle. Yands will be looking to lose that nickname (given to him by fans who watched him get *burned* on both ends of the ice). Ken Klee got the boy making better defensive decisions and Vandemeer will finish the job by teachin him how to throw his body around with authority. He can already hold his own offensively and expect even more point production from this deceptively quiet little time bomb.
If McGinn makes is up, the kid is going to be fantastic.
The Sharks have a few young guys that could be really fantastic. Jamie McGinn had some strong time with the team last year and a nice training camp. Benn Ferriro had an awesome camp and has the potential to be something special. And I fully expect Patrick Marleau to have an career year to quiet those who have been doubting him.
4) Who is your hockey boyfren on your team?
Patty in Dallas
Um… I’m kind of between boyfriends right now, since mine retired this summer after winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. I have a couple of candidates, but I hate to jinx them before the season even starts. It’s very hard to choose, I’ll just tell you. He’ll probably be a defenseman. Or a forward.
Ah, well…I usually keep my lips tight about this, but that Ryan Carter sure is a cutie!
As for a “favorite”, my friends have forbidden me to chose (long story)… And in all honesty, it’s always hard to pick outside of the easy answer of Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan or Scott Niedermayer….so I’ll say I’m really excited about Saku Koivu (Especially since we’re both SK11) and a full season of James Wisniewski. I should end the list there…cause I could go on and on picking favorites!
Jarret Stoll for being awesome at faceoffs!!!
Too old to have a playerBF but my favorite player is Zbynek Michalek. Z is the hardest working, steadiest, most underrated defenseman in the league. Never hesitates to sacrifice himself for the good of the team. Can always be counted on to hold the line, land a beautiful outlet pass right on the tape and be calm , cool and collected while doing it. (for the silly part…) He’s also cute as a button too which doesn’t hurt at all. LOL We lovingly call him swamp butt cuz the kid sweats out a uni like no other player can.
Ryane Clowe, Jaime McGinn, and I love shouting JOE PAH! so I’ll say Pavleski counts too.
lol Who isn’t? But seriously, Torrey Mitchell is my favorite player, but I have affection to Clowe, Pavelski, and Jamie McGinn is moving into that group slowly, but surely.