Western Conference Roundup

1 03 2012

Dear end of the NHL regular season,

Try not to sneak up on me like this.  You know I occasionally have heart attacks of epic proportions, and my doctor doesn’t exactly like you right now.  And neither do I.

That’s right, ladies and gents, it’s almost time to say goodbye to half of the NHL until September.  Aaaaaaand commence the fangirl sobs.

So, since L and S have so wonderfully wrapped up the Eastern Conference race for you all, and since I live the closest to the Mississippi River, get ready for the Western Conference Playoffs:  Reader’s Digest Version.

IRRELEVANT TEAMS:

Every year at the All-Star Game, the announcers like to call the last guy picked “Mr. Irrelevant”.  Unfortunately for these teams, they’ve been irrelevant for a while.  Now we’re just going to put them on blast.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Honestly, at this point all I can really say is God bless ’em.  They have by far the worst record in the league, the worst goal differential, and their captain and franchise face, Rick Nash, has asked to be traded.  Talk about an implosion.  Honestly, Columbus hasn’t been relevant in many years, but never count them out for future seasons.  Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom like this in order to improve.  Even teams like Chicago, Florida, Phoenix, and you-name-it from Southern California have been irrelevant, and now they’re forces in their respective conferences.  The franchise truly needs a facelift, both on the ice and in the front office.  People always seem to forget that the GMs are a BFD in a team’s success.  Keep your head up, Columbus, it’ll happen eventually.  Until then, I thought this little picture was funny, though it is a bit of a dig.

Whomp whomp....

Edmonton Oilers

Ahhh, the babies.  They always try to run before they can crawl.  I’ll say this right now, and mark my words, if Edmonton doesn’t win a Stanley Cup in the next five years I’ll be extremely shocked.  Their young core is the dream of any NHL GM, in my opinion.  You want guys to grow together and forge a bond on the ice that can’t be broken, which is absolutely what I’m seeing out of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle.  They’re CRAZY good.  Like I can’t handle how good they are.  As far as I’m concerned, a few veteran free-agent pickups and one or two draft picks are all they need to become the powerhouse they want to be.  But, for now, they’re straight chillin’ in the Western Conference basement.  They’re not as far back as Columbus, obviously, but unless they string together some epic wins, they’re not making the playoffs.  Sorry guys, better luck next year.

Anaheim Ducks

Cool picture, right?  Anyway, I can’t tell you how much it pains me to put the Ducks on this part of the list, but unfortunately it’s where they belong.  It’s always so surprising to me how Anaheim, with all the talent on that team (especially in their Big 3), that they can’t seem to find a way to make the playoffs.  Don’t forget that they’ve won a Stanley Cup in the past 10 years.  I hope they can get it together soon, because it’s painful to watch guys as talented as Bobby Ryan not get rewarded for their hard work.  I mean, look at Ray Bourque.  He was rewarded with a Stanley Cup in his final year in the NHL after playing 21 years for the Boston Bruins, then being traded and winning it that year.  Talk about patience.  So keep your head up, Ducks, Coach Bombay will be along soon and you’ll move off this list.

SURE BETS

You can pretty much guarantee at least 5 teams that are going to be in the playoffs this year from the Western Conference.  It’s so obvious that I don’t even feel the need to give them a ton of individual attention.  Here we go:

1.  Vancouver Canucks:  As much as I don’t like the Canucks, you can’t deny what a stacked team they are.  It’s truly sickening to look at them on the ice at any given time and realize you’re completely screwed no matter which line you put out there against them.  Except Dave Bolland, he knows how to really get under the Sedins’ skin.

2.  Phoenix Coyotes:  I’m all about rooting for the underdog, and that’s just what Phoenix is.  They’re in the most random hockey city I’ve ever seen, and yet they’re currently on a 6 game win streak.  Who’da thunk it?  I like to equate them to the band 3 Doors Down: it’s a faceless team.  Unless you’re a diehard hockey fan, very few people even know who Shane Doan is, or what he does for that team, but in a way it works for them.  Everyone works hard for the team, and they feel the sting of defeat and the rush of victory together.  I’d like to see them go far in the playoffs, for sure.

3.  St. Louis Blues:  Now THIS was a team I didn’t expect to be tied with Detroit in points and have a better record than them.  I mean, really?  The Blues?  Something’s been going right in Missouri because they’re playing great hockey, and haven’t in recent seasons.  More power to ya, St. Louis, but I hope you realize that now we’re really not on good terms since the Cardinals play well too and, let’s be honest, I’m a Cubs fan.

4.  Detroit Red Wings:  Yes, I hate Detroit.  Yes, I admire ever single person on that team.  The only “win” I had in writing them on this list was putting them low on it and avoid praising them.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a hatred built from respect.  Can’t deny that talent.  BOOOOOO, I hate this.

5.  Nashville Predators:  Can we quickly talk about how 3 of the 5 teams on this list are form the Central Division?  Yeah.  Anyway, Music City has never played better hockey, in my opinion.  They’re goalie is undeniably fantastic (and has a sweet name), plus they work hard.  And truthfully, hard work beats talent any day of the week.  Ask anyone around.  Then again, if you’re talented and your work hard, then holy schnikes, you’re unbeatable!

PANIC MODE/SIXTEEN GAME SCRAMBLE/HOLY $#!+ WE NEED TO HAUL A$$

The next few teams are ones that, apparently, don’t mind potentially giving themselves a heart attack as well as their legions of fans.  Here we go.

No problem, Bob, just havin' another heart attack! That makes a baker's dozen for me.

Chicago Blackhawks

I guess the team figures that since they won in 2010 after 49 years without a Stanley Cup that the fans wouldn’t care about winning another one for a while.  WRONG.  Don’t they know that once a Chicago team wins a championship they’re expected to repeat ala Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ dynasty?  Basically, in the mind of a standard Chicagoan, the only year we shouldn’t win the Stanley Cup is if Jonathan Toews decides to be the new quarterback for the Chicago Bears.  We like the winning.  Long story short, the Blackhawks were playing awesome hockey before the All-Star break.  The start they had was the one they wanted and expected after they won the Stanley Cup in 2010.  They had a swagger, they had speed, they were creative; they were a legitimately forceful team.  And then some $#!+ hit the fan.  Captain Sexpanther is out with a concussion, our version of Chara (height-wise) was traded to the Eastern Conference New York Rangers, and we hit a nine-game skid.

How's that for being born under a bad sign?

So yeah, you could say they’re going through a crisis of confidence, especially considering the rumor around the rink is that His Sexiness is suffering from a concussion.  Excuse me while I cry, then vomit, then cry a little more.  I can’t take it.  Provided yet another epic collapse, it’s become apparent that the playoff picture doesn’t seem complete without the Blackhawks as a part of it.  Unfortunately we’ll have to wait and see.

San Jose Sharks

You know what, San Jose is a good team.  They’re in the same predicament as the Blackhawks.  Their penalty kill isn’t looking too good, currently ranked 28th in the league, and their goaltending is always an issue.  Antti Niemi, though a solid tender, is great when he’s great, and awful when he’s having an off day.  It’s a general pattern with goaltenders, but it’s especially apparent with Niemi because it seems that whenever he’s on, San Jose wins, but they rely on him a bit too much to be a big guy between the pipes for them.  It’ll be interesting to see how they do down the final stretch, considering they have plenty of games against Phoenix, St. Louis, Detroit,  Boston, and Nashville coming up.  Ladies and gentlemen, start your prayers.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche have come up pretty convincingly throughout the season.  But, truthfully, I don’t know if they have enough gas left in the tank to make a substantial playoff run, if at all.  Gabriel Landeskog is obviously a stud, but it always boils down to this:  he’s a kid.  Yes, Tyler Seguin was a Stanley Cup champion in his rookie year.  But look at the rest of that roster and compare it to the rest of the Avalanche’s roster.  Honestly, it doesn’t come close.  They have a tough schedule ahead, playing games against Vancouver, Nashville, Detroit, New York Rangers, and Phoenix.  But, they have a few coming up against Columbus too, so maybe they can pull one out.  We shall see.

WRAP-UP

Here we go.  After alllllll this bidness about the Western Conference, get ready for some playoff predictions!  I think that the top 8 teams in the Western Conference will be (in no particular order):

1.  Vancouver Canucks

2.  Phoenix Coyotes

3.  Detroit Red Wings

4.  San Jose Sharks

5.  Chicago Blackhawks

6.  Nashville Predators

7.  St. Louis Blues

8.  Colorado Avalanche

Western Conference Semis:  Canucks vs. Red Wings (my eyes are bleeding just from typing that out…)

Western Conference Champion:  Red Wings

What do YOU think about the Western Conference? let us know in the comments!

-M

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3 responses

1 03 2012
Sarah Jane

You pretty much nailed it. Detriot will win the West for sure this year. Good call.
Love my wings.

1 03 2012
L

Wow, M! You’re speedy quick! I was totally gonna write up a Western Conf post tonight, but you beat me! Awesome :) give me more time to get my laundry done.

So is this your way of saying the Wings v Rangers (my prediction) will play for Lord Stanleys attention?!

1 03 2012
M

That’s how I do haha! I definitely think the Rangers will play the Wings for the Cup. And the Rangers better win, because then Brandon Dubinsky will be in a good mood when I vie for his affections this summer.

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