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2011/2012 Season Preview: The Western Conference

10/06/11
by

Tonight the puck drops on the 2011/2012 NHL season as the defending champion Boston Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Not willing to sit on the bench as every other dang NHL website puts their predictions out there, Black & Blue & Gold’s three amigos are ready to share their picks with the hockey world! After the jump, check out our cockamamie Campbell Conference predictions!


Phil
1). San Jose
2). Vancouver
3). Chicago
4). Detroit
5). Los Angeles
6). Anaheim
7). St. Louis
8). Columbus
9). Nashville
10). Calgary
11). Edmonton
12). Colorado
13). Minnesota
14). Dallas
15). Phoenix

Just like last season, I see this year’s Western Conference being a muddled fustercluck all season. I especially see #7, #8, and #9 being a drawn-out blood feud. San Jose will probably win the top seed in the conference, with the rest of their California mates making it into the playoffs, too. And I see four of the five Central Division teams getting into the second season, where the arguably best division in hockey will wreak havoc in the first round. It’s too bad some good young teams like Edmonton and Colorado seem like they’re in perma-rebuild – they’d be really fun to see make noise.

Alex
1). Vancouver
2). San Jose
3). St. Louis
4). Los Angeles
5). Anaheim
6). Chicago
7). Detroit
8). Columbus
9). Dallas
10). Phoenix
11). Nashville
12). Calgary
13). Minnesota
14). Colorado
15). Edmonton

Vancouver and San Jose are still the two best teams in the league and should run away with the Western Conference. What’s interesting to me is the Central division. Detroit is an older team with guys hitting ages where their careers start to decline. Chicago is two good lines and a bunch of spare parts. Then there’s St. Louis, one year removed from being a playoff team. As I’ve pointed out approximately 37 times, St. Louis started eleven of their first twelve games against playoff teams in 2010-2011 and went 9-1-2 in that stretch. Ultimately injuries doomed their season. I’m picking them as the surprise team of 2011-2012 and the third division winner.

Jason
1). San Jose
2). Vancouver
3). Chicago
4). Detroit
5). Los Angeles
6). Anaheim
7). Nashville
8). Columbus
9). St.Louis
10). Calgary
11). Dallas
12). Colorado
13). Minnesota
14). Phoenix
15). Edmonton

Full disclosure here. I get up for work at 3 am. That puts a crimp in my Western Conference hockey viewing. So if you thought my picks for the east was just tossing darts at the board, hoo hoo, just wait… Vancouver lost some guys, including of course new Sabre Christian Ehrhoff, but they still have the Sedins, Kesler, Luongo, etc. They’ll be fine. San Jose has its normal high collection of talent, but will they flame out before the Final again? Death, taxes, and the Detroit Red Wings. You know they’re solid. Chicago took a step back, but still have the core that won it all 2 years ago. Nashville boasts a blue line of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. But can they score? Los Angeles got Drew Doughty under contract. Is it their time?

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