The Pacific Division is easily the NHL’s best. Three of the last four Western Conference finalists came out of the Pacific. Current Stanley Cup Champion L.A. Kings play in the Pacific. Two of its teams has won the Cup in the past six seasons. No other division in hockey can boast such accomplishments or anything even close for that matter.

Given the weighted NHL schedule a winning record in this division sets teams up for a deep playoff run.

The L.A. Kings came together in the second half of last season and rolled to the Stanley Cup. GM Dean Lombardi is bringing everyone back for an encore. Given the short season there’s no reason to believe the Kings won’t be heard from before the Cup is raised in June.
Anze Kopitar is the closest thing to a complete and under-rated hockey player. this side of Pavel Datsyuk. Catch a few bounces and Anze could compete for the Hart, Ross, Richard and Selke trophies in the same year. Drew Doughty sacrificed personal accolades to become a team player. A fact seemingly lost on Kings Nation. The only challenge Jamie Quick faces is maintenance so that he’s fresh for the key games and playoffs.
The supporting cast, led by captain Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams and shut down Dman Willie Mitchell provides a nice mix of complimentary.
No reason not to expect the Kings to win the division.

Phoenix Coyotes continue to prove the cliché, offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. If this group can find a few more goals they are best positioned to challenge the Kings. It just might happen with defenders Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are two of the hockeys best puck moving Dmen. The ‘Yotes can transition from the backline and arguably the NHL’s toughest to play against team.

Doug Wilson is among the most respected GM’s in hockey but it seems the Sharks window of opportunity may have already shut. The core of Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton and Philip Marleau is getting long in the teeth. Unless the supporting cast led by Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Martin Havlat and Ryan Clowe take it up a notch, the Sharks will be in trouble. The additions of Brad Stuart and Adam Burrish will help. With only two roster changes the short season should serve them well.

Seems as though Ducks GM Bob Murray retools his blue line annually. This year Bryan Allen and Sheldon Souray are added to the top six. Are they enough to help these improve on their 19th best GA? Jonas Hiller returns in net. The big three of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan are again supported by Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu and a bunch of unproven youngsters. Recently, Coach Boudreau said that the Ducks are short one winger. Ducks should improve on their last place finish of last but everything must go right for them to advance beyond fourth place in one tough, competitive division.

Dallas Stars will go so far as Kari Lehtonen, Jamie Benn and Louie Eriksson can carry them. Stars have added Ray Whitney, Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr to their top six. That’s a lot of change needing to come together quickly in such a shortened season.

 

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Comments
  1. rainmaker97 says:

    Good analysis. I would say that the Atlantic division and the Central division are probably the toughest divisions overall, since they annually consist of four very strong teams. Last season, both divisions had four teams with over 100 points. Of course, they get to beat up on the Islanders and Blue Jackets all season, soo… ;)

    • bc says:

      Welcome to the board and our West Coast bias rainmaker97. Easterners and flyover residents are given a pass for not staying up late ;)

  2. bilverado says:

    Definitely is the toughest division and the reason I worry that the Ducks have been too slow to find a way to be more competitive. Prior to this year, the Kings and Coyotes have made giant strides to be more competitive, adding pieces that have made them stronger. The Ducks — as well as the Sharks — seem to believe they have a core that can do it, but have never quite been able to.

    For the Ducks, I think they thought Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan would have made us a annual playoff contenders. For the Sharks, while Thorton, Marleau and Boyle have gotten the Sharks to the playoffs, they’ve never seemed to have enough in the tank to get the Cup. I think it’s that both have just hoped they were getting better by moving pieces on the board, rather than really adding strength where they were weakest.

    After the last few years, it’s apparent Getzlaf doesn’t have the heart to be the player many thought he could be. Hope someone will come along and take him off our hands and give us something to build on later, but I wouldn’t trade for him, and certainly wouldn’t give much for him after watching the last two seasons — one in which the team arguably played better while he was out, and the other in which he seemed to sleep walk through much of the season. Maybe we can hope with a shortened “contract year” season, we’ll see some of the greatness that some expected, but I was struck by the thought watching the WJC that Getzlafg has never really gotten past that level of play, where being big was a decided advantage. In the NHL, being big is being just another player — having heart is what sets you apart.

  3. czhokej says:

    Good article and good comments. We agree that without Getzlaf’s stellar play, we cannot get anywhere. Koivu had a decent season last year, and Teemu was very good – for their age, but we cannot expect the same productivity this year. And we are still waiting for the younger players to have a significant impact.

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