2013 NHL PREVIEW: PACIFIC DIVISION

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Finally, after months and months of everyone involved being morons, causing 113 days, 625 games, and the biggest outdoor hockey game in history to be cancelled, hockey fans can finally say “Game On!”  The NHL has a new 10-year labor agreement, and is set to start the shortened, 48 game 2013 season on Saturday, January 19.  Find out what you need to know about every team in the NHL for the upcoming season, this time featuring the Pacific Division.  Continue after the jump to find out where your team will finish.

While the Pacific isn’t usually considered one of the stronger divisions, it allowed enough seasoning for the Kings to get hot at the end of the season, and ride that crest all the way to a Stanley Cup win.  While the Coyotes also showed a postseason improvement, advancing to the Western Conference Finals, the rest of the division could consider their seasons to be a disappointment.  While windows of opportunity could be closing in Anaheim and San Jose.  A time of transition could be occurring in Dallas and Phoenix.  And a new potential hockey power, the Kings, could be getting all the marquees in the future.

 

PACIFIC DIVISION PREDICTIONS

 

 

kings

1.  Los Angeles Kings

LAST YEAR:  40-27-15 (95 pts)

 3rd Pacific, 8th West (Won Stanley Cup 4-2)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Anze Kopitar (25-51-76)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Jonathan Quick (1.95  GAA, .929 SV, 10 SO)

 

After squeezing into the playoffs last year, the Kings rode the lights out goaltending of Jonathan Quick all the way to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.  This season brings back essentially the same cast of characters, making for the potential for a sequel in Hollywood a very real possibility.  If LA is to avoid the Stanley Cup hangover, they will need to continue to ride Quick, and get scoring from more than just the top line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Jeff Carter.  In a season that will feel more like playoffs than regular hockey, the most recent Cup champs should have a leg up on the competition.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Anze Kopitar

2013 Breakout Player:  Slava Voynov

 

 

 

coyotes

2.  Phoenix Coyotes

LAST YEAR:  47-27-13 (97 pts)

 1st Pacific, 3rd West (Lost WC Final 4-1)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Ray Whitney (24-53-77)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Mike Smith (2.21 GAA, .930 SV, 8 SO)

 

The Coyotes might be the biggest beneficiaries of the events of the last year.  They finally showed postseason prowess, they saved money by not actually having games, they found a way for Glendale to give them free money to stay in Jobing.com Arena, and they FINALLY appear to have an owner in Greg Jamison and his group.  The team even resigned Shane Doan, who was instrumental in finally breaking the iciness between the owners and players during the lockout.  While the team hasn’t made significant moves, the team-first system, and new found success by goalie Mike Smith, will keep Phoenix in the running again this season.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Radim Vrbata

2013 Breakout Player:  Andy Miele

 

 

stars

3.  Dallas Stars

LAST YEAR:  42-35-6 (89 pts)

 4th Pacific, 10th West (Missed Playoffs)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Loui Eriksson (26-45-71)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Keri Lehtonen (2.33 GAA, .922 SV, 4 SO)

 

Dallas did a good job of bringing in complimentary veteran players after just missing the playoffs last season.  In come 40 year olds Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney.  Unfortunately, the team has yet to sign possibly its most important player, Jamie Benn.  If the Stars can resign Benn, and get another season of superb goaltending from Keri Lehtonen, Dallas will be competing for a playoff spot.  If the veterans can stay healthy, they might just be enough to get the Stars back into the postseason.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Loui Eriksson

2013 Breakout Player:  Jamie Oleksiak

 

 

sharks

4.  San Jose Sharks

LAST YEAR:  43-29-10 (96 pts)

 2nd Pacific, 7th West (Lost 1st Rd 4-1)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Joe Thorton (18-59-77)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Antti Niemi (2.42 GAA, .915 SV, 6 SO)

 

Another offseason, another round of standing pat for the San Jose Sharks roster.  After starting slow last season, the Sharks got hot, but once again fizzled out in the playoffs.  The story remains the same for San Jose:  stars like Joe Thorton and Patrick Marleau can’t score, or win, when it matters.  This could be the season where the Sharks make the full transition from those veterans to the next class of Sharks like Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Logan Couture

2013 Breakout Player:  TJ Galiardi

 

 

ducks

5.  Anaheim Ducks

LAST YEAR:  34-36-12 (80 pts)

 5th Pacific, 13th West (Missed Playoffs)

2011-12 Leading Scorer:  Teemu Selanne (26-40-66)

2011-12 Top Goaltender:  Jonas Hiller (2.57 GAA, .910 SV, 4 SO)

 

The biggest storyline of last season was the will they/won’t they nature of trading one of their big three.  Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will both be free agents this summer, and Bobby Ryan has allegedly asked out of town once before.  With the (likely) looming retirements of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, this roster could be broken up very quickly if the Ducks get out to a slow start and fall out of playoff contention early.

2013 Leading Scorer:  Corey Perry

2013 Breakout Player:  Luca Sbisa

 

 

 

 

bryan vickroy the sports bank

Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms.  He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey all year long.  Look for new articles throughout the week.  He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy.  If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at bryan.vickroy@gmail.com.

 

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