The last few seasons the Pacific division has been one of the most epic and best divisions in hockey, why would anyth..."/> The last few seasons the Pacific division has been one of the most epic and best divisions in hockey, why would anyth..."/>

The Rat Trick Division Preview: Pacific Division


The last few seasons the Pacific division has been one of the most epic and best divisions in hockey, why would anything change this time around?  The Kings may have had the best season of any team, while the Sharks got more depth, the Ducks get Hiller back, the Stars add Ryder and lose Richards, the Coyotes lose Bryz and add Smith.  All together the Pacific division capped an amazing regular season with a heck of an offseason and now those offseason changes will get put to the test.  This season is the battle for the Pacific division crown.  Can the Sharks stay on the throne or can the mighty Kings take over or maybe another will step up and take hold of the Pacific Division?

Fifth place, The Dallas stars had a painful end to the 2010-2011 season getting knocked out by the Minnesota Wild in a win or go home game.  Can the Stars rebound from that crushing defeat?  I say, “no”.  This year’s Dallas Stars team is just not as good as last seasons team and I think that losing Richards may have really hurt their chances this season, being he has won a cup and is a very good leader.  When you look at this year’s Dallas stars team they just have no depth or big time players.  To be able to battle in the Pacific or for that matter the Western Conference, you have to have star power and I think that the Stars have none of that, in fact, I think that they will be one of the worst teams in the NHL this season.  The Stars have only a few players that you can point out, to make a difference, such as Ott, Eriksson, Lehtonen and Ryder, those are the only players on the Stars team that you can rely on.  Name one more player that could do something to lead the Stars into the playoffs.  My big issue with this team is no depth, you can not compete or make it to the cup finals when you have no depth, no one to support Ott, Eriksson, Lehtonen and Ryder.  You can not make the playoffs with 4 players, if the Stars are going to have a chance at competing this season, they need someone to step up that can help those 4 and I just do not think anyone can do that on this Dallas Stars team.

Fourth place, The Phoenix Coyotes lost a big key to their team this season when the Flyers traded for the contract rights of one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, Ilya Bryzgalov.  Bryz was a big key to the Coyotes team and now that he is gone, could the Coyotes season already be over?  I say, “NO”, I think the Coyotes are still a very good, talented team and this offseason they brought in former Lightning and Stars goaltender Mike Smith who has had trouble staying healthy but, when he is healthy he can be a rather effective goaltender.  If he had not got injured last season he could have been the Lightning starter for basically the entire season.  I think that the Coyotes will still be a playoff team this season.  They are mostly the same as last year except at the goaltending position and I think that Smith will be able to carry them into the playoffs but, the question is, if he can stay healthy, I believe the Coyotes are balanced at every position except for goaltending so, if Smith is to get injured, LaBarbera would then have to step up and lead the team.  I do not think that he could do that so, the question with the Coyotes is if they go to the playoffs or not, will be upon their goaltending to answer and if Smith can stay healthy, I think, we will see the Coyotes in the playoffs this season.

Third place, The LA Kings had one of the most interesting offseason’s of any NHL team, getting Mike Richards from the Flyers, as well as, getting former Flyer Simon Gagne, who I think were great additions.  I think that the Kings have a very deep team but, this is still the Pacific division which, will be in my opinion, the hardest division to win this season.  I just think that this Kings team is too young to be able to get through all of the hardships of the season and come out as a top team.  My only issue with the Kings is, not enough Veteran leadership and I think that can hurt them at points in the season, but, I still think that they will have a 95+ point season.  This team is just so full of talent and depth, I think that the Kings will be a team you do not want to mess with this season.  Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty, I think, may just be one of the best ‘D’ pairs in the NHL this season!  While in net, the Kings have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL in Jonathan Quick whom, has some of the most potential of any player in the NHL today.  Overall, look out for the LA Kings this season but, they are no where near as good as my picks for number 2 and number 1 in the Pacific Division.

Second Place, The Anaheim Ducks had a solid season last year that could have been even better if All Star goalie, Jonas Hiller, was healthy but, now the Ducks are getting ready for the 2011-2012 season behind a healthy Hiller and MVP Corey Perry.  What can the Ducks do this season?  I believe, they will get to 100 points, they have such depth at every position and I think they have one of the most deadly offense in the entire NHL, that is what makes this Anaheim Ducks team so great.  Now that Hiller is healthy, there is no telling what the Ducks can do this season.  What makes this Ducks team better then the Kings, is Veteran leadership, along with a very experienced goaltender, who is just now reaching the prime of his career just like Perry is.  Everyone on this Ducks team is just entering the best times of their careers, that is what makes this team so deadly also, it does not hurt to have a few players on your team that have won a cup.  Look out for the Ducks this season, expect them to take the Pacific division race right down to the wire in what may be one of the best seasons in Anaheim Ducks history!

First Place, The San Jose Sharks have been one of the top teams in the NHL the past few seasons, as well as, being the top team in the Pacific division and why should this year be any different?  This may be the best Sharks team of all time, what makes this team so good is the veteran depth and leadership mixed with young players who will do great things.  This Sharks team, in my mind, is one of my picks to win the Presidents Trophy.   The Sharks are such a strong team and their goaltending has experience with Niemi, who won the cup in Chicago and has entered the prime of his career.  The additions they made this offseason were also very good, replacing Heatley with Havlat and replacing Seto with Burns, and adding a few other players that add depth to both their offense and defense.  I pick the San Jose Sharks to win the Pacific division, once again and keep their dominance of the West going here in 2011-2012.  Is this the year we stop calling them “chokers” or is it another trick …it is time to find out.