NHL West: A Wide Open Race in the Wide Open Spaces

Published on 31-Oct-2016 by Chips 10

NHL    NHL Daily Review

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NHL West: A Wide Open Race in the Wide Open Spaces

How much do Pacific Division teams want NHL expansion to happen?

Let us count the ways:

  1. New teams are easier to beat up;
  2. Vast expanses of territory to travel will be significantly  reduced; and
  3. The two Alberta clubs can finally shift to their own time zone by moving to the Central Division.

The Las Vegas Desert Knights -- what'll their theme song be? Scheherezade? -- will do their bit next season. And now, after so many dashed rumors, maybe Seattle will finally be getting its act together to complete Gary Bettman's longest-standing dream.

It seems like every season, Vancouver or Calgary gets off to a hot start but is inevitably beaten down by travel. It's happening again this year ... and will happen again this year.

Come springtime, playoff hockey will be in California.

Some of it will concern the Stanley Cup, and the San José Sharks are determined to take the next step and raise it this time.

However, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton aren't getting any younger. Thomas Hertl needs to stay healthy, Brett Burns needs to be as gnarly as that beard of his, and Martin Jones needs to show he wasn't a flash in the pan between the pipes.

The always steady Los Angeles Kings have been hit with the goaltending injury bug. All-Star goalie Jonathan Quick is out for three months, and now backup Jeff Zatkoff has been injured.

If the Kings can stay close until Quick gets healthy, watch out for them in April.

The Anaheim Ducks always seem to start slow but show up when it's showtime in the spring.

Look for the Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry-Ryan Kesler line to lead the way when the Ducks start making a move as the schedule loads up on home games.

Turning to the Great White North, Vancouver is getting early production from Brandon Sutter and the Sedin twins.

Jacob Markström has been starting in goal, and if he falters, Ryan Miller has been excellent throughout his career.

Edmonton named Connor McDavid as the youngest captain ever in the NHL, and so far, he's responded.

The Oil also picked up Milan Lucic and Adam Larsson in the off-season -- with the pressure on Larsson, big time -- and have steady Cam Talbot in goal.

Johnny Gaudreau signed a big contract to stay in Calgary, but he's -5 in his first 10 games, and without Johnny Hockey playing better, the Flames are in trouble.

At least they've dispelled the notion that he won't be bolting for his childhood favorite Philadelphia Flyers anytime soon.

For all the bickering between club and municipalities, the Arizona Coyotes have turned ambiguity into an art form in their moves to stay in their segment of the desert.

It's absolutely incredible that they have options, but with Arizona State elevating to a Division I program, the state that gave us Auston Matthews seems to be a buzzing hotbed.

One the ice,  Mike Smith is an All Star goalie, but dude's hurt again. Arizona will struggle as long as he is not playing.