Hockey Correspondent, White Cover Magazine
*These are my previews for every NHL division and my predictions of what lies ahead for all five teams of all six divvies in this shortened, 48-game regular season. I intend to keep each team’s summary to two sentences or less. Not because I’m succinct or concise, but because I’m tired and lazy and I don’t want to write very much.
San Jose Sharks: Sinking fast, but with enough young talent to keep them buoyant. And, yes, those nautical puns were intentional.
Los Angeles Kings: Umm, so they’re good. This team was so rocket-fuelled during its two-month run to the Stanley Cup last spring, it’s hard to imagine them slowing down in this shortened 2013 season. Don’t be surprised if they win it all again.
Phoenix Coyotes: Their success continues to defy logic or predictions, but one thing hasn’t changed: their entire recipe for success-ipy rests on the goaltender of Mike Smith.
Dallas Stars: If Jamie Benn comes back and joins newcomers Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, the Stars will have more ready-aim-firepower than the state they play in.
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks’ weaknesses in goal and on defence are palpable. Their upfront offense is one of the scariest in the NHL, but they may not have the time (48 games, remember?) or the opportunity to prove it.
1. Los Angeles Kings
2. Dallas Stars
3. San Jose Sharks
4. Anaheim Ducks
5. Phoenix Coyotes
This division is top-heavy. The Kings are a sure thing, while the other four will just have to slice up their points and wait for the Western Conference to sort itself out, Plinko-style. Last year, the Coyotes finished third but with the sixth most points, and the Kings finished eighth. Both made it to the Western Conference Finals, so there’s no rhythm or rhyme here.