NHL Preseason Preview: Western Conference, Pacific Division

10/6/11 in NHL   |   Murphy24   |   278 respect

San Jose has long been the class of the division, and the departure of Dany Heatley to Minnesota won’t change that. Instead, the additions of Brent Burns and Martin Havlat will drive the Sharks deep into the playoffs yet again.

Los Angeles has garnered much attention this offseason as a potential title contender, mostly due to some big-time acquisitions. In particular, the additions of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne (who won the cup together in Philly in 2008) brings even more depth to an already talented pool of forwards, leaving Kings fans with high expectations.

The NHL's top goal scorer last year, Corey Perry leads a young Anaheim team that is explosive offensively, but has shown that they can give up big scoring runs. With goalie Jonas Hill no longer suffering from Vertigo symptoms, this should improve. Expect the Ducks to make some noise this season.

Even if they haven’t been able to fill the arena, the Phoenix Coyotes have quietly reached the playoffs two years in a row. Coach Dave Tippett will look to coax more offense out of the team, but a lack of playmakers may mean that this appearance streak may be coming to an end.

In Dallas, goalie Kari Lehtonen has yet to prove he can anchor the defense. But allowing goals may be the least of the Stars’ worries now that top scorer Brad Richards is in New York. A playoff appearance for the veteran team isn’t out of the picture, but the odds are stacked highly against Dallas.

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10/6/11   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

This division heading into the season still looks to be the toughest division in hockey.  Even the worst team in it is better than most teams in other divisions.