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NHL Western Conference predicted order of finish

  • January 17, 2013 - 9:19 PM

WEST RANKINGS

(predicted order of finish)

1. ST. LOUIS BLUES

2011-12: 49-22-11 (109 points)

With captain David Backes and progression of Alex Pietrangelo, David Perron and others, league's stingiest defense should score a bunch.

2. LOS ANGELES KINGS

2011-12: 40-27-15 (95 points)

Defending Cup champs must improve 2.29 goals a game, but Conn Smythe-winning goalie Jonathan Quick has their back.

3. EDMONTON OILERS

2011-12: 32-40-10 (74 points)

Most poised to jump out of gate fast with Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins coming from AHL.

4. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

2011-12: 45-26-11 (101 points)

Faded last year, but Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith make them soar.

5. WILD

2011-12: 35-36-11 (81 points)

Craig Leipold invested $196 million in Zach Parise/Ryan Suter for good reason. Blue line still a huge concern, but four-year playoff drought ends.

6. VANCOUVER CANUCKS

2011-12: 51-22-9 (111 points)

How they handle injuries to engine Ryan Kesler and David Booth and brush aside Roberto Luongo trade distractions will determine fate.

7. DETROIT RED WINGS

2011-12: 48-28-6 (102 points)

Whiffed on several free agents, blue line is weak, aging up front ... life without Nicklas Lidstrom could be painful.

8. SAN JOSE SHARKS

2011-12: 43-29-10 (96 points)

Playoffs in 13 of past 14 years. Is this the season Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture replace Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau as key cogs?

9. NASHVILLE PREDATORS

2011-12: 48-26-8 (104 points)

Stars Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber remain, but the Predators could be in trouble with seven-game road trip right off the hop.

10. DALLAS STARS

2011-12: 42-35-5 (89 points)

Elder statesmen Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr should help an improving core, but how quickly will the Jamie Benn contract dispute end?

11. COLORADO AVALANCHE

2011-12: 41-35-6 (88 points)

Weight will be on the shoulders of reigning Calder Trophy winner and first-year, 20-year-old captain Gabriel Landeskog.

12. PHOENIX COYOTES

2011-12: 42-27-13 (97 points)

Hard to bet against Dave Tippett, especially after a division title, but who will score? And was goalie Mike Smith smoke and mirrors?

13. ANAHEIM DUCKS

2011-12: 34-36-12 (80 points)

A one-line team of Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry will face distractions with Getzlaf and Perry in the last years of their deals.

14. CALGARY FLAMES

2011-12: 37-29-16 (90 points)

Miikka Kiprusoff will be overloaded with work and Jarome Iginla will be inundated with questions about his future.

15. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

2011-12: 29-46-7 (65 points)

Rick Nash is gone. Ryan Murray had shoulder surgery. Former Wild coach Todd Richards could be in a whole world of misery.

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