It's been ages since I've posted at BoC but I figure that the most logical place to throw up my randomized Pacific Division feelings would be right here. Perhaps it's also only natural that after the (obvious) Top Two, things get fuzzier than a repressed homosexual camping memory. Unwanted things happen beneath the sleeping bag/jump...
(Keep in mind these predictions come from the gut, which doesn't contain a brain but DOES contain poorly digested fried chicken and bubble gum I accidentally swallowed three years ago while passed out in a Greyhound bus.)
When someone says they're a "contrarian", that person is either: a) an asshole b) an asshole who's hoping you have a limited vocabulary or c) someone who is trying to claim expertise in "Contra." I will admit that I fit into all but one of those categories. (Not to say that I don't like spread guns)
Either way, the blogo-tar and feathering of Dany Heatley seemed justified at first but now it's gone so over the top that I feel the need to take a mildly contrarian stance. Yes, Heatley comes off as a douche considering the fact that he burnt the bridge to a town that accepted him after the tragedies he faced in Hot-lanta. And yes, he's not exactly an elite two-way player.
Yet the tone of many anti-Sharks pieces looks past the fact that Heater is just a downright assassin. The way I see it, Heatley will either be a guy who finally got what he wanted or the T.O. of hockey: having a honeymoon season here or there before calling Jeff Garcia gay.
Either way, the Sharks are going to be ridiculous again this season and should take the Pacific division/Western Conference/President's Trophy for the second year in a row. Chemistry is overrated.
The Ducks had an odd off-season. I absolutely loved every move they made, except for the Chris Pronger trade. Maybe it will be a great move in the long run, but by adding Koivu and convincing Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer to play another season, this team could have had the best of both worlds. Instead, the Ducks will settle for "almost great" now in hopes of a rosier future. Meh.
As it stands, the Ducks strike me as a team that would be better suited for the Eastern Conference. It's awesome that they have two genuine NHL goalies. It's a breath of fresh air that they won't depend solely on their big, mean first line to score all their points. And we all think Niedermayer is great, too.
Beyond Niedermayer, though, things get a little shaky on defense ... at least in the superior West. I don't trust Ryan Whitney or his cleft chin. Never trust a man with a cleft chin.
(I have a cleft chin.)
Rudy's done a decent brain washing job of convincing me that Quick is a solid goaltender, which is in my mind the only thing the Kings really need to make a strong push for the playoffs. The team has a great defensive system, brought back Jack Johnson for peanuts and added Ryan Smyth's lush mullet to scare off team-distracting Hollywood starlets.
Now, if they'd only bring back the awesome Gretzky-era jerseys instead of those quasi-Gretzky era jerseys they sported last year, they'd be overflowing with brownie points.
4. Dallas Stars
There are just too many variables with Dallas to think that they will be a legit contender.
Their coach is mediocre at best. Marty Turco could bounce back since it's his contract year, but that defense is worrisome. Though I think he's a touch overrated, Jay Bouwmeester would have been an intriguing addition to a team that lacks a true blueline leader.
Even their much ballyhooed forwards feature two guys who really might not be as healthy as people hope (Richards and Morrow), two people who will probably see their numbers drop if those guys are healthy (Lou-E and Neal) and one guy who's just a douche (Ribeiro).
The Stars do have some serious talent and upside, but my confidence in this team is fleeting.
Grabbing Dave Tippett was a brilliant move, but the Coyotes are an ugly clusterfuck of a team. As much as I'd like to see Tippett and Shane Doan pull off a great run, the deck is stacked too high for Phoenix. It would certainly make a great story if they made the playoffs but I just don't see it happening.
Welp, that's all I have for gut reactions. Thoughts?
Feel free to check out the other Gut Reactions posts at CLS if you'd like.