Can’t have one without the other. It’s the same format as the Eastern Conference and so now, here are my predictions (expectations) for the West.
The Core Teams:
These are the teams that should make the playoffs: Winnipeg, Nashville, St. Louis, Vegas, San José and Los Angeles. The Central will remain the strongest division in the league and thanks in part to a few injuries, one team falls out and makes this a little easier.
Nashville: 105-110 points; Winnipeg 102-107; San José 100-105; Blues 97-102; Kings 97-102; Vegas 97-102
Just sit back and enjoy this slug fest because it’s going to be a long season. I could see Vegas dip a bit, but there isn’t enough info from players on other teams for me to move anyone else up.
The Bubble Teams:
These are the teams that may not finish in the top three, but will be vying for a wild card position come April.
Dallas 95-100; Calgary 95-100; Minnesota 95-100; Edmonton 90-95;
Dallas has to stay healthy and Calgary needs to win at home. Is this the end of a good run by the aging Minnesota squad and do the Oilers have a defense/goaltending to come back in to the standings. Sorry for the cut and dry approach, but it really is this simple.
The Sophomore Teams:
Just like in high school, sophomores are just…..there. No place to put them because they’re still trying to figure out an identity in this conference.
Colorado 90-95; Ducks 87-92; Arizona 87-92
Colorado improved in goalies, but not enough to overtake the Blues or Stars. The Ducks are just ravaged with injuries to start the season and losing Corey Perry for the next 5 months makes this season a real struggle. Arizona will be a fun team to watch and I would love to see this team take some big strides.
The Lottery Teams
These are the teams, that may not necessarily be a lottery team, but have the least likeliest chances of making the playoffs. Two years ago, Toronto was on this list and last year it was the Devils, so please take this with a tiny grain of salt because you just never know (Hello Vegas)!!
Chicago 87-92; Vancouver 70-75
No Crawford and you’re looking at even lower numbers for the Hawks. If Vancouver can keep pace for even half the season, the future looks better for next year.