2006-07 HFNHL Western Conference Preview

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Brock, Dec 19, 2006.

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  1. Brock

    Brock Registered User

    Feb 27, 2002
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    This is part two of the Florida Post's HFNHL season preview.

    Western Conference

    1. St. Louis Blues
    The Blues have some serious firepower on the forward ranks. They have without a doubt one of the best forward groups in the entire HFNHL. This group boasts Joe Thornton, Jamie Langenbruner, Dany Heatley, Scott Walker, Peter Schaefer and Daniel Alfredsson. On defense, the team has one of the best top 4's in the league, with Chris Pronger, Zdeno Chara, Brad Stuart and Brendan Witt. And in goal, the Marty Turco saga continues to provide solid netminding. This team is the total package and represents high hopes for Mr. Quain's thirst for a Stanley Cup.

    2. Detroit Red Wings
    Just an all around solid team with excellent depth. All four forward lines will be able to be rolled without using someone under 72 OV. The same can be said on defense where the top 6 consists of guys rated above 72 OV, which anchored by normal Norris candidate Nik Lidstrom. In goal, the Wings will rely on Henrik Lundqvist to carry the bulk of the duty, with the always dependable Chris Osgood backing him up. This is a very solid team with very little flaws and should have no trouble taking home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

    3. San Jose Sharks
    The Sharks are a team which is able to roll two very solid scoring lines, along with one of the best defenses in the West. The first line of Peter Forsberg, Patrick Elias and Steve Sullivan will be hard to keep off the score sheets, especially with Mike Ribeiro, Dainus Zubrus and Gary Roberts right behind them. On defense, Scott Niedermayer, Ed Jovonovski, Kim Johansson and Craig Rivet form a very formidable top 4. In goal, Cristobal Huet will look to take over from where Jose Theodore left off last year with the Sharks. Huet is looking to really establish himself as one of the top netminders in the league.

    4. Columbus Blue Jackets
    The balance of power in the West always seems to include these Blue Jackets. This year, while perhaps not quite as powerful as last when they finished first, the Jackets remain a team of high quality and depth. They can roll two solid scoring lines with the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Slava Kozlov, Henrik Sedin, Mark Bell, and Mike York. The defense is anchored by Joni Pitkanen who looks to be in contention for a Norris this year. He is accompanied by stay at home veterans Mattias Norstrom, Aaron Ward, and Keith Carney. And in goal, the always excellent Martin Brodeur. Not much not to like about this team.

    5. Vancouver Canucks
    The first big riser of the West, as the Canucks shoot from the 10th spot to the 5th in the West. Youngster Eric Staal and veterans Markus Naslund and Mike Sillinger anchor the forward core, which has a lot of versatility. On defense, Tomas Kaberle and Alexei Zhitnik form the top pair, while Andrej Mezaros and Francois Beauchemin round out the top 4. In goal, Manny Legace looks to continue to prove that he is a very capable starting goaltender. The Canucks are definitely a team to watch.

    6. Edmonton Oilers
    The Oilers possess on of the best offenses in the league, with a top 6 that includes Doug Weight, Ryan Smyth, Martin Havlat, Alex Hemsky and Teemu Selanne. This firepower is matched with a capable defense that contains a solid mix of puck movers like Tom Preissing and Paul Mara with stay at home types like Mark Eaton and Kyle Mclaren. The defense isn't exactly spectacular but should get the job done. In goal, Evgeni Nabokov takes the reigns and should see a lot of action. If he can hold up and the defense really gels as a unit, the Oilers could see themselves finish into the top 4 of the West.

    7. Minnesota Wild
    The Wild are a very solid overall team with a good make up. They bring a lot of speed and energy to the table and will play a high tempo game. Upfront, the first unit of Patrice Bergeron, Ladislav Nagy and Martin St. Louis should be one of the best in the league. On defense, the Wild may be lacking that one game breaking defenseman who can really make a difference. They have a solid top 4 unit of Roman Hamrlik, Bret Hedican, Greg de Vries and Hal Gill. Vesa Toskala will be counted on to play most of the games in net, and their is a chance he may see a lot of pucks with all the hot shot offenses in the West. The Wild's defense will definitely need to step up.

    8. Colorado Avalanche
    The Avalanche are a very young team, who look to make the playoffs for the first time in a few years. This would be quite the accomplishment considering they finished dead last in the entire HFNHL last year with only 16 wins. This years team is much improved with the additions of Sidney Crosby, Pavol Demitra, Jochen Hecht, Keith Ballard, Martin Gerber among others. Crosby and Demitra will be counted on to supply the scoring as a strong one-two punch. The defense will be lead by the always reliable Lubo Vishnovsky. In goal, the Avs have excellent options after signing Gerber, and already having Marc Denis and Kevin Weekes. It has to be pretty likely that one of these three will take over the reigns and supply the Avs with solid goaltending.

    9. Calgary Flames
    The Flames have an excellent and well balanced offensive attack. Only one of the teams top 12 forwards is rated under 70 and is chalked full with scoring talent. The first unit of Pavel Datsyuk, Jerome Iginla and Vaclar Prospal has to scare a lot of defenses. The Flames have an excellent top 3 in Dan Boyle, Dan Hamhuis and Paul Martin, but outside that, it could be on the thin side. This combined with no clear cut number 1 goaltender between Jose Theodore and Andrew Raycroft, could combine to keep the Flames out of the playoffs, despite their solid forward unit.

    10. Dallas Stars
    The Stars are a pretty well rounded team, that supplies you with a bit of everything. They are especially strong down the middle with Alexei Yashin, Saku Koivu and Derek Roy. However the team is clearly weak on the wings, with Nik Antropov and Michel Ouellet the top players. The defense unspectacular, but has the potential to really come together as a unit. They boast no one over an OV of 74, but no one under an OV of 70. Veteran leadership is supplied by Teppo Numinen. In goal, Miikka Kiprusoff has the potential to make the defense look much better and to really give this team a chance at a playoff spot.

    11. Chicago Blackhawks
    The Hawks can roll two solid scoring lines with the likes of Joe Sakic, David Vyborny, Alex Tanguay, Alexei Kovalev and Shawn Bates. Outside of this top 5, the forward unit begins to look a little weak. This lack of scoring depth may hurt the Hawks and their playoff chances. On defense, Sergei Zubov is the clear leader, as he leads an unspectacular but possibly effective defensive unit. Goaltender Dwayne Rolosson is used to facing a lot of shots over the course of his career and this year could be no different. The Hawks could still have a shot at the playoffs if Rolosson can play well and secondary scoring is supplied.

    12. Anaheim Mighty Ducks
    While the Ducks have gone into a bit of a semi rebuilding period, they still will remain a competitive team thanks to a very gritty bunch of players. The forward group will be lead by the likes of Bryan Smolinski, Tomas Holmstrom, Todd White, Sami Kapanen, Tony Amonte and John Madden. The forwards can both score and play solid defense, so the Ducks will likely play a very conservative style. The defense is anchored by a solid first pairing of Marek Zidlicky and Brian Rafalski which is incredibly mobile and can move the puck with ease. The 3rd pairing might begin to cause some problems for the Ducks, however, unless the forwards can really help out. In goal, the aging Sean Burke looks to squeeze out yet another HFNHL season, and is likely headed for his last. Perhaps he can go out with a bang and help this team surprise into the playoffs with hard work and perserverence.

    13. Nashville Predators
    The Preds will look to improve upon the 27 wins they compiled last year, but could be hard pressed to do so with such huge improvements being made across the entire HFNHL. At forward, Eric Lindros, Rob Niedermayer and Kristian Huselius are likely to be the first unit and could provide some scoring. The defense is solid yet unspectacular with a top 6 that has no one above 74, but no one below 71. This well rounded defense could be helpful to young goaltender Kari Lehtonen. As a rebuilding team, the Predators can't be expecting a whole lot more than a finish around this mark.

    14. Los Angeles Kings
    When Wes Walz is your first line center, perhaps then you need to look at the potential your club has for scoring goals. The Kings could be hard pressed to do that this year, with one of the worst forward units in the HFNHL. Kyle Calder and JP Dumont will look to supply the team with most of its offensive production. On defense, veteran Rob Blake will lead a pretty solid top 3 that also includes Toni Lydman and Christian Backman. Outside of this, depth could be an issue, however. In net, Curtis Sanford looks to be the number 1, and is likely to face a lot of action. But look for Cam Ward to continue to improve as the season goes along.

    15. Phoenix Coyotes
    The Yotes offensive attack will be lead by one man, a Mr. Rod Brind'amour. While Rod the Bod is going to be up to the challenge, he's going to need a strong effort from the rest of the forwards like Trevor Letowski, Patrick Sharp or Brian Sutherby. The defense is anchored by a solid pairing of Chris Phillips and MA Bergeron, however outside of this, the defense could begin to be problematic. The starting job could be platooned between Mike Dunham and Jocelyn Thibault, but either way it's likely the clubs goaltender is in for a long year.

    That's it from the Florida Post. Now let's bring on the new season!

    Esteban Santour,
    Florida Post
  2. MatthewFlames

    MatthewFlames Registered User

    Jul 21, 2003
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    General Manager, Calgary Flamettes
    Fine work Brock!!
  3. Fan.At

    Fan.At Registered User Sponsor

    Mar 2, 2002
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    HFNHL Preds
    Good job, Brock. Glad to see you have a lot of faith in my team ;)
  4. Groan. What does everone think of a league realignment ;)

    Three of the top four coming out of the Central Division again :shakehead
    If the predictions pan out (which I see no reason to doubt) and with divisional seeding I would enter the playoffs in the 4th spot and have to play the Brodeur lead BJ's in the first round?! Ouch!

    Great job Brock.
  5. Ville Isopaa

    Ville Isopaa Registered User

    Feb 27, 2002
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    Helsinki, Finland
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    Don't worry, Colorado will be up there in a season or two.. :teach:

    :clap: Awesome preview Brock! :bow:
    Although, I'm not as sure on making the playoffs. A lot of good teams out there..

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