Mar 18, 2010, 2:30 PM EST
For most of this season, the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks clearly have been the class of the Western Conference. Yet, now, both teams face some serious questions.
For Chicago, the problem is a mixture of bad luck, goalie worries and late game struggles. As I just wrote, the team is without three of their defensemen because of injuries and is on a three game losing streak.
Unlike Chicago, most of the Sharks’ wounds appear to be self-inflicted (although they must miss the heady work of underrated defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic). They, too, are on a three game losing streak highlighted by a tremendous beating at the hands of the Dallas Stars, who humbled them 8-2. That’ll Cheech You of Fear the Fin had this to say about the team.
Talking with a coworker yesterday, the old adage “at least we’re getting the slump out of the way now” came up. Although that could be an apt point, it didn’t hold true for the team last year. This isn’t just a slump; the team is facing some major personnel issues and an overall lack of effort. That’s not to say that these issues can’t be fixed, but as of this point in the season, I’m not seeing it.
Now, it’s natural for people who cover a team everyday to truly feel each win and loss that much more. Ultimately, I think that Chicago and San Jose both can bounce back from these obstacles (although the Blackhawks better hope that Brent Seabrook’s problems are minimal.)
Still, I have to wonder: is there a true favorite to come out of the West if Chicago and San Jose falter? Let’s look at some of the other West contenders.
Vancouver: The odd thing about the Canucks is that Roberto Luongo might be the problem right now. According to the Vancouver Sun, Luongo’s been pulled a stunning four times in his last 13 starts.
Phoenix: When is this team going to “show up on the radar”? They might just be the hottest team in the NHL right now with a six game winning streak. It’s obvious that they’re more than just a feel-good story.
Colorado/Los Angeles/Nashville: You have to hand it to these three scrappy teams for doing so well this season, but I don’t see them getting to the Cup Finals this year.
Detroit: You might say that the Red Wings have “finally woken up” with a three game winning streak, but I think a lot of that comes with getting healthy. No one wants to see this team in the first round.
Calgary: Who knows if the Flames will even make the playoffs? Then again, a team with Kipper, Bouwmeester and Iginla could be dangerous if they indeed make it. I doubt it, but it’s at least … slightly plausible.
Could one of these teams steal the West or will it be Chicago or San Jose as it seemed for much of this season?
- Roy: ‘They got away with things that we could not’ 1
- Video: Lightning pay tribute to St. Louis 5
- He’s baaaaack: Brodeur joins Blues on tryout basis 19
- Chelios calls ex-teammate Shanahan an inexperienced ‘politician’ 16
- Sharks players go to bat for McLellan: ‘Why would you get rid of him?’ 1
- Garbutt to have hearing for kneeing Hall 3
- The day before Thanksgiving, six new playoff teams 16
- What they’re saying about St. Louis’ return to Tampa Bay 22
- NHL on NBCSN: Flyers face Red Wings on Rivalry Night 13
- Video: Canucks honor Quinn with “O Danny Boy” 9
- Video: Milan Lucic calls Dalton Prout one-punch ‘gutless’ (99)
- Prout drops Lucic: ‘As far as I was concerned we were engaged in a fight’ (88)
- The Leafs didn’t salute their fans last night, so that’s a thing now (79)
- Jack Johnson filed for bankruptcy, parents allegedly took advantage of him (58)
- Bruins’ Lucic expected to play against Habs after getting one-punched (Updated) (47)