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You ever have that gut feeling that you feel so good about but yet 99% of other people straight up disagree with you? Yeah I’m getting that right now when it comes down to the Pacific Division and how stacked it is.
Obviously, we are all aware of that blockbuster trade between San Jose and Ottawa that sent Erik Karlsson (EK65) to the Sharks. That trade instantly made San Jose a favorite to win the Pacific Division and also has made them a top contender for the Cup. This clearly makes sense why people think that. I mean let’s take a look at the stats. Last year Brent Burns topped the Sharks in scoring with 12G-55A-67P in 82 games played, quickly followed by Pavelski who had a stat line of 22G-44A-66P in the same amount of games.
Now insert EK65 into the mix who went 9G-53A-62P on an abysmal Senators team and he quickly becomes the third highest scorer on that already deep Sharks team. Obviously, with a power play unit that looks to have Burns and Karlsson together on the blue line and a solid top 6 forward grouping, the Sharks look like they are in position to get Jumbo Joe the Stanley Cup that has evaded him his entire 22 year career.
Unfortunately for this blogger, that’s where all the fuzzy feelings for the Sharks come to a screeching halt. Me personally, and I honestly can’t put a finger on why, but I think the Flames are the top team to beat in the Pacific. Their team make-up is just more appealing to me and I’ll explain why. First of all they have an absolute gamer in net who constantly wears his heart on his sleeve, Mike Smith. Smith led a much weaker Arizona Coyotes team to the Western Conference Finals in 2012, so we already know he can put a team on his back.
Next, the Flames are a much deeper team in my opinion when it comes to talent and youth. Their top line will be Johnny Hockey, James the “Real Deal” Neal and Sean Monahan. And if we take their stats last year combined, the three scored 80 goals and 112 assists. Now I know this is their first year together but we already know Monahan and Gaudreau can score, and they have great chemistry already, and Neal will only help them be a little more physical on the forecheck while adding some net-front presence. The Flames have also embraced the youth movement and only have four – yes FOUR – players that are 30+ years in age and those four players are considered to be the leaders on the team.
In the end, the arms race that was the off-season of 2018 will provide more than enough storylines for us hockey fans regardless of team fandom. Me personally, I’m a Bruins fan, but I am very intrigued with how the Pacific Division will shake up whether San Jose proves everyone right or if Calgary can show that youth can lead a team in the regular season and potentially the post season.