IT’S ICE TIME AGAIN-PART II

When I left you on Sunday, I had finished off previewing the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League.  Tonight, I turn my attention to the Western Conference.

Last season, the Nashville Predators won their first Western Conference title in franchise history.  The Predators claimed the final playoff spot and went on a playoff stretch for the ages.  Can Nashville repeat this year?

Image result for 2017 Nashville Predators win Western Conference Finals

The Nashville Predators celebrate their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in franchise history.

All-World goaltender Pekka Rinne will once again lead the boys from the Music City, however Mike Fisher will not return.  Fisher announced his retirement over the summer.  The big free agent splash for Nashville came from the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins when center Nick Bonino signed a four-year deal.  Will Bonino replace Fisher as a leader in the clubhouse?  That remains to be seen.

It could be a fun year in Texas as the Dallas Stars hired Ken Hitchcock as head coach.  In May the Stars acquired goaltender Ben Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings, and signed him to a six-year contract extension.  Can Bishop be the force in Big D that he was in Tampa Bayearlier in his career?

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Can Ben Bishop return to All-Star form in Dallas?

The St. Louis Blues are off to a flying start.  The Blues began the 2017-18 campaign with a four game winning streak.  Will this be the year that the best regular season team of the past fifty years actually skates away with Lord Stanley’s Cup?  Will the Chicago Blackhawks rebound from last year’s early playoff exit?  These story lines will play out in the Central Division as the year progresses.

The major story in the Pacific Division so far has to be in Las Vegas.  The Vegas Golden Knights have begun play as the NHL’s 31st franchise.  The boys from Sin City are wasting no time in making themselves heard.  Vegas won their first three games in franchise history, they are the first expansion team in league history to get off to a 3-0 start.

Image result for vegas golden knights

The Vegas Golden Knights are off to a historic start, winning the first three games in franchise history.

 

Will there be a passing of the torch from Sidney Crosby to Connor McDavid this year?  Will the Edmonton Oilers return to the big stage for the first time since 2006 and hoist the Cup for the first time since 1990?  In my opinion, Edmonton might have the most well built lineup in the Western Conference.

 

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Will Connor McDavid lead the Edmonton Oilers to the promised land?

 

So it is now prediction time.

Eastern Conference Champion:  Montreal Canadiens

Western Conference Champion:Edmonton Oilers

Stanley Cup Champion: Montreal Canadiens

 

Yes, the Stanley Cup will return to Montreal for the 25th time in franchise history.  The Habs will be the first Canadian franchise to win the Cup since they, themselves won it in 1993.  It will be the first all-Canadian Stanley Cup Finals since 1989, when Montreal lost to the Calgary Flames.

To the new fan base in Las Vegas, welcome aboard!  To all hockey fans, enjoy the ride!

 

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