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NBA Western Conference Preview: Can Anyone Catch The Lakers? 4

Posted on October 26, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Can any team in the West knock off the two-time defending champion Lakers?

As we start the long drive toward the 2011 NBA Championship, all the attention is on the Miami Heat. However, the question remains as to whether the NBA’s new super team can live up to the expectations and dethrone the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Once the dominant conference in the league, the Western Conference still has many formidable teams, but with the biggest names now in the East, the West seems to be flush with good teams, but is there a great team in the conference other than the Lakers?

We start our 2010-2011 season preview with a division-by-division look at the Western Conference:

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NHL Playoff Preview: Western Conference 6

Posted on March 23, 2010 by Scott Weldon

Chicago Blackhawks v Anaheim Ducks

Could this be the year the Chicago Blackhawks bring home the Stanley Cup?

The Western Conference has been the NHL’s elite conference the last couple of years, dominating the inter-conference games. The cup win by Pittsburgh and the recent development of talented teams in Washington and Philadelphia seems to suggest that perhaps that dominance is finished. Once again however the NHL’s best teams seem clustered in the west with only one or two eastern teams even capable of competing with them.

Here’s a look at how the western conference teams are shaping up going in to the playoffs.

FAVORITES:

1/Chicago Blackhawks- Chicago were pre-season cup favorites. They’ve got a depth of young talent most teams can only dream of. Their defense was led by young Olympians Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook who distinguished themselves against the best in the world. Twenty one year old Jonathon Toews was chosen the best forward and first all-star team center at the Olympics. Team-mate Patrick Kane starred on the US silver medal team. Throw in sniper Patrick Sharp, veteran Slovakian talent Marian Hossa, youngsters Bolland, Versteeg and Brouwer, power-play quarterback Brian Campbell, the resurgent Andrew Ladd, thumper Dustin Byfuglien and it’s hard to imagine this team losing to anyone.

They maintain an incredible defense giving up a mere 24.7 shots per game, two and a half shots stingier than the New Jersey Devils, who are renowned for their tight defensive game, and best in the league.   Read the rest of this entry →

Sharks, Blackhawks Lead NHL West at Quarter Point of Season 19

Posted on November 28, 2009 by Scott Weldon
San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks

Evgeny Nabokov and the San Jose Sharks are off to a hot start.

It’s almost impossible to win a football game in the first quarter. There’s too much time to come back, adjust to the other team, get lucky. A team can lose a game in the first quarter though. They can put themselves in such a deep physical and psychological hole that they won’t be able to climb.

The NHL season is a little like that. Everyone has played at least 21 games out of a total of 82. The early favorites have been established, but who is the best team? That title is still up for grabs. Who is likely to make the playoffs? Well in the new NHL where there’s a point given out every time a team completes their pre-game warm-up that’s still undecided yet.

Who has played themselves out of the playoffs and are likely to be lottery pick drafters, well that I can tell you. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes and their five wins respectively are out of the playoffs, in November. It’s a neat trick.

How have the teams in the NHL done this first quarter? Lets’ take a look at teams in the Western Conference in the order they’re in now.

San Jose Sharks
GP: 26   W: 16   L: 6   OT: 4   PTS: 36    WPCT: .692   GF:87    GA: 69

The Sharks are off to a great start. They’re tied with Washington as the best offensive team in the league.

The revamped line-up featuring a first class sniper, Dany Heatley, and the leagues best set-up man, Joe Thornton, is thriving. Patrick Marleau had a great season last year and is looking to do better this year. The injury to Devin Setoguchi hasn’t slowed the team at all. Evgeny Nabokov is shouldering the goaltending load in San Jose and doing it well with a 2.19 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. Throw in Canadian Olympian point man Dan Boyle and all seems rosy in Sharktown.

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Here Comes Hockey Season: Western Conference Preview 8

Posted on September 20, 2009 by Scott Weldon
It is almost time to start the annual quest for the Stanley Cup.

It is almost time to start the annual quest for the Stanley Cup.

The shortest off-season in professional sports is over. The NHL season is ready to begin again and most of the teams have made huge changes in an attempt to make the playoffs and challenge for the Stanley Cup in 2009-10. Here’s a quick look at the teams in the order they finished the regular season in their conferences and how I expect them to do this year and why.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. San Jose Sharks (5) – San Jose won the tough Pacific division and the President’s trophy as the leading team in NHL regular season last year. Then they were handled by a more talented eighth place Anaheim team losing their first round playoff series in six games.

San Jose has been an early season Stanley Cup favorite for years now and they started paying their players as if they’d already won a cup. As a result San Jose has huge cap problems this year. They had arguably the best defense in hockey last year giving up a league low 27.2 shots per game.

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    • Tony Oliva: Hall of Fame Worthy
      April 21, 2019 | 5:18 pm
      Tony Oliva

      Cuba is known for producing great baseball talent and there has arguably been no one from the island better than the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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