Brett Lockwood

In The Crease

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Pacific Division Recap

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Anaheim Ducks – 47-30-5 record - 235 GF – 225 GA

The Ducks made a remarkable run to the Stanley Cup playoffs first, behind the stellar play of Jonas Hiller, and then as a result of Ray Emery's heroics. While key offensive players such as Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf each missed part of the season, the Ducks were able to keep a float on the strength of exceptional team chemistry. The formidable line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan took it up a notch to remain one of the most feared in the league. With an aging but productive defence corps, this team is likely to propel themselves to elite status next season.

Breakout Player of the Season: The aging Teemu Selanne was definitely the surprise of the year for Anaheim. While the team is known to be a one-trick pony with its superstar first line, Selanne paced the team all season, picking up 31 goals and 49 assists at the age of 40. While it is safe to say he was the biggest surprise, none had a bigger breakout year in the league than Corey Perry. Perry's incredible finish to the year saw him finish with 50 goals and 48 assists, two points shy of the magical 100 mark. With his point totals rising every year he is in the league, next season will be a nice test for the talented winger. He will be selected in the top 10 due to his elite, across-the-board value. Honourable mention goes to Lubomir Visnovsky, who put together a Norris-type season with 18 goals and 50 assists to lead all d-men in scoring.

Biggest Bust of the Season: While not entirely a bust, Jonas Hiller struggled at times for the Ducks. His end of the year stats indicate he did just fine, however his 46 starts are very troublesome. Rated as one of the top 10 goalies to start the year, Hiller is no sure thing anymore due to his head/vision problems. Moving forward, it may be a bit of a risk to select this young-in on draft day.

Dallas Stars – 42-29-11 record – 222 GF – 215 GA

The Stars look to be a team capable of making a playoff run in the near future. With their wealth of strong defensemen, the team is poised to take another giant step forward in 2011-12. While the playoffs remained elusive for them this season, the team is trending upwards with Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, and Alex Goligoski leading the charge. Keep in mind Brad Richards is a UFA and could be out the door. With him gone, the team would need to add a major piece in order to stay afloat.

Breakout Player of the Season: Loui Eriksson is proving to be no flash in the pan. While he staged a great season in 2009-10, it was his 2010-11 season that was most impressive. Playing in 79 games, Eriksson reached a new season high in points as he scored 27 goals and 46 assists. His plus-10 rating was a big improvement as well, showing signs that he can be a nice two-way forward for the Stars. If Brad Richards sticks around, Eriksson will be extremely valuable again next year.

Biggest Bust of the Season: The days of 70 points came and left Brenden Morrow long ago. Dealing with injury problems his last few seasons, Morrow has seen his numbers dip to below average standards of late. Despite playing a full 82-game season in 2010-11, Morrow put up unimpressive offensive numbers overall. His 33 goals was a very nice surprise (and a new career high) but adding a disappointing 23 assists hurts his value. His role as aggressor and team captain make him a better player in reality than in fantasy.

Los Angeles Kings – 46-30-6 record – 209 GF – 191 GA

The Kings have seemed to find the right mix of youth and veterans that all teams strive for. With a blueline that featured young studs like Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty, the Kings made a nice run to the playoffs despite strong Pacific division opponents. Alas an injury to their stud forward Anze Kopitar ended any hope of them advancing further than round one. Look for the Kings to be strong again as their forward corps remains intact and their back end gains valuable experience. If healthy, this team can do a lot of damage while uncovering some hidden fantasy gems.

Breakout Player of the Season: While 2009-10 was a very nice season for Jon Quick, he outdid himself in 2010-11. His GAA and save percentage took a huge spike, making him one of the most valuable goalies to end the year. With Jon Bernier taking some starts away, Quick seemed to relish the rest and put up spectacular peripherals. The Kings have to do something with Bernier because Quick is too good not to play a full slate of games next year.

Biggest Bust of the Season: Hopes were high coming into the year for Drew Doughty. While many picked him as the pre-season favourite for the Norris Trophy, Doughty proceeded to lay an egg. He remained very responsible defensively but the offensive output never came. Finishing the year with just 11 goals and 29 assists made him the 25th highest scoring defenseman. We have no doubt he will be a huge asset next season, however 2010-11 was a year to forget for Doughty fans.

Phoenix Coyotes – 43-26-13 record – 226 GF – 217 GA

The Coyotes battled in the extremely strong Pacific division. While most predicted a letdown after the amazing run in 2009-10, Phoenix exceeded expectations to make it to the playoffs again. Led by Shane Doan and Ilya Bryzgalov, their 43-26-13 record put them ahead of Los Angeles and Dallas. The highlight of their season was the eight-game win streak that catapulted them into the playoffs. With reports out of Phoenix that Bryzgalov is unhappy and will not be re-signing with the club, the Coyotes may need to make a few changes to remain afloat.

Breakout Player of the Season: Keith Yandle was a man possessed for the 'Yotes this season. Coming off a career year in 2009-10, Yandle took an even bigger step forward in 2010-11. His 11 goals and 48 assists put him with the cream of the crop at the defence position. Considered by many (including myself) to be a Norris nominee, the Coyotes would not have been even close to as good without Yandle patrolling the blueline this season. Consider him a top-10 option heading into next season.

Biggest Bust of the Season: The Coyotes' defence as a whole (excluding Yandle, of course) was miserable offensively. Of their defensemen not named Yandle, the leader in points was Adrian Aucoin, with 22. With no penetration from the back end, the Coyotes had no chance to move by the Detroit Red Wings in round one. They will need to improve here if they want to continue to experience success in 2011-12.

San Jose Sharks – 48-25-9 record – 243 GF – 204 GA

The Sharks had the team to go the whole way in 2010-11. With an offensive powerhouse lineup, it was the Sharks themselves that lost the chance to hoist the Cup. Their incredible regular season featured five players with over 60 points, making for a very spread out offense. The loss to Vancouver in the Conference Finals will sting for some time but there is no doubt San Jose will be back there next season, you can count on that. Antti Niemi played great all season and was rewarded by the team with a four-year extension.

Breakout Player of the Season: Logan Couture was a rookie phenom for the Sharks. His solid play up the middle allowed for San Jose to feature multiple scoring lines all season. Couture finished his rookie campaign with 32 goals and 24 assists. Add seven more goals in the playoffs and you can see how valuable this sniper really is. He has a bright future playing on a squad this talented.

Biggest Bust of the Season: Dany Heatley was being packaged as a first/second round talent before the season. It is too bad nobody told him. He played all season but was unable to come anywhere close to his normal numbers. For most players, 26 goals and 38 assists would be considered solid production. However, Heatley is expected to register 80-plus points. Expect a bounce back year for Heatley in 2011-12; he is simply too good to tail off like this at the age of 30.

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