Ranking the West teams who missed the playoffs

Thumbnail image for duckstrio.jpgWith the playoffs just a few hours away, this is surely a great time to be a hockey fan. That being said, there are fourteen teams on the outside looking in. No doubt about it, they must feel more than a little jealous and probably are asking themselves what went wrong (OK, they’re probably asking themselves “Should I use a 9-iron?” but still). With those sad souls in mind, I decided to rank those team’s chances of making the playoffs next year.

Obviously, this is as hasty as it gets, but I hope you find this fun. Here are my choices for the Western Conference (in order of most to least likely).

1. Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks would probably be a dominant team in the East, but no sense crying over spilled milk. With Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and Saku Koivu mulling retirement, this could be a very different team next season. That being said, their mean young trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan are elite and so is Jonas Hiller.

2. St. Louis Blues

With Keith Tkachuk’s retirement and Paul Kariya’s expired contract in mind, it’s obvious that the already-young Blues look to fully transition to a bunch of whipper snappers. With a few tweaks (say, adding Sergei Gonchar and Alex Frolov, maybe?) the Blues could be a contender.

3. Dallas Stars

The Stars are another team that will look very different in 2010-11. There’s plenty to build on, though, as the team is especially stacked at forward.

4. Calgary Flames

It’s pretty hard to be positive about the Flames right now, but let’s not forget that they were still pretty close to making the playoffs.

The remaining three teams are discussed after the jump.

5. Edmonton Oilers

Just about everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Oilers this year. Add Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to a hopefully healthy Ales Hemsky and the outside chance of a healthy Nikolai Khabibulin and suddenly Edmonton might have a fighting chance.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets

Is the “real” Steve Mason the guy who won a Calder Trophy and received some serious Vezina consideration or the goalie who stunk up the joint last season?

7. Minnesota Wild

I don’t think Minnesota will finish last season, but really it might be best (for the future) if they did. They remind me of the Florida Panthers in a lot of ways (for one thing, they both have only had one playoff run to write home about). I get the feeling Wild fans might be wise to prepare for some more near-playoff misses in the next few years.

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    Marner’s brilliant passing powers uplifting night for Leafs

    TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 15:  Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates scoring his 1st NHL goal against the Boston Bruins during an NHL game on October 15, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Bruins 4-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    For a while, the story of the Florida Panthers – Toronto Maple Leafs game would be the remarkable march of Jonathan Marchessault.

    As great as his story remains (he gave Florida 1-0 and 2-1 leads), those pesky young Maple Leafs keep stealing the headlines.

    In tonight’s case, it was Mitch Marner who was raising eyebrows as he assisted on all three of Toronto’s goals in a 3-2 victory.

    His third assist was just sublime:

    After the game, Tyler Bozak pondered the two goals Marner helped him score and deemed the youngster “an elite player,” according to the Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle.

    Considering the growing discomfort regarding Frederik Andersen‘s play, this tweet should help to make Maple Leafs fans smile:

    Ehhhhh, Marner might deserve that first star, but the gesture means almost as much as the win.

    Devan Dubnyk pushes shutout streak to two games

    ST PAUL, MN - OCTOBER 15: Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild defends the net against Winnipeg Jets during the game on October 15, 2016 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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    Devan Dubnyk already showed signs of having a hot start to 2016-17, but Thursday made that point abundantly clear.

    For the second straight game, Dubnyk generated a shutout, with the Minnesota Wild beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-0 in this instance.

    It’s not as if Dubnyk is just leisurely turning aside the occasional chance, either; he made 38 saves to blank Buffalo and needed to stop 65 shots on goal considering the 27 he turned aside in a 5-0 win vs. Boston.

    Ryan Suter said that Dubnyk bailed his teammates out during the second period, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reports.

    He’s now allowed just 10 goals in six games so far in 2016-17, with Taylor Hall‘s overtime-winner being the last shot to beat him. That came on Sunday:

    More often than not, Dubnyk’s been making those saves so far in this young season.

    Video: Another way Patrik Laine evokes Alex Ovechkin

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    There are plenty of differences between Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, including obvious things like one being from Russia and the other from Finland.

    Still, there are moments when Laine inspires comparisons to his idol, even this early in his rookie season.

    Thursday presented one of those moments. It wasn’t just that Laine fired a 3-0 goal home for the Winnipeg Jets against the Dallas Stars with such moxie; it was also that he showed some swagger with a celebration afterward.

    This GIF captures the moment brilliantly, while you can also watch the goal in video form.

    Sure, there will be some grumbles from the “act like you’ve been here before” crowd, but this is brilliant stuff for the rest of us.

    Video: Want another booming hip check? Sean Couturier obliges

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on against the Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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    Early this season, Dmitry Orlov delighted onlookers and angered Matt Duchene with a mind-blowing, throwback hip check. People really seemed to enjoy it.

    While you’d struggle to top that hit, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier must have sensed the void in checks that almost seem to flip opponents, doing so against Anthony Duclair during Thursday’s contest.

    Rate this as you will:

    Want another look at the Orlov one for comparison’s sake or to chuckle in disbelief? Why not: