2011 NHL New Year’s resolutions: Pacific Division
For many people around the world, the beginning of 2011 elicits the creation of a list of new year’s resolutions. Many scoff that odes to stop smoking or lose 20 lbs. are pipe dreams, but what’s wrong with a little optimism as the world cleans the slate of its calendar?
With that in mind, we decided to recommend a few changes (or sometimes with successful teams, what not to change) for each NHL team. We’ll go division by division in alphabetical order, because one of our resolutions is to be fair.
Click here for the Atlantic Division post.
Click here for the Central Division post.
Click here for the Northeast Division post.
Click here for the Northwest Division post.
Now here is the Pacific Division’s version.
Survive without Getzlaf
The Ducks are a team that is as top-heavy as (inappropriate reference to a woman’s chest), so playing without a player as important as Ryan Getzlaf for 4-6 weeks is going to hurt. If they can keep their heads above water, that will be quite the testament to their team.
Never allow Parros to lose the ‘stache
I mean, look at it.
Don’t trade Brad Richards
If the Stars can afford to take on Jamie Langenbrunner’s salary - even if it’s not over a full season - then how can they justify trading away their essential center? In my eyes, Dallas isn’t a playoff team without Brad Richards and one other player.
Hope that no one in Atlanta owns a Lehtonen voodoo doll
That player would be goalie Kari Lehtonen. For years, he was the talented guy who couldn’t stay healthy at all. He’s been relatively healthy so far, and despite Andrew Raycroft’s surprisingly stellar backup play, the Stars lean heavily on the Finnish goalie. If he (or Brad Richards) misses a bunch of time, Dallas might be in trouble.
Find that missing piece (and accelerate their growth)
The Kings are struggling right now (five losses in a row), but they seem like they’re on the verge of being a true contender. It just seems like they need to add that cliched last piece (or two) of the puzzle; it’s not unlike the time when the Pittsburgh Penguins decided to splurge during the trade deadline and acquire Marian Hossa.
It didn’t win the Pens a Cup, but it seemed like Pittsburgh hit a whole other level after that acquisition. Overall, the Kings need to step on the accelerator after cruising at a nice pace for the last few years.
Build their fan base
OK, now that the Coyotes have their ownership situation straight, it’s time to stop making excuses and to start adding new fans.
Re-sign Ilya Bryzgalov
The Yotes made it to the playoffs last season by playing with almost a “hive mind” approach, but their Russian goalie was undoubtedly their most valuable player. Things haven’t been going as well this season, but he’s still a crucial piece so the team should wrap him up sooner rather than later.
Figure out who their goalie is
Which Finn will it be: Antero Niittymaki or Antti Niemi? Or could they get someone else like, say, Michael Leighton or (dare we ask) Evgeni Nabokov? Their two current goalies started 21 games each so far this season and after a quick start by Niittymaki, the two have fairly similar save percentages (though Niitty’s allowing a half goal less per game), so the team will need to find a direction in net sooner or later.
Foster Logan Couture’s growth
After averaging 10 minutes per game in 2009-10, December’s rookie of the month is averaging 18 minutes per game this season. The Sharks should continue giving the potential Calder Trophy winner opportunities to succeed, even if he only has two assists in his last seven games.
Find an above average mid-level defenseman
Dan Boyle averages six more minutes than the team’s second biggest minutes defenseman (Marc-Edouard Vlasic) and there’s a pretty big drop-off after you get past those two blueliners. (Although Douglas Murray is a solid hitter and Jason Demers has a future as a scoring defenseman.)
The team could really use a second pairing-type to take some of the burden off of Boyle.