NHL Western Conference team-by-team preview

1. San Jose Sharks

2009-10 record: 51-20-11, 113 points.

Power play: 21.0% (fourth). Penalty killing: 85% (fifth).

Team goals-against average: 2.51 (eighth).

Leading scorer: Joe Thornton 20-69 — 89.

Outlook: Another strong regular-season performance ended short of the Cup. The Sharks still have an exceptional defense corps despite the retirement of Rob Blake. The big change is in goal. Evgeni Nabokov was allowed to walk as a free agent and GM Doug Wilson signed Antti Niemi from salary cap-strapped Chicago.

2. Detroit Red Wings

2009-10 record: 44-24-14, 102 points.

Power play: 19.2% (ninth). Penalty killing: 83.9% (10th).

Team goals-against average: 2.48 (seventh).

Leading scorer: Pavel Datsyuk 27-43 — 70.

Outlook: Injuries, not age, slowed them early last season. They won 16 of their last 21 games and got to the second round of the playoffs. Center Mike Modano, past his prime at 40, should provide depth up the middle. Goalie Jimmy Howard was among the league leaders with a 2.26 goals-against average.

3. Vancouver Canucks

2009-10 record: 49-28-5, 103 points.

Power play: 20.9% (sixth). Penalty killing: 81.6% (18th).

Team goals-against average: 2.63 (13th).

Leading scorer: Henrik Sedin 29-83 — 112 (league leader).

Outlook: Henrik Sedin, twin Daniel and winger Alex Burrows (career-high 35 goals) were a potent line last season, but Burrows will start the season on injured reserve after undergoing shoulder surgery. Ryan Kesler is a monster and Mikael Samuelsson brought 30 goals and a wealth of winning experience last season.

4. Chicago Blackhawks

2009-10 record: 52-22-8, 112 points.

Power play: 17.7% (16th). Penalty killing: 85.3% (fourth).

Team goals-against average: 2.43 (fifth).

Leading scorer: Patrick Kane 30-58 — 88.

Outlook: They had to trade or dump a lot of their depth players and probably will feel the loss most come playoff time. They still have a great core in Patrick Kane, playoff MVP Jonathan Toews, Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook, but will miss the size and grit they lost.

5. Los Angeles Kings

2009-10 record: 46-27-9, 101 points.

Power play: 20.8% (seventh). Penalty killing: 80.3% (20th).

Team goals-against average: 2.52 (ninth).

Leading scorer: Anze Kopitar 34-47 — 81.

Outlook: Many players made their playoff debuts last spring and should be better after experiencing the quick tempo, significance of every play, and the importance of holding leads. GM Dean Lombardi fortified a solid defense by signing free agent Willie Mitchell, who should help Drew Doughty win the Norris Trophy.

6. St. Louis Blues

2009-10 record: 40-32-10, 90 points.

Power play: 16.9% (20th). Penalty killing: 86.8% (first).

Team goals-against average: 2.61 (12th).

Leading scorer: Andy McDonald 24-33 — 57.

Outlook: Acquiring goaltender Jaroslav Halak from the Canadiens was an excellent move that should provide stability for a team that took a step backward last season. Erik Johnson is a franchise player and leader of a young but promising defense. They'll need David Backes to be the physical force he was on the U.S. Olympic team.

7. Phoenix Coyotes

2009-10 record: 50-25-7, 107 points.

Power play: 14.6% (28th). Penalty killing: 84.5% (sixth).

Team goals-against average: 2.34 (third).

Leading scorer: Wojtek Wolski 23-42 — 65.

Outlook: Dave Tippett took over behind the bench nine days before the season started and was voted the NHL's top coach. He installed discipline, energy and a smart system that makes the most of the team's speed. Wolski and Lee Stempniak (a team-leading 28 goals) blossomed last season and defenseman Keith Yandle is progressing well.

8. Nashville Predators

2009-10 record: 47-29-6, 100 points.

Power play: 16.4% (24th). Penalty killing: 77.1% (28th).

Team goals-against average: 2.66 (14th).

Leading scorer: Patric Hornqvist 30-21 — 51.

Outlook: They always find a way to be competitive despite their small payroll and small stature. Losing defenseman Dan Hamhuis to free agency will hurt, but they still have the considerable talents of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, smooth skaters who can control the tempo of a game. Signing Matthew Lombardi, a solid center, was a good move.

9. Colorado Avalanche

2009-10 record: 43-30-9, 95 points.

Power play: 18.1% (15th). Penalty killing: 80.2% (21st).

Team goals-against average: 2.74 (17th).

Leading scorer: Paul Stastny 20-59 — 79.

Outlook: The Avalanche were a huge surprise last season. Center Matt Duchene was the NHL's top-scoring rookie with 24 goals and 55 points, and fellow newcomer T.J. Galiardi added 15 goals and 39 points. Right wing Chris Stewart scored a career-best 28 goals. But Peter Mueller (13 goals, 37 points) is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion.

10. Calgary Flames

2009-10 record: 40-32-10, 90 points.

Power play: 16.0% (26th). Penalty killing: 82.3% (15th).

Team goals-against average: 2.45 (sixth).

Leading scorer: Jarome Iginla 32-37 — 69.

Outlook: The Flames were the NHL's lowest-scoring team last season with 204 goals, and they've done nothing to help change that. They re-signed Olli Jokinen, who was a bust in his first term with the team, and winger Alex Tanguay. Miikka Kiprusoff played 73 games and posted exceptional numbers (2.31, .920). He won't get much help from his offense.

11. Anaheim Ducks

2009-10 record: 39-32-11, 89 points.

Power play: 21.0% (fifth). Penalty killing: 79.3% (24th).

Team goals-against average: 2.92 (23rd).

Leading scorer: Corey Perry 27-49 — 76.

Outlook: They're loaded up front. Perry is always combative. New captain Ryan Getzlaf has recovered from the ankle injury that slowed him the second half. Teemu Selanne, who turned 40 in July, came back after an injury-filled season. Bobby Ryan has 66 goals the past two seasons. But defense will be their weakness.

12. Minnesota Wild

2009-10 record: 38-36-8, 84 points.

Power play: 19.1% (10th). Penalty killing: 82.7% (14th).

Team goals-against average: 2.87 (21st).

Leading scorer: Mikko Koivu 22-49 — 71.

Outlook: The 409-game sellout streak that began with the Wild's NHL debut in 2000 ended during a preseason game. Switching from Jacques Lemaire's defense-first style to new coach Todd Richards' up-tempo style didn't get them back into the playoffs. Backup goalie Josh Harding injured his knee in camp.

13. Dallas Stars

2009-10 record: 37-31-14, 88 points.

Power play: 18.6% (12th). Penalty killing: 77.4% (27th).

Team goals-against average: 2.92 (22nd).

Leading scorer: Brad Richards 24-67 — 91.

Outlook: The Stars will have a new look after letting veteran center Mike Modano and goalie Marty Turco leave as free agents. But the key question is when will they have a new owner? Tom Hicks' efforts to sell the team have bogged down. Richards is a gem, as is left wing Loui Eriksson.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets

2009-10 record: 32-35-15, 79 points.

Power play: 18.2% (14th). Penalty killing: 81.7% (17th).

Team goals-against average: 2.99 (24th).

Leading scorer: Rick Nash 33-34 — 67.

Outlook: Goalie Steve Mason was the definition of "sophomore jinx." He went from the top rookie to beleaguered last season. Nash is a stud and Antoine Vermette (27 goals, 65 points) can compete with anyone. New coach Scott Arniel will need contributions from left wing Nikita Filatov, who returned from Russia.

15. Edmonton Oilers

2009-10 record: 27-47-8, 62 points.

Power play: 17.3% (18th). Penalty killing: 785 (26th).

Team goals-against average: 3.34 (30th).

Leading scorer: Dustin Penner 32-31 — 63.

Outlook: Penner hit career highs in goals and points but it's never certain he will remain motivated and consistent. Tom Renney replaced Pat Quinn on the theory a younger coach might better relate to kids. Left wing Taylor Hall, the first pick in the June entry draft, will have to learn on the job.

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