NHL Picks: Western Conference Update

David Lawrence

Friday, February 8, 2013 12:59 PM GMT

Normally at this time of year, we’re hitting the All-Star Break in the NHL season and doing some reflecting. So let's have a look at how the teams are adjusting so that we make better NHL picks.

NHL Betting: Western Conference Update

Since there’s no All-Star Weekend this year and we’re dealing with a shortened season, let’s take this time to look back at the early surprises and disappointments:

SURPRISES

Chicago Blackhawks

Many people had a hunch that the Blackhawks could be a resurgent team but nobody thought they’d be this strong. The Blackhawks are the lone team in the NHL that has yet to lose in regulation and what’s more impressive is how they’ve played on the road. Chicago was especially weak on the road last season with a record of 17-24 on the road. This year, they are 7-0-2 so far.

The Blackhawks offense is on a tear with 39 goals so far, which is the best in the West. Combine that with Corey Crawford’s excellent goaltending (1.82 GAA) and the Blackhawks will be tough to stop at any point this season.

Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this young season as they have compiled a record of 7-1-1 heading into Friday night’s action. While many people thought the Ducks had potential, nobody thought (other than me, as you can see in our preseason previews) they’d be competing for a spot at the top of the West.

Surprisingly, the Ducks have done it without the help of former All-Star goaltender Jonas Hiller, who has struggled so far. Instead, 30-year-old rookie Victor Fasth has come in and stole the show with a GAA of 0.98 so far this season.

While many people think this Ducks start is just a flash in the pan, I wouldn’t bet against it for now – especially not in a shortened season.

Check out our live NHL odds page to stay on top of any movements made!~

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Los Angeles Kings

Can you say “Cup hangover”? The Los Angeles Kings have been…well…the Los Angeles Kings of old. Remember, the Kings slept-walked through the regular season last year before firing their head coach and making a big trade to barely squeak into the playoffs. Well, that old sluggish team is back. The Kings are just 3-4-2 and have scored a league-low 20 goals. In the playoffs they couldn’t be stopped, now they’re back to their impotent ways.

Meanwhile, goaltender Jonathan Quick, who was amazing last season with a 1.95 GAA, is nearly a goal higher at 2.62 with a weak .897 save percentage. The Kings have endured a really bad start.

Minnesota Wild

Some people (like ESPN’s Barry Melrose) had the Minnesota Wild winning the West. Sure, they can still do it but first they’ll have to get into one of the top eight spots in the standings.

Minnesota is just 4-5-1 through 10 games and they haven’t looked anything like a contender. Even with Zach Parise, goal scoring is still an issue as they have just 22 goals on the year. Parise and Heatley have combined for 10 goals, and no other player on the roster has more than two. This is clearly a team that has far more flaws than many people originally anticipated and hasn't been nearly as solid for our NHL picks as we would have thought.