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2011/2012 NHL Northwest Division Gambling + Handicapping Preview

NHL Betting – Northwest Division Preview

After falling just short in the Stanley Cup final a year ago, the Vancouver Canucks will fight for another chance at hockey’s ultimate prize, beginning their quest for redemption in the Northwest division.

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The Canucks incurred little resistance a year ago in what was easily the weakest division in the NHL, with none of the other four teams able to make the playoffs.

While each of those franchises feel they have made significant improvements, Vancouver should be able to remain on top with the majority of their core still intact.

On The Rise: Edmonton Oilers

The consensus around the league is that the Colorado Avalanche are destined for the Western Conference basement, and a small part of that is because the team that has occupied that spot the previous couple of years has built up enough talent to finally move out.

The Edmonton Oilers landed several key players in the offseason, with veterans Ryan Smith, Eric Belanger, and Andy Sutton joining top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and a ton of young talent the team has compiled over the years.

Most experts remain torn about whether or not the moves that the Minnesota Wild made this offseason will help them contend for the playoffs, because while Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi should provide some offensive flare, they also gave up a ton of talent to acquire them. That leaves the Oilers as the team that should make the biggest improvement this season, and although they will not contend for a postseason position, they will be more competitive. [ad-4437448]

On The Decline: Caglary Flames

The Calgary Flames brought in new general manager Jay Feaster to clean up the considerable mess that Darryl Sutter left the franchise in, and it will take some time before he is able to right the ship.

The Flames still have some talent on their roster with captain Jarome Iginla and goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff, but the team is riddled with relatively mediocre talent that was signed to superstar contracts.

Calgary will also be hurt by the losses of top defenseman Robyn Regehr and veteran center Daymond Langkow, with the additions of journeyman winger Lee Stempniak and defenseman Chris Butler doing little to offset those hits. For years the Flames seemed a piece away from being complete, and now the championship window may have closed for a team that could be a major reclamation project.

Projected Winner: Vancouver Canucks

There was too big of a gap between the Canucks and the rest of the division last year to think that any team will catch them this season, and it may actually be a case where the divide becomes even bigger with the Flames projected to take a step back.

While the Wild should win at least a couple more games this season, the Oilers and Avalanche will not contend for a playoff spot, leaving the path clear for Vancouver to begin another run at the Stanley Cup.

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