The surprise of the 2009-2010 season, the Phoenix Coyotes came out of nowhere to take the fourth seed in the west.
The player who had biggest impact on their strong 2009-2010 season was their goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who posted career highs in wins, GAA, and save percentage.
Although many see the Coyotes rise to the playoffs as a bit of a fluke, I think they are here to stay.
With the addition of veteran winger Ray Whitney and having winger Wojtek Wolski for a full season, I do not see the Coyotes taking a step back.
Rather, I see the Coyotes taking another step forward and becoming a solid contender against the Blackhawks in the West.
The Los Angeles Kings had a Blackhawk-ian (yes I made that up) rise from the cellar of the Western Conference to become a playoff contender.
The Kings built their team for long term success, much like the Blackhawks, from the blueline forward, with the likes of Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson leading the way.
Even with the Kings unable to land Ilya Kovalchuk, they still are in position to continue their rise in the west with their offense lead by Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Ryan Smyth.
Expect the Kings to challenge the Sharks and Coyotes in the Pacific and for the Western Conference crown come the playoffs.
Riddled with injuries last season, the Detroit Red Wings struggled throughout most of the year, until they were able to right the ship and finish fifth in the West last season.
In the offseason, the the Red Wings have not made to many moves except for re-signing Jiri Hudler, who had left for the KHL, and are reported to be in pursuit of veteran Mike Modano.
However, without any major changes coming to the Detroit lineup and a team that will presumably be healthier this season, you can count on the Wings being in the thick of things come playoffs.