NHL 2011-2012 Predictions: Complete Western Conference Preview and Picks

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NHL 2011-2012 Predictions: Complete Western Conference Preview and Picks
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It's that time of year again, folks. Hockey is back, and the faceoff of the 2011-2012 NHL season is only a week away.

With the preseason already beginning to wind down, the ongoing river of "expert" predictions is in full swing. Not to be one left out of the fun, we had to chime in with another set of controversial, fan-angering standings projections.

For the Western Conference (as well as the East), the offseason of '11 was an eventful one. The deaths of three recent or current players dampened the ecstasy over Winnipeg's long-awaited return to the league's fold. Elsewhere, a plethora of trades and signings became the talk of the summer—the dual Minnesota-San Jose swaps, Columbus's addition of Jeff Carter and the Kings' grabs of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne.

The quantity of headlines has made the conference even tougher to predict, which is why we're going to go out on a limb more than just once or twice in this predictions. Public opinion aside, this will be the blunt truth—and it might get ugly, at times.

As a warning to hockey fans in the Detroit, Calgary and Nashville (wait, are there really hockey fans there?) areas, we recommend you hit that "minimize" tab now before getting all wound up. All other readers, however, are free to continue...and then chime in with your own criticism in the comments section below.

Note: This article is the complement to our complete Eastern Conference predictions that were published earlier this week.

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