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Projecting the Western Conference

Before the first pucks drop on Thursday, every writer worth his salt lays out predictions for all the world to see. So, over these remaining days, I'll chime in on projected standings, and individual offensive totals for the Nashville Predators

After the jump, my first installment; I take a swipe at how the Western Conference will shape up this season...

 1   San Jose Sharks  Should cruise above the rest of the West, at least until the playoffs start.
 2   Calgary Flames  Will dominate from the blueline, but can Kipper reverse his long, slow decline?
 3   Detroit Red Wings  Still incredibly dangerous, but age and the loss of Hossa & Hudler could hurt.
 4   Vancouver Canucks  With Luongo and the Sedins locked up, the goal is now to go for the Cup.
 5   Chicago Blackhawks  Exciting young team now has to fight through adversity, and prove Huet can be a solid #1.
 6   Anaheim Ducks  The line of Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan will wreak havoc throughout the league.
 7   St. Louis Blues  An intriguing mix of young and old; they need Kariya, McDonald and Tkachuk to stay strong.
 8   Nashville Predators  Is this the year Shea Weber makes a run for the Norris Trophy?
 9   Edmonton Oilers  The combo of Pat Quinn and Tom Renney is fascinating, but the Khabibulin contract is a head-scratcher.
 10   Columbus Blue Jackets  Lots of young rookie goaltenders struggle in Year 2; how will Steve Mason fare?
 11   Dallas Stars  A year of transition as Dallas looks to the post-Zubov era.
 12   Los Angeles Kings  Lots of flash, but they still haven't solved goaltending problems.
 13   Minnesota Wild  For a team supposedly implementing a new style of play, the roster didn't change much.
 14   Phoenix Coyotes  Hiring Dave Tippet should bring structure, but they're basically starting over from scratch.
 15   Colorado Avalanche  Sakic's retirement clears the way for a thorough rebuild.