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NHL Regular Season Hot Takes, Western Conference Edition: the predictions no one else will make

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Predicting the new NHL season’s most outrageous (but surprisingly plausible) storylines for every Western Conference team

Colorado Avalanche v Nashville Predators - Game Two Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

It’s prediction time, baby.

With the start of the NHL regular season just a day away, analysts and satire columnists are doing what they do best - which is, of course, flooding the hockey world with prognostications for the upcoming season.

These big names claim they like to go out on a limb, of course. In the final week leading up to the season, you can’t spend five minutes scrolling through your Twitter timeline without coming across a post promising one bold take for every team, or the most daring predictions of the year.

Of course, the hot takery is never quite as scorching as promised. Each columnist will make a couple lukewarm predictions, and then brag about the one they actually get right.

Not me.

With a toddler mere weeks away from officially hitting the terrible twos and a residual wine hangover after a much-needed vacation to Spain, I decided that decorum and restraint were for the birds. My takes are pure fire, only partially fueled by toddler-parent delirium, and I guarantee at least 80% accuracy. (Per prediction, of course. What did you think, this was something serious?)

We know you’re getting antsy for the season, and this won’t exactly tide you over until Colorado opens their season Thursday. For now, though, here’s one spicy tamale of a take for each of the teams in the Western Conference. Hopefully, the vivid fever dreams they procure will be enough to keep you from Youtubing preseason highlights too often in the next 72 hours.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim Ducks - The Ducks are going to stink. Like, they’re going to be really bad. So bad, in fact, that I’ll go out on a limb and predict that they finish dead last in the Pacific Division. Yes, even worse than the Canucks.

Arizona Coyotes - Not only will he become a fundamental piece off the offense in Arizona, Dylan Strome will become indispensable. The much-maligned 3rd overall pick from the 2015 draft is going to finish his first full NHL season with more than 50 points - and at least half of those will be goals.

Calgary Flames - Before the year is over, Matthew Tkachuk will become the second player* in hockey history to take off his skate and try to stab someone with it.

*maybe third - Tom Wilson may beat him to it.

Chicago Blackhawks - Cam Ward is going to actually play like an NHL caliber goaltender, posting league-average stats and picking up half of the team’s wins. No, really, you can stop laughing now.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche - Erik Johnson is actually going to stay healthy, and he’ll finish the year having played 80 games. Just keep him away from the golf course.

Dallas Stars - Valeri Nichushkin will come back to the NHL and absolutely fly. He’ll end up passing Alexander Radulov to be the team’s highest scoring Russian. Later he causes a stir when - in a post-game scrum - he demands everyone refers to him as the new Russian Rocket.

Edmonton Oilers - Milan Lucic will miss significant time after emergency surgery when he breaks his jaw on scrap metal during one of his dumpster buffet sessions.

Los Angeles Kings - Jack Campbell will allow two goals on his first two shots of the season. By November, Calvin Pickard will have arrived in LA to take over, and Jack will be back in the AHL (for good this time).

Minnesota Wild - Ryan Suter will continue to log the most ridiculous ice time in NHL history, finishing the season with more than 30 minutes of ice time per game.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville Predators - Filip Forsberg will change his number to 21, allowing thousands of fans to pull their Foppa jerseys out of retirement.

San Jose Sharks - Joe Thornton will finally score four goals in a game, making good on a years-long promise to the people.

St. Louis Blues - After falling flat on their faces early in the season, the Blues will trade Tyler Bozak to the Avs at the deadline for Travis Barron and a second round pick.

Vancouver Canucks - Bo Horvat is already a lot better than anyone knows, but he’ll just keep climbing. He’ll end the season leading the team with a career high point total in the 70s. Jake Virtanen and Elias Pettersson finish tied for second on the team with an unbelievable 35 points

Vegas Golden Knights - The Golden Knights will get caught up in a scandal when it’s discovered that the dude playing the knight in the pre-game show has been running an illegal gambling ring, allowing league officials to bet on NHL games. (In possibly related news, the Coyotes may end the season in the market for a new head coach.)

Winnipeg Jets - Winnipeg will lead the Western Conference in points, but finish dead last in number of airports.