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NHL-Profiles of Western Conference teams

Reuters

Sept 27 (Reuters) - Following are brief profiles of the 14 teams in the Western Conference ahead of the 2013-14 National Hockey League (NHL) season.

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CENTRAL DIVISION

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Head coach: Joel Quenneville

2012-13 record: 36-7-5 (Presidents' Trophy winners beat Boston in six games for second Stanley Cup in four seasons)

The reigning champions should be in the mix again. Key scorers Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa all return. Corey Crawford has been firmly established in net with a $6 million contract and the defense is solid.

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COLORADO AVALANCHE

Head coach: Patrick Roy

2012-13 record: 16-25-7 (Finished with worst record in West)

Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy was brought in to revamp an Avs team that has not made the playoffs since 2010. Colorado added top draft pick Nathan MacKinnon at center, forward Alex Tanguay and defensemen Cory Sarich, Andre Benoit and Nate Guenin. Goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere should benefit from Roy's presence.

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DALLAS STARS

Head coach: Lindy Ruff

2012-13 Record: 22-22-4 (Late slump left Stars 11th in West)

Former Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff was hired to shake up the Stars, who acquired centers Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley from Boston and traded for defenseman Sergei Gonchar and center Shawn Horcoff. The changes should help but ending five seasons away from the playoffs will be a big challenge.

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MINNESOTA WILD

Head coach: Mike Yeo

2012-13 record: 26-19-3 (Made playoffs for first time since 2008 but were eliminated by Chicago in first round)

The Wild could be in the playoff hunt again with more strong play from leading scorer Zach Parise, defenseman Ryan Suter and 2013 rookie Jonas Brodin. Left wing Dany Heatley, back from a season-ending injury, also will be counted on to help replace departed Devin Setoguchi and Matt Cullen. An effective backup to netminder Niklas Backstrom is needed.

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NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Head coach: Barry Trotz

2012-13 record: 16-23-9 (Tied for fewest goals in the league and finished next to last in points in the West)

The Predators went for offense, signing Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, Matt Hendricks and Viktor Stalberg to go with returning leading scorers Shea Weber and David Legwand. But key to season might be how well goaltender Pekka Rinne, who had hip surgery in May, bounces back from career-low .910 save percentage in 2013.

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ST. LOUIS BLUES

Head coach: Ken Hitchcock

2012-13 record: 29-17-2 (Lost to Los Angeles in first round of playoffs after leading series 2-0)

The Blues should be in the playoff mix again but how far they go appears to be a continuing problem. Chris Stewart, David Backes and a healthy Vladimir Tarasenko need to score more and a solution is needed in net after Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak struggled at times, affording Jake Allen more time. Alex Pietrangelo's seven-year deal boosts the defense.

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WINNIPEG JETS*

Head coach: Claude Noel

2012-13 record: 24-21-3 (Ninth in East, missed playoffs)

The Jets are back in the West thanks to NHL realignment, but the switch is not likely to end a playoff drought that stretches to 2007. The new Central Division is too tough. There could be improvement, though, with the addition of right wing Devin Setoguchi. Rookie Jacob Trouba should help the defense.

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PACIFIC DIVISION

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Head coach: Bruce Boudreau

2012-13 record: 30-12-6 (Division winners lost to seventh-seeded Detroit in seventh game of conference quarter-finals)

The Ducks will need to make up for loss of traded Bobby Ryan's scoring but the return of top scorers Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and the goaltending of Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth should produce another postseason run. Dustin Penner, with Los Angeles last season, should help fill the Ryan void.

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CALGARY FLAMES

Head coach: Bob Hartley

2012-13 record: 19-25-4 (Only the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes allowed as many or more goals)

Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff are gone, but the story will be the same - no playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. Karri Ramo, in Russia the past four years, will take over in goal gone with forward David Jones and defenseman Shane O'Brien added from Colorado.

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EDMONTON OILERS

Head coach: Dallas Eakins

2012-13 record: 19-22-7 (13th in West)

Absent from the playoffs since 2006, the Oilers, with a new coach, should be improved but will be missing injured centers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) and Sam Gagner (jaw) early. Nugent-Hopkins, who signed a seven-year contract, and right wing Jordan Eberle need to overcome poor 2013 seasons, though. Left wing David Perron and defensemen Andrew Ference and Denis Grebeshkov could be key additions.

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LOS ANGELES KINGS

Head coach: Darryl Sutter

2012-13 Record: 27-16-5 (Fifth seeds beat St. Louis and San Jose in the playoffs before falling to Stanley Cup champions Chicago in five games in the conference finals)

The Kings have the talent to make another run at the Cup, which they won in 2012. But Los Angeles needs a return to form by goalie Jonathan Quick and leading scorer Anze Kopitar to increase his goals production (10 in 2013). Key scorers Justin Williams, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards also return along with top defensemen Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov.

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PHOENIX COYOTES

Head coach: Dave Tippett

2012-13 Record: 21-18-9 (10th in West)

Their ownership finally settled, the Coyotes moved to boost their offense by acquiring center Mike Ribeiro, who had 49 points last season with Washington. A healthy number two scorer in Radim Vrbata should also help. Goalie Mike Smith signed a long-term deal with Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson back to lead the defense.

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SAN JOSE SHARKS

Head coach: Todd McLellan

2012-13 Record: 25-16-7 (Sixth seeds ousted Vancouver in conference quarter-finals before losing to Los Angeles in seven games)

The postseason run, which stretches back to 2004, should continue for the Sharks, but how far will it take them? Points leader Joe Thornton and top goal scorer Logan Couture both return as do past mainstays Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle and the younger Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns. Goalie Antti Niemi could be under a lot of pressure unless a solid back-up emerges.

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VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Head coach: John Tortorella

2012-13 Record: 26-15-7 (Third seeds swept by San Jose in opening round of postseason)

The aging Canucks try to regroup after last season's first-round playoff ouster for what could be a final push for the Stanley Cup with the current group. Former Rangers coach John Tortorella inherits the job but keeping up in the new Pacific Division could be a challenge. Forty-point scorers Henrik and Daniel Sedin return and Roberto Luongo is firmly entrenched in goal with the Cory Schneider trade.

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* Played previous season in Eastern Conference. (Compiled by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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