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Josh Harding

NHL Western Conference team previews and predictions

NHL Western Conference team previews and predictions

There’s a good reason no team has repeated as Stanley Cup champion since the Detroit Red Wings of 1997 and 1998. “It’s hard. Damned hard,” said Kings right wing Justin Williams, who was voted the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs in the dramatic championship run last spring.

The Kings, who won the Cup in 2012 but lost to Chicago in the 2013 Western Conference final, believe they can repeat because they stayed intact, except for defenseman Willie Mitchell’s departure as a free agent.

But other conference rivals appear to have improved, including the 2010 and 2013 champion Blackhawks and the Ducks, who acquired center Ryan Kesler.

Here’s how the West shapes up, in...

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