Yesterday, Bryan graced us with his Eastern Conference playoff predictions. Today, I’ll answer back by taking you out West, where two days marks the difference between potentially being out of the playoffs, and securing the 4th seed.
Here we go!
Canucks vs. Blackhawks
Who I’m cheering for: Canucks
Yet another Vancouver/Chicago playoff rematch? You bet. The Blackhawks backed their way into a playoff spot, and now have the unfortunate task of taking on a hungry, president-trophy winning team out for blood. Chicago are the returning champs, but they are a shell of their former selves. You can’t say that the Blackhawks’ offense is not up to the challenge, however, as they can hold their own in comparison to Vancouver’s. Will Luongo’s regular season success for the ‘Nucks hold over for the playoffs this year, or will Chicago bounce them once again in the post season?
I say Chicago’s luck has run out, Vancouver in 6
Red Wings vs. Coyotes
Who I’m cheering for: Coyotes
Another rematch and chance for revenge out west. The Wings managed to take care of the ‘Yotes last year, but not for lack of effort from Phoenix. They managed to push Detroit to game 7 before seeing their way out. Dave Tippett’s coaching has done wonders for the Coyotes, but the Wing’s continous playoff success will be hard to overcome. Especially with Phoenix’s lack of solid offense. Phoenix has some impressive goaltending that will out perform Howard’s, but I don’t think it will be enough.
Red Wings in 6
Sharks vs. Kings
Who I’m cheering for: gun to head, Sharks
I’m sure every non-Canadian hockey outlet has already pointed this out to you, but California has more teams in the playoffs than does Canada. So it only makes sense that two of them would meet up. And in the first round none the less! Assuming the Ducks advance, it would be interesting to see either of these teams meet Anaheim down the road. Either a 2009 playoff rematch for the Sharks, or the first time the Kings meet up with their rivals from down the freeway in the post season.
Of course, it won’t be easy for San Jose or Los Angeles to get there. The teams split their wins over the six times they met this season. However, Los Angeles has lost a lot of its punch with Kopitar’s injury. And who knows when Justin Williams is coming back. On the other hand, known choke-artists San Jose don’t have much luck in the post season, now do they?
The series goes to game seven, and then the building collapses on both teams.
Or, more likely, Sharks in 7.
Ducks vs. Predators
Who I’m cheering for: Let’s Go Ducks!
Okay, obviously I have a bias here. But I will say this is definitely a first round matchup I would have rather my Ducks avoided. The teams met up twice this year, and Nashville took the regular season series 3-1. Pekka Rinne is an unsolved puzzle for Anaheim. In fact, the one game the Ducks were able to take from the Preds came against Rinne’s backup.
On the bright side for the Ducks, Nashville’s offense is almost non-existent. And even though they were able to solve Hiller during the regular season, they don’t know whether they’ll be seeing Emery or Ellis in goal for Anaheim, and might not have the same luck against either one. The Ducks clearly have the offensive advantage in league-leading goal scorer Corey Perry, along with other powerhouses like Selanne, Bobby Ryan, and Getlaf. If the Ducks can get some secondary (and even some tertiary) scoring, they might be able to overcome Rinne.
It certainly doesn’t hurt Anaheim however that the Preds have gone to the playoffs 5 times but have won exactly 0 series. That can’t rest easy on Nashville’s minds, I imagine.
Ducks in 5.
Agree? Disagree? Discuss it on the forums!