Friday, April 15, 2011

NHL Playoffs Quarter Finals Predictions- West Edition

It's that time of year where the NHL ends it's regular season.  The annual tournament of attrition begins between sixteen teams, then narrowed down to one champion who will ultimately lift one of the greatest prizes in professional sports.  To view the East predictions, click here.  In the mean time, it's then first round of the 2010-2011 NHL Playoffs, and this is the Western Conference.

Western Conference Round One

 #1  Vancouver Canucks

#8 Chicago Blackhawks

Regular Season Series- Tied 2-2

They have arguably the best goalie in the NHL in Roberto Luongo.  Their offense, including the best twins to ever play in the NHL in the Sedins, is one of the more potent in the league.  Their biggest question mark becomes a banged up defense which has at times this season resembled a patch work at best.  They are a scary team for anyone to face and aim to do some damage.

The Blackhawks squeaked into the Playoffs after a loss to the Dallas Stars pushed them into the post season.  While they are the defending champs, they are mostly so in name alone.  A large roster turn over has left Chicago a shell of it's former self.  Questions in goal and on the blue line leave them a dicey proposition to do much damage this Spring.

With decided advantages in offense and goaltending, and only a small advantage in defense for the Blackhawks, the Canucks have all the makings of making this a short series.  The number one team in the West, and the NHL, should make short work of a depleted and little dangerous Blackhawks squad while ridding themselves of a large chip from their shoulder.

Prediction: Canucks 4-1

#2 San Jose Sharks

#7 Los Angeles Kings

Regular Season Series-  Tied 3-3

Another year and more regular season success follows the San Jose Sharks.  Once again they've reached the Playoffs and their eyes lie somewhere more than just a Division banner in the rafters of HP Pavilion.  The stacked line up looks forward to finally reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.  After so many years of success that has lead to nothing, very little else will do.

Oh what could be.  What seemed to be a promising potential of the Playoff push has turned into a nightmare as some of the more dynamic players of this Kings roster has turned them from favorites to floundering.  Stumbling into the tournament has left the Kings and their fans searching for moral victories.

If the Kings were able to come into this playoffs healthy things would likely be different.  However, that's not the case.  A more physical and seemingly stronger Sharks team aims to make up for the mistakes of the past and right now the Kings are in the way.  They look to be the proverbial chum in the water as the Sharks chew through (sorry) them on the way to greater things.

Prediction: Sharks 4-1

#3 Detroit Red Wings

#6 Phoenix Coyotes

Regular Season Series- Tied 2-2

The perennial powerhouse from Detroit makes it's annual spring pilgrimage to the promised land with a similar cast of characters as last year.  While some injuries along the forward lines have made them weaker, the blue line is still ably flanked by Hall of Fame defender Niklas Lidstrom.  Jimmy Howard makes his second post season trip in net as the Wings look to lift the Cup again.

After a bit of shuffling for the line up of the Coyotes, and some doubt about whether or not they'd remain in one place that still hangs over them, the Coyotes return to the post season a seasoned team with more than a glimmer in their eye.  Back stopped by Ilya Bryzgalov they hope to do some damage and make the people of Glendale/Phoenix know they have a winner in their back yard.

Much like last year the Red Wings have the advantage in most all categories, with the exception of goaltender.  Unfortunately for the Desert Dogs the advantage isn't great enough to over come the skill and ability of the Red Wings.  Last year the Coyotes took the Wings to seven games, this year they won't be so lucky.

Prediction: Red Wings 4-1

#4 Anaheim Ducks


#5 Nashville Predators

Regular Season Series- Tied 2-2

The biggest story of the Anaheim Ducks season has been their offense.  Between the un-aging Teemu Selanne and Rocket Richard winner Corey Perry, the post season hopes of the Ducks lie on the ability to put the pucks in the nets.  With an okay defense flanking an injured goaltending corps on its second and third chances, out scoring the opposition in their best bet.

It's another season for the Nashville Predators and another chance to earn their first series victory in franchise history.  As usual strong goaltending carries the load for the Preds and a strong blue line lead by Shea Weber and Ryan Suter powers Nashville from the rear up.  The hope of timely scoring from the forwards is what should carry them as far as possible.

Another series in which injuries play a significant role.  The possible match up between Rinne and Hiller is denied by the recurring bouts of vertigo suffered by Hiller.  Instead the Predators have a decided advantage between the pipes as along the blue line.  It's finally time for the Predators, they advance to the second round for the first time in their history.

Prediction: Predators 4-2

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