Sunday, May 1, 2011

NHL Playoffs Semi Finals Predictions- West Edition

After managing an impressive (if I do say so myself) seven of eight correct predictions in the quarters (thanks by the way, Buffalo) the first round is done and we're on to the second round of the 2011 NHL Playoffs.  As is tradition (starting now) it's time for predictions.  Yesterday, the East.  Today, the West.

Western Conference Round Two

#1 Vancouver Canucks

#5 Nashville Predators

Regular Season Series- Tie 2-2

For the third year in a row the Canucks and Blackhawks met in the playoffs.  For the first time the Canucks got the better of the Blackhawks.  In what goes down as one of the absolute best playoff series in history, the Canucks nearly choked away a 3-0 series lead.  It took some solid defense and a sturdy Roberto Luongo, who faltered in Games 4-6, plus an overtime goal by Dave Burrows to send the Canucks on their way.

It finally happened.  For the Nashville Predators, their only head coach Barry Trotz, their only GM David Poille, and their first ever draft pick David Legwand they finally did it.  When Legwand put away the empty net goal to end game six, they finally reached the second round and won a playoff series.  It's a first for Smashville and they want more.

Both teams come in shedding a Playoff bugaboo.  Nashville made it to the second round while the Canucks finally vanquished Chicago.  That's where the similarities end.  The plucky Preds have met their match in the powerful Canucks.  Luongo will likely have his confidence back.  Rinne will do what he can.  In the end the Predators won't be able to match the Canucks fire power.

Prediction: Canucks 4-1

#2 San Jose Sharks

#3 Detroit Red Wings

Regular Season Series- Sharks 3-1

An otherwise uneventful series was marked by one of the greatest comebacks in NHL Playoffs history.  Down 4-0 after the first period, the Sharks managed to score five goals in the second period, taking the game to over time.  The series was pretty much over when Devin Setoguchi put away an over time marker.  The series was officially over, despite Kings goalie Jonathan Quick's best efforts, when Joe Thornton announced his playoff intentions with an overtime clincher.

Last year it was a struggle.  It took seven games for the Red Wings to put away the Phoenix Coyotes.  This year it was much easier.  The Red Wings seemingly breezed through the 'Yotes, sweeping them out of not only the playoffs but possibly Phoenix/Glendale and sauntering their way into the second round, familiar territory for this franchise.

The Sharks quickly dispatched of the Kings, the Red Wings did away with the Coyotes.  Both are well rested and ready to make it to the Conference Finals.  The biggest question for each becomes goaltending.  Jimmy Howard has never been deeper than this.  Antti Niemi won the Cup last year.  Which one is more prepared for the grind?  Take the guy whose been there.

Prediction: Sharks 4-3

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