Western Conference Playoff Breakdown- Round 1

Western Conference

Vancouver Canucks (1) vs Los Angeles Kings (8)

With the Presidents trophy once again returning to Vancouver, the Canucks hope to take their regular season dominance straight to the Stanley Cup finals yet again.  With the same names stepping up two years in a row, brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin (who have a combined 148 points this year) have shown what it takes to lead a team to the Stanley Cup and hope to finish the job this year.  The Canucks have been surging lately going 8-2 in their last 10 which includes a 1-0 win over the Kings.  The Kings, however, have other news for the Canucks and hope that their latest trade for star Jeff Carter will pay high dividends this year.  Jonathan Quick cannot be forgotten either.  His solid play has kept the Kings alive this entire season finishing with a 1.95 GAA and a .929 SV%.

This matchup is one that has upset written all over it as long as the Kings can keep Carter and Richards hot.

Prediction: Canucks in 7 

St. Louis Blues (2) vs San Jose Sharks (7) 

With one of the biggest surprises this year in the NHL being the dominance of St. Louis Blues, the question was asked on whether or not they would be able to succeed in the playoffs? With such a young squad and a new head coach, the pressure is on Blues to keep things rolling into the postseason.  The man to watch will certainly be starting goaltender Brian Elliot who led all goalies in the NHL with best GAA of 1.56 and best SV% of 0.94. He has been a bright spot for the team this year and looks to have a bright future ahead of him.  As for the Sharks, the word disappointment never seems to far off.  Too many times have the Sharks been in the Blues position with their dominating regular season play only to make an early exit in the playoffs.  This year though, will be different.  The Sharks led by Joe Thortons 77 points, looks to make this year different than years past and finally claim the cup as their own.

With the Sharks finding a hot streak at the right time, it will be exciting to see whether the best goaltender will be able to stop such a dangerous offense in a seven game series.

Prediction: Sharks in 7

Phoenix Coyotes (3) vs Chicago Blackhawks  (6) 

Just like the Eastern conference matchup, the matchup between the Coyotes and the Blackhawks pairs the team with more points in the lower seed.  Although the Coyotes have fewer points than the Blackhawks, they certainly have played more consistant hockey throughout the year and are entering the series on a five game win streak.  Goaltender Mike Smith has been a pleasant surprise to the people in Phoenix after Ilya Bryzgalov was traded to Philadelphia at the start of the season.  Smith has played well the majority of the year and could be a huge reason to the success of the Coyotes moving forward.  The Blackhawks will rely heavily on Patrick Kane as forward Jonathan Towes is still out and unknown on whether or not he will make his return.

The goaltender edge goes to Phoenix in this matchup but unfortunately for them thats only half the battle, with a healthy Blackhawks team on the Horizon, the Coyotes might have trouble controlling the personal match ups.

Prediction: Coyotes in 6 

Nashville Predators (4) vs Detroit Red Wings (5) 

As one of the most anticipated series of the first round, the Predators and the Red Wings square off in a matchup full of star power.  With praised defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber and skilled goaltender Pekke Rinne, Nashville looks to make their push for the cup now or never.  Suter and Weber become free agents after this year which means it could be do or die for this team.  Thats never the opponent you want to run into in the playoffs, but if any team has a chance against them, it’s the Red Wings.  With obviously the most playoff experience out of any team competing, the Red Wings look to veterans like Zetterberg and Datsyuk to lead them to another cup.

This is gearing up to be an intense matchup between to highly talented teams and is one that fans should absolutely be looking forward to.

Prediction: Red Wings in 7 

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