Favorite time of year. EVER. Except for maybe my birthday (for those of you who are dying to know, my 21st is coming up on April 15!) I love the playoffs, because it’s completely anything goes. Every fan comes out with their predictions and hopes to God that they can say “I told you so” to their friends in the form of stealing their money from the pot. My friend’s family does a pool every year, and even the dog gets picks. Take a wild guess as to who has won the last 2 years. The dog.
Always wondered how they did this without opposable thumbs
So, even though I’m your resident Western Conference girl, I’m gonna give you my picks for both the Eastern and Western Conference first rounds in two different posts just to give your eyes a break form reading my obviously riveting ideas. Get pumped guys, $#!+ is about to get real.
That's right, Georgie. Time to put on your big boy pants.
Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings
This is definitely a matchup that will be an interesting one to watch. The Red Wings are a staple in the NHL playoffs, having qualified for the playoffs every season since 1990-1991 (not including the lockout). The Predators, however, have lost in the first round of the playoffs 5 years out of the 8 they’ve qualified in their short history. But I think this year will be different. They have home ice advantage, and Detorit is constantly riding the struggle bus on their road games. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter can shut down Pavel Datsyuk, not to mention making major contributions on the power play. Then again, the Red Wings are the Red Wings. Their roster is stacked, with players like Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Kronwall, and Stuart, making them a very intimidating team on paper. At the end of the day though, with their injury problems and road woes, I don’t think that this is Detroit’s year, especially with a first round against Nashville. The Preds have waited long enough, and they deserve to make it through the first round, especially with their depth. Predators in 7.
St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Sharks
I’m still in shock that St. Louis is sitting just below Vancouver on the top of the Western Conference. But this is why I love hockey: any team could just be the one to win it all. Alright, let’s get down to business. In my opinion, it’s just this side of no contest. The Blues are going to take this series. They’ve dominated the regular season and took over the toughest division in the NHL, which, in case you’ve forgotten, holds 4 out of the 8 playoff spots. Their goaltending tandem is completely solid, as opposed to the Sharks, whose goalies have struggled throughout the season. Even given that, the Sharks are a playoff-built team. They’ve made it very far in past years, but have yet to reach the coveted finals and seem to always fall short. This might be another year for that. Blues in 6.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings
Ah, the Canucks. Anyone who has read my posts before knows what I think of the Canucks. I’m not a fan. However, they’re the President’s Trophy winners for the second year in a row, so you have to give credit where credit is due. Truly, I think the Kings have a shot with a goaltender whose name should speak for itself. Jonathan Quick is one of a few goalies in the league that send shivers down the spine of any player skating towards him down the ice with the puck on his stick. But, aside form the goalie duel that will be one of the best, I think this will be one series that will absolutely go to 7 games. Like everyone says, now the regular season doesn’t matter. It’s win or go home, and I’m hoping for an upset on this one. The Canucks aren’t drastically different than they were last year or the year before, aside from the acquisition of David Booth from Florida earlier in the season. I think they can only make it past the first round if Roberto Luongo stays hot, because when he’s on he’s great, and when he’s not, it’s a collapsing Jenga tower of crap. Their forwards are phenomenal, but they’re such perfectionists as well. You can see it so easily when something doesn’t go their way, they start yet another collapse of frustration. And for those of you reading this thinking I just want an upset because I’m not a huge Vancouver fan, just hold your horses. I simply think the Kings’ cooler heads will prevail. Kings in 7.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes
I wish I could say I wished for this matchup. If we’re being honest, I wanted both Phoenix and Chicago to make it to the semis, but unfortunately for me and one of these teams, they can’t both make it. Now, given past experience, normally this would be a shoo-in for the Blackhawks to win the series in probably 5 games. However, the Coyotes have won 3 of the 4 regular season meetings with the Blackhawks and have one hell of a solid goaltender in Mike Smith, who is coming off of an absolutely stellar 5-game run. This is an underdog team, and the underdog fights a hell of a lot more because they feel they have something to prove. Not to mention, poor Captain Sexpanther is still sidelined with an injury, which could prove to be a major break for the Coyotes. With that said, I don’t believe that Phoenix is a playoff-built team. They don’t have the playoff experience to survive against a team that is truly stacked. Basically what I’m saying is forget the regular season. The Blackhawks are the legitimately deeper, better, more talented team, and I think the only thing that can save the Coyotes is one hell of a performance from Mike Smith. He’s their not-so-secret weapon. With that said, if the Blackhawks don’t underestimate the Coyotes and Captain Sexpanther comes back healthy, they should be unstoppable. Blackhawks in 6.
What do you guys think about the Western Conference? Let us know in the comments, and get your playoff beards ready!