In case you missed my Eastern conference preview for round one, click here. If not, please read on for my western conference predictions…
San Jose Sharks (1) vs. Anaheim Ducks (8)
Prediction: Ducks in 7.
No I’m not drunk or high or under the influence of any intoxicating beverage or drug. I just want to be the first writer here to call an upset over the best team in the entire National Hockey League, the San Jose Sharks. They are under tremendous pressure, considering they seem to do well every season and finish near the top, yet never go deep in the playoffs. Although this seems to be their year, I don’t think they will go far. The Ducks are a tough North American style built team, with grizzled veterans that have been there and done that and I have faith that Jonas Hiller can lead his team to victory. If not, they can always fall back on one time Stanley Cup Finals MVP J.S Giguere to lead the way.
Prediction: Red Wings in 4.
The Blue Jackets have had a magical run to this year’s playoffs, which is special because it is the first time in their franchise history that they made it this far. But other then Rick Nash they have a very weak offense and also a no-name defense. Steve Mason has been spectacular this season but the playoffs are a different animal and I expect him to falter. The Red Wings on the other hand have problems in goaltending but their defense and offense will heavily make up for it. I have the Red Wings going to at least the Western Conference Finals.
Vancouver Canucks (3) vs. St. Louis Blues (3)
Prediction: Blues in 6.
The Vancouver Canucks have seen a sudden resurgence ever since signing Mats Sundin this December. Their goaltending is world class and the defensive system they play is effective, but I think the young and energetic Blues can overcome it. They have speed, skill, and some experience and Chris Mason has been one of the hottest goalies down the stretch. Congratulations to John Davidson and Andy Murray for getting this motley bunch that was in twelfth place this January all the way to the sixth seed here in April.
Prediction: Flames in 6.
The Chicago Blackhawks were on of the most exciting teams this season and their fans can finally be proud as they make the playoffs for the first time in over ten years, but their lack of playoff experience is what will ultimately do them in. Come playoff time it doesn’t come down to skill; but to leadership and grit and the Flames under Mike Keenan have plenty of that. Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow and Dion Phaneuf will lead the way all while being backstopped by Miikka Kiprussoff. I can even see the Flames going all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, if they can get past Detroit in the conference finals.