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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

NHL Playoff Predictions — West — 1st Round

Canucks vs. Kings

The Canucks are hurting due to missing Daniel Sedin. The Kings badly out-shot the Canucks in their last meeting (38-25) in which the Canucks squeaked-out a 1-0 victory. In the four games between the teams this year, both have won two games.

I believe that the Canucks will find a way to win the series but they could get themselves into big trouble if they don’t score some goals and if they rely too much on Luongo. Luongo can be excellent or he can fall-apart. For the Kings, Quick has the ability to shut a team down, Dustin Brown is finally playing up to his ability, Kopitar is returning to form, Williams and Mitchell are playing very well, Doughty is turning things around, and Carter has provided additional offense as well as some inspiration to these other guys—but unfortunately the inspiration to the King players has been fear for their jobs, and especially Dustin Brown.

All said, if the Canucks don’t give all that they have then the Kings will be advancing to the Second Round.  

Blues vs. Sharks

The Blues have won all four games this season (4-2, 1-0, 3-0, 3-1) so they are obviously the favorite to win this series. Elliott has an injury but I think the Blues would have started Halak anyway. Niemi has been good in the playoffs so you can expect him to play well for the Sharks. The Sharks are a solid playoff team and have knocked-off the Red Wings two years in a row, and therefore, only a fool would count them out of this series. It would not be a surprise if it goes six or seven games. If the Blues get the great goaltending and play to their potential they should be able to come out on top. The Sharks are not as strong this year due to trading Heatley—a trade that really made no sense on paper and has proven to be a disaster.

Coyotes vs. Blackhawks

Most people are taking the Blackhawks to win this series, but not me. The Coyotes won three of the four games between the teams this year (5-2 loss, 4-1 win, 4-3 win, 3-0 win), and they are a much improved team as compared to last year. Bryzgalov totally collapsed in the 1st Round last year, but I doubt that will happen with Mike Smith—who played absolutely amazing in the last couple of weeks of the regular season. The Coyotes can win this series within six games.

Red Wings vs. Predators

This is a tough series to pick but I have to give the nod to the Predators because the Red Wings are beat-up a bit, because the Predators have strengthened their team with trades, because Radulov has returned, and because the Predators have home ice advantage. Each team has won three of the six games between the teams, but the Predators have won the last two. If Rinne plays like he did last year in the playoffs, the Predators can provide a crushing blow to the Red Wings season.

TJ Stanley