NHL Playoff Western Conference Preview
The hawks took an early exit from the playoffs last year at the hands of the St. Louis blues in 7 games. The Blackhawks, since then have locked up the #1 seed and have been on a tear tallying up a second best for the franchise in points with 109 going 50-23-9. Look, the hawks have had quite a bit of success in the playoffs winning 3 cups since 2010, and are a force usually going deep into the playoffs. I personally still think they can squeeze out another cup or two with the dynamic duo of Kane and Toews.
The predators are always a fun team to watch in the playoffs but never seem to be a serious contender to win it all. They’ll make a team sweat for a game or 2, maybe even 3 but for some reason they don’t get those lucky bounces or calls that can swing a series. Yeah they sometimes can get past the first round and give their fans a little optimism and hope, buuuut that usually all dies along with the predators in the second round. Maybe with the replacing of Shea weber with the speedy PK Subban, they might be able to sneak a couple past Chicago.
This series is Chicago’s to lose. Hawks in 6
Edmonton- San Jose
FINALLLYYYY we get to see the second coming, the savior, the new Sidney Crosby/ Wayne Gretzky. Connor McDavid. I am 1000% sold on McDavid. The dude can flat out play. Just turned 20 years old and already has a 100 point season (30G and 70A). He is ahead of both Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane by ELEVEN points. Beast. The oilers were untouchable in the 80’s and then died. Haven’t been in the playoffs since 2006. They have some excellent young players and they are finally all coming together at the right time which should make for a great playoff run. Since 2011 they have had 3 1st overall picks and a 3rd overall. Expect this crowd to be WILD when puck drop comes.
I understand the sharks were in the cup final last year, but they just didn’t seem like they belonged. Losing to the penguins in 6, which I’m surprised they even snuck 2 wins if were being totally honest. San Jose is a solid team, I think a little on the older side, which there is nothing wrong with some veteran presence but the team speed is what you should be worried about. Also a couple of key guys are battling injuries on top of battling father time, not the most ideal combination.
The only way I see Edmonton losing is if cam Talbot just lays an absolute egg in net.
Oilers in 6
Minnesota- St. Louis
Minnesota is another one of those teams. I always find myself rooting for them but they just never seem to get those lucky wins (it’s kind of hard when you find yourself playing the Blackhawks or Dallas stars in the 1st round). They are a team that moves fast and can usually find the open guy, just needs to get quality shots on net and to be sturdy defense wise. The season series goes in St. Louis’s favor 3-2, but as I said previously, throw that stat out the window since these two teams haven’t seen each other in over a month. Both teams having solid goaltenders usually call for an exciting series.
Although St. Louis is back in the playoffs they are missing a lot of important impact players from years’ prior. The most notable being the stud defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk who was traded at the deadline to the powerhouse Washington Capitals. Besides Vladimir Tarasenko there is no real game changer for the blues, which could end up being a fatal void or could set up the stage for someone to come up huge and make a name for them. Either way I will be keeping a close eye on this series. I think this is the year Minnesota finally figures it out.
Wild in 7.
Last but certainly not least is the ducks against the flames. I’ll keep this one short. The ducks are in a similar position with the sharks except the flames aren’t as good as the oilers. The ducks also have more skill players who can put the puck in the net. Their style of play is something special, which is why they are always a constant threat in the playoffs. Like what I said about the Washington series, I believe that Anaheim in the superior team here and that should reflect relatively early on in this series. I do think that Calgary has some talent that needs a little more time to really develop. This is their second playoff appearance in 10 years. Compare that to the Ducks who finished in 1st place in their division for what feels like forever (5 years and counting). I just can’t see how the flames can stop the Corey Perrys and the Ryan Getzlafs and the Ryan Keslers from just dominating the game with their size, strength and smarts. I’m not a fan of the sweep unless my team is doing it so I’m gonna go out and say that the flames will win a game, maybe a second in OT but that will be the extent of their luck.
Ducks in 5