(photo via thehockeynews.com)
The match-ups in the Western Conference this year have to be some of the tightest we’ve seen in years. Our writers/podcasters sat down and took their hacks at who will win each series. Enjoy and feel free to debate in the comments!
Dallas Stars (1) vs Minnesota Wild (8)
Tyler Yaremchuk: This one will be a lot closer than the standings might have you thinking. Seguin should be back for the Stars, which is a huge boost, but even with the addition of Russell I don’t think that Dallas has a good enough defense to go deep in the playoffs. Not a lot of teams in the league can shutdown the duo of Benn and Seguin but I believe the Wild are one of them. If Minnesota can shoot the puck more and put a lot of pressure on the Stars netminder (whoever that happens to be) then I can see them winning. Wild in 7 is my prediction.
Taylor Paniccia: I’ve been saying this for awhile now, watch out for Minnesota heading into playoffs. This is a team that knocked out a favourite in the St. Louis Blues a year ago and if any team is going to take down the top team in the Central Division it’s going to be the Wild. Many people find Minnesota to be a boring hockey club but the fact is they have a system and it works! Minnesota has the potential to completely shutdown Dallas’ offensive heavy team and expose their weakness in the backend as their defence and goaltending in my mind is just not up to par to make a deep playoff run. Wild in 7 games.
Josh Goodings: Dallas in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: Minnesota in 6.
BTI PREDICTS: UP SET ALERT! BTI says Minnesota in 7 Games.
St. Louis Blues (2) vs Chicago Blackhawks (3)
Tyler Yaremchuk: This should absolutely be the best series this year. These two teams always give us a classic. This may not be the popular opinion anymore but I still don’t trust the Blues in the playoffs. Their goaltending has always been great during the regular season but it always starts to look shaky come April. Tarasenko might be able to shoot this team into the second round, literally, but I still have a tough time betting against the Blackhawks. Their all around depth is so much better than the Blues in my opinion and if Crawford can play like he has the past few playoffs than this series will be won in the Windy City. Hawks in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: The Chicago Blackhawks are just too good. Their forward group is too deep and their defense and goaltending is exactly where it needs to be to take home yet another Stanley Cup. This is an experienced bunch (obviously) and with the additions their club made at the deadline, look for them to take down an unreliable bunch in St. Louis. Hawks in 6 games.
Josh Goodings: Hawks in 6.
Niti Krasniqi: Chicago in 7.
BTI PREDICTS: This one will go deep, but BTI is saying Hawks in 6.
Anaheim Ducks (4) vs Nashville Predators (7)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Nashville has been essentially .500 over their final 10 games. Anaheim has been close to the opposite, going 6-2-2. The Ducks have gone through so much as a unit this year and I feel like that gives them a psychological edge over the Preds. After the horrific start to the season, after so many people thought their team would be stripped down, and to finally make it to the post-season, this will be a very motivated team to say the least. My Pick in this one is Ducks in 5.
Taylor Paniccia: This matchup is very uneven. The Nashville Predators are not as good as they used to be. The Anaheim Ducks have been classified as the best team in the NHL in the second half of the season. This is a team that was in last place at one point and any team that battles adversity gels just a little bit closer than other teams. Anaheim’s offence is completely alive and they have had solid goaltending for the makeup of the entire season. Look for Anaheim to really make a ton of noise in the playoffs this year and to simply move past the first round. Ducks in 5 games.
Josh Goodings: Anaheim in 5.
Niti Krasniqi: Anaheim in 6.
BTI PREDICTS: Close to a unanimous decision. BTI is going with the Anaheim Ducks in 5 games.
LA Kings (5) vs San Jose Sharks (6)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Martin Jones will have a chip on his shoulder, I feel like he could get going and prove he’s a true #1, if he hasn’t already. LA was the best possession team in the league with a whopping 56.4 CF%. They also fired the 2nd most shots/60 in the NHL. While those are some unreal numbers, San Jose’s are anything to laugh at. In terms of CF% they ranked 9th in the league and should prove to be a good opponent. My head is saying “PICK LA YOU DUMMY” but my gut says go with San Jose and, being the dummy I am, I’ll take San Jose in 7.
Taylor Paniccia: San Jose simply can not win come playoff time and it will stay that way with a matchup against a big, bruising, playoff experienced, LA Kings roster. With a defensively accountable forward group on top of elite goaltending from Jonathan Quick the LA kings take down a choke heavy San Jose organization. Kings in 6 games.
Josh Goodings: LA in 6.
Niti Krasniqi: LA in 7.
BTI PREDICTS: The consensus on this one, is the LA Kings to take the battle of SoCal/NoCal in 6 games.
LISTEN TO THE OVERTIME PODCAST PLAYOFF PREVIEW HERE: