NHL Playoff Previews [Western Conference]

Breaking Down the Western Conference [NHL Round 1 Playoff Previews]

4/30/13 in NHL   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Hello out there in FanIQ Land and welcome to a very special edition of our NHL pregame show!  The playoffs are upon us, and we're here to break down each and every matchup for you.  I'm Bryan, your thorn between two roses.  Joining me as always are my co-hostesses with the mostesses, Debi and Jess, but that's not all.  Also on the panel are some of the Q's best and brightest hockey fans.  We're going to preview each of the 8 matchups in two separate blogs, one for each conference.  For those that may not know who we are, allow me to introduce our panel!

Your 3 Hosts:
Debi (JrCanuckFan) - She may be a Canuck, but she's no Vancouver fan.  This girl is a fan of the Calgary Flames.  She's also been one of my co-hostesses all year, and it's been a blast having our very own version of the NBC Studio guys!
Jess - She's your awesome community manager, but not only that she's a fan of the Anaheim Ducks.  Like Debi, it's been a lot of fun doing the live threads and picking the games all season!
Bryan (kramer) - That would be me, BK as I'm affectionately referred to by my co-hostess Jess.  I'm your resident Pittsburgh Penguins fan.  Now that you know a little about your host and hostesses, let's meet our guests panelists who will be breaking down the playoffs here with us.

Special Guests:
Dan (Dan_B) - He's your chief editor of the FanIQ Blog and other community manager, and a great addition to our writing crew!  He's also a fan of King Henrik and the New York Rangers.
Scott - He's the Q guru, been here since forever, and he's from the Gateway to the West.  Yep, you guessed it, Scott is a fan of the St. Louis Blues.
Christi (AlwaysSunshine) - It's been said that Christi and I were separated at birth.  Anyway, she's one of the Q's most active members, and loves her hockey.  She's a fan of the Nashville Predators
Marcus (marcus_nyce) - This man is your QMZ go-to guy.  He's always good for a laugh, and a huge asset to the Q.  He's a fan of the Montreal Canadiens
ML31 - Like a lot of these guests he's been around a very long time, and a huge contributor all across the board.  ML is a fan of the San Jose Sharks

Nick (Nick__): Good for a laugh, a great fan of the game, and a fan of the #1 team in the regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sid (Sharp Square): Sid doesn't have a favorite hockey team, but he's a great addition to the Q.  He does follow the NHL, and is still here to give us some analysis from an unbiased view...maybe.
Jonathan (The_Real_Stoney):  Stoney is actually an amateur hockey player himself, and I wish he would bring back his classes, he's a really fun teacher and is also a great addition to our writer staff as well as the Q as a whole.  He's a fan of the Colorado Avalanche.

Blog Photo - NHL Playoff Previews [Western Conference]
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard!  We're going to let our guests go first.  This is your Western Conference playoff preview for Round 1.  We're each going to give you a short analysis of each series and give you our pick for it.  Your matchups in the west are as follows...

1 Chicago Blackhawks vs 8 Minnesota Wild
2 Anaheim Ducks vs 7 Detroit Red Wings
3 Vancouver Canucks vs 6 San Jose Sharks
4 St. Louis Blues vs 5 Los Angeles Kings

Blog Photo - NHL Playoff Previews [Western Conference]
Dan: I know that big upsets are more common in the NHL than in other sports, but this matchup does not bode well for the Wild. The Blackhawks were the NHL’s best team from start to finish and, amazingly, were first in the league in goals against and second in goals scored. That is balance. Chicago in five.

Scott: The Blackhawks are the most complete team in the Western Conference.  If Minnesota wants any chance of pulling off the upset, then Zach Parise and goaltender Niklas Backstrom are going to have to come up huge for the Wild
Blackhawks in 5
Christi: This should be an interesting matchup because this is the Wild’s first playoff appearance in five years.  It came down to the wire for the Wild, who outshot the Blackhawks in each of their meetings this year.  If the Wild can forget about the calamitous end of their regular season (they got their behinds handed to them by Edmonton, ffs, and squeaked into the playoffs), and just play hockey, they may be okay.  Backstrom will have to be flawless in net.  At the same time, the Blackhawks have been en fuego this year.  They are deep.  With talent like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marion Hossa coming at them, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise will be earning their pay.
My prediction?  Hawks in 4.

Marcus: Minny has some high profile, high priced pieces, but Chicago has a complete team that comes in waves, over and over again. The Wild will want to slow these games down to a grinding halt as much as possible, but the Hawks can play that game just as well as anybody when push comes to shove. (Pun intended) Even if the games are closer than people expect,t his is my first round sweep. Chicago in 4 really close ones.

ML31: Hawks over Wild in 5.
Wild has improved but Hawks just too good.

Nick: I can't go against my Hawks, thee best team in the NHL this year. One thing that concerns my superstitious side is that the last time the Hawks won the Presidents Trophy, they got bounced by the Minnesota North Stars ('91-92). That franchise has moved to Dallas, but, how coincidental that they face a new Minnesota franchise after winning the President's Trophy again?  HAWKS in 5 games

Sid: Again we have what seems to be a fairly one sided series. The hawks have a ton of firepower this season and should be able to handle the Wild in most aspects of the game. Blackhawks should be in for a deep playoff run.

Jonathan: The Wild were one of the biggest surprises and best teams in the league heading out to the quarter pole of the season after the acquisitions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this summer, only to almost blow it and have to squeak into the playoffs thanks to a tiebreaker over Columbus. Chicago spent the first half of the season breaking records and is probably the deepest team in the NHL. I love their 3rd line, they have 3 solid pairs of defense, and 3 big time/big situation players in Toews, Kane, and Hossa.  The Hawks have shown that they can play any style of game and I don’t see the Wild being much of a test.  If only Ryan Suter could play 45-50 minutes a game.
Hawks 4-1

Debi:  I predict the Hawks will win this, if they play like they have all season, no doubt.  However, the Wild have impressed me this year.  I don't think they will just lie down and let the Hawks ride roughshod all over them.  It will be fun, for some of it, but in the end, the talent and cohesiveness of the Hawks will prevail.  Hawks in 5

Jess: The Blackhawks are ridiculously deep both on offense and at the critical post-season position, goaltending. The Wild have some great weapons but I just can't see them taking this series. They may take one upset at home but even that's stretching things a bit.
Blackhawks in 4

BK: A little history lesson...the last time the Hawks won the President's Trophy was 1991.  They were upset in the first round by the Minnesota North Stars who went on to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Deja vu?  Not this time.  Minnesota is the only team in the playoffs with a minus goal differential (-5), going up against the team with the best (+53).  Chicago won the season series 2-0-1, and the Wild kind of stumbles into the playoffs a bit.  I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the brooms come out in this one.
Blackhawks in 5

Blog Photo - NHL Playoff Previews [Western Conference]
Dan: This isn’t your parents’ Red Wings squad. Or even your older sibling’s. Detroit needed a late-season push just to qualify for the playoffs, but unfortunately for the Ducks, the Red Wings are playing their best hockey at the right time, as they enter the playoffs on a four-game win streak. I still don’t think it is enough to topple the Ducks, though. Anaheim in seven.

Scott: I'm just not sold on Anaheim, especially after the way they ended the season.  I know they are playing a Red Wings team that isn't the same as years past but I think the Red Wings still have the experience, enough talent and the goaltending of Jimmy Howard to surprise the Ducks.
Red Wings in 6
Christi: Why do I hear the Imperial March from Star Wars whenever anyone mentions the Red Wings?  This year’s Red Wings have not seemed to be the same team I have seen in seasons past.  Over the course of almost four weeks (March 25-April 20), they did not win back-to-back games.  The Ducks have done a good job of moving the puck this season and I think they will control the tone of this series for the most part.
My prediction?  Ducks in 5.

Marcus: The Wings got old all of a sudden and had a Lakers-like, star crossed year. That is no longer a complement. I’m not sure how much this veteran team has left in the tank, but I do think Anaheim’s high octane power play will be the big difference in this series. The best subplot of the playoffs will be Wings coach Babccok dropping a few Zen Matser-ish sounds bites regarding the style of Ducks play and the officiating, followed by a Bruce “EFF BOMB!” Boudreau Sam Jackson retort. Get your popcorn ready!
Ducks in 5.
ML31: Wings over Ducks in 6.
Wings are gelling and the only difference in the Ducks this year from last seems to be Fasth. This could go the other way if he gets on a roll, though. 

Nick: Anaheim had a nice year! They fizzled a little towards the end of the year, somewhat.  Will the Ducks be consistent enough, especially their goaltending, to beat a very experience Detroit team that had not so good of a year? I'm afraid to go against Detroit with all of the skill that team has.  DET in 7

Sid: Sometimes that team who just finds a way to sneak in can be dangrous and it took a late win streak for the wings to slip in. Howard is always a tough cookie in net during the playoffs and the wings still have a veteran presence. But this doesn't seem like the Wing teams of old and the Ducks are physical and ready to take it to em, look for Perry to have a productive series and put the Ducks into round 2.

Jonathan: Despite things getting a little dicey over the last couple weeks, the Red Wings were able to make the playoffs for the 125th consecutive season. The Ducks had a fantastic regular season that was completely overshadowed by the Hawks and Pens.  It’s going to be interesting to see what the Ducks do in net.  Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller both had 15 wins, and I don’t think either has done anything in the last month to put himself head and shoulders above the other.  No matter what, the Wings are going to have their hands full with Getzlaf and Perry, a pesky depth of forwards and one of the best PPs in the league.  As for the Wings, they finally showed some fire, and Jimmy Howard seemed to wash away some of the funk that plagued him this year in the last week. Personally, I’m not sold on the Ducks, I think Zetterberg, Datsyuk are playing well right now, and this one has upset written all over it.
Red Wings 4-2

Debi:  I simply will not say the Wings can beat the Ducks.  I simply don't believe it, even though I am not seeing the best of the Ducks playing.  All the way to seven, but Ducks prevail.

Jess: The Red Wings are playing their best right now, and Anaheim is playing their worst. I'm with Scott; I'm not sold on the Ducks, and they're my team. So frustrating it is to watch your team have to come from behind almost every time they play in order to win or even just take it into overtime. It's been that way all season, and lately that style of play has been biting them in the ass. Playing one-period-hockey isn't going to cut it in the playoffs, regardless of how much better your team is than your opponent. I sincerely hope they step it up like I've seen them do on rare occasions this season and play entire games. If they can do that, I think they have a good shot at advancing. As per usual, I won't offer a prediction for my team, but I will pray.

BK: Ugh, the streak continues.  They're like cockroaches, they just won't go away!  Anaheim hasn't exactly set the world on fire going into the playoffs while the Wings won their last 4 just to get in.  They won the season series 2-1 did Detroit.  However, the fact that the Wings finished the season with a losing record on the road (11-9-4) could be the difference here.  This series will no doubt go right down to the wire, but I think the team that has the home ice advantage will come out on top.
Ducks in 7

We'll be right back on Page 2 with a look at the other two series after these messages and a word from your local stations!
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5/14/13   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

Looks like I went 4 for 4 in the west.  Not too bad...   smiley

5/1/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

The_Real_Stoney wrote:
Fun times. Thanks for putting this together BK

No, thank you to you guys for throwing your .02 in.  It was a lot of fun seeing everyone's analysis.

4/30/13   |   The_Real_Stoney   |   25657 respect

Fun times. Thanks for putting this together BK

4/30/13   |   kobe_lova   |   62364 respect

Go Kings! And WoOdy...but not the wings. 

4/30/13   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

ML31 wrote:
If anyone cares...  I did pick the Kings over the Blues in 7 in probably the most interesting match up in the west.

I added that in just now, you did not mention that in the message you sent me with your picks and analysis. That was the one series absent.

4/30/13   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

If anyone cares...  I did pick the Kings over the Blues in 7 in probably the most interesting match up in the west.