San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings
This matchup might be the heaviest of all the 1st round matchups in the NHL. Two heavyweights of the Western Conference will go out in the very beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The (P2) San Jose Sharks and (P3) Los Angeles Kings we rekindle their playoff rivalry after the Kings advanced in the Western Conference Semifinals last season.
Both teams have superb goaltending and a very effective defensive corps. The Sharks offense is high-flying and the chemistry between the guys seems too good to be true. Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, among others, have had exceptional seasons while the Kings do not have the same kind of depth after their first line.
Prediction: This series will come down to offense. With two teams so evenly matched everywhere else, the offensive difference becomes the first problem for the Kings. That’s not to say that the Kings are bad on offense. Couple that with the fact that the Sharks have home ice and are beyond exceptional at home does not bode well for the Kings.
Sharks in 7.
St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks
Both the (C2) St. Louis Blues and (C3) Chicago Blackhawks had great seasons topping 107+ points.
The Blues have seen better days, though. St. Louis capped off of its great season with a 6-game losing streak but have also seen a plethora of injuries recently. The Blues need their full roster to pull out the series win against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The Blackhawks are known for dominating when they advance. When they get on a roll, they get on a roll. The Blackhawks are signed up for a dogfight in this one but have to be careful because they could be easily eliminated in the 1st round.
Prediction: St. Louis pushes hard and eventually the series will come down to Game 6. I think that St. Louis, if healthy, will take this series in 6 games.
Anaheim Ducks vs Dallas Stars
The (P1) Anaheim Ducks and (WC2) Dallas Stars will meet for the 4th time this season in Game 1.
The Stars put up a valiant effort to make the playoffs but will have their hands full against Anaheim. Dallas took 2 out of 3 against Anaheim but they face a situation where they can’t blink or else the score could be 4-1.
The future looks bright for Dallas, but I don’t think they will be able to defeat the explosive offensive that involves Ryan Getzlaf, a man who could finish second in MVP voting this season.
Prediction: With a series that has scoring written all over it, the goaltending and defensive play will be the X-Factor in this one. Anaheim definitely has the advantage there and will take this series in 6 games. I think the Stars can steal a couple games but at most only 2.
Anaheim in 6.
Colorado Avalanche vs Minnesota Wild
Have the (C1) Colorado Avalanche turned it around this season or what? The Avalanche narrowly came away with the Central Division with a strong finish and rebounded off of a season where they had the second fewest points in the NHL.
They will take on the (WC1) Minnesota Wild who have now made the playoffs 2 years in a row since signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The Avalanche are so young, they might as well be college kids out there.
Their top 4 guys of Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Ryan O’Reilly have proven that you don’t need guys in your mid to late 20s to win games. All four guys are under 24 years old.
The Wild need their depth to propel them past the Avs. They can’t rely on Parise and Suter and need solid goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov to advance. While the Wild made a very strong push to the playoffs, the Avs should be too much to handle.
Prediction: The Wild steal a game but not much after that. Avs win in 5 games with their youth and speed.