Articles

The Season – West Predictions

In Hockey Hits on April 12, 2011 by geespotting

THE SEASON

…Ok, I reviewed my East predictions for the regular season yesterday, and now a peek at the West. Here are the predictions, and each team’s actual placements in brackets:

MINE

1. San Jose (2)

2. Vancouver (1)

3. Detroit (3)

4. Chicago (8)

5. Los Angeles (7)

6. St. Louis (not in playoffs)

7. Phoenix (6)

8. Nashville (5)

…I had the Ducks way down in the 13th spot, but, a huge last week vaulted them into seed number 4! Let’s roll through the predictions:

(1) VANCOUVER VS. (8) CHICAGO

…It’s the league’s top team against the champs! It’s their 3rd playoff battle in as many years, and this time, I think the Nucks are poised to win, and take the wind out of the Windy City! Heading into the post-season, Vancouver has all of their defence healthy…which did not happen until the final game of the year…good timing! The injury to Manny Malhotra will hurt when it comes to faceoffs, and the intangibles, but, this team is good on almost every single level of the game. They scored more than anyone else, and allowed the fewest goals. The PP and penalty kill are incredible, and they boast the best 1-2 tandem up front w/ the Sedins. The Hawks will make it a series, even though their Cup winning team from a year ago was dismantled as soon as the parade ended. That being said, it’s that core that still remains, w/ players like Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Hossa, Sharp & Bolland. But, it was a very short off season for this club, and it might be too much to ask of this core to provide another Cup run, and there are more question marks in the Chicago net than there are in Vancouver’s. Should be the most entertaining series of the first round!

CANUCKS IN 7.

(2) SAN JOSE VS. (7) LOS ANGELES

…The battle of California does not look like much of a battle on paper, especially when you consider the 2nd half of the season that the Sharks had, and the struggles down the stretch the Kings had. That being said, I think L.A. can win a couple of games, due to the fact San Jose always seems to start slow in any given playoff year, and that has led to 1st round exits before. Last year, Craig Anderson stoned San Jose & stole a couple of games for Colorado. Jonathon Quick will have to do the same for the Kings. And a little good news for L.A. in the fact that Justin Williams might be back in this series. There will not be an upset w/ an Anze Kopitar on the sidelines, and the powerhouse 3 lines that the Sharks can throw at you.

SHARKS IN 6.

(3) DETROIT VS. (6) PHOENIX

…Them Coyotes are my team, and last year, I had them to win the 7 game series that they would eventually lose after going the distance w/ the mighty Wings. This year, I see another long one, and I am hoping that my Red Wing prediction to win will backfire like last year when I picked Phoenix. But, upon looking at the series, Detroit should at least get the round one win. Jimmy Howard has proven that last year’s stand-out rookie season was not a fluke, Nik Lidstrom is on track for another Norris win, and playoff proven performers are ready to roll for Detroit w/ a healthier Datsyuk, Cleary, Franzen and company. There is some concern w/ Henrik Zetterberg who will not play in the first game or two, and if the Coyotes are to win the series, a steal in one of the first 2 games at the Joe will be key! As for Phoenix, Keith Yandle’s play was elevated to one of the top scoring d-men in the league, following his breakout 2009-2010 season. The problem for Phoenix will be their lack of scoring from the forwards. Last year, players like Wolski & Lombardi were huge contributors, but, they are both gone, as well as Scottie Upshall. Those players alone also added incredible speed from Phoenix, which was huge in their forecheck, especially last Spring when it came to getting on the likes of Lidstrom, Kronwall and Stuart. Ilya Bryzgalov will have to be better than the regular season in order for the dogs to move on to another desert path!

RED WINGS IN 7.

(4) ANAHEIM VS. (5) NASHVILLE

…A pretty intriguing final match-up as the Predators, who have never moved out of the first round, will battle the Ducks, a team many had predicted to be on the sidelines (including myself) from the start of the season. For the Ducks to prevail, they are going to have press Nashville into taking a ton of penalties, so, that their remarkable PP can get to work w/ Perry, Getzlaf, Selanne, Visnovsky & Ryan. They are also going to need some big playoff performances from players like Beauchemin, Koivu and Jason Blake. It’s a team w/ a good mix of veterans, but, beyond the superstar scorers, it’s a team that lacks depth, ala Tampa Bay. It looks like Dan Ellis will be the man in goal for the Ducks w/ Jonas Hiller on the sidelines, and I don’t think he will be outplaying Pekka Rinne. It’s the big offence for Anaheim, but, it’s the big defence for the Predators. After Rinne, one of the best tenders in the world, the team is rock solid on the point w/ Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, and a pretty good supporting cast. No big names up front, but, decent depth and experience and Rinne should allow Nashville to finally make the move into round two.

PREDS IN 7.

…So, that’s how I see the first round for the East and the West, and tomorrow, prior to the start of the playoffs, I will unfold the rest of the playoffs including my Cup winner! It’s a good time of year, isn’t it?

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