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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Round One: Western Picks

The Western Conference has been exceptionally good this season. California teams have dominated, and every team was nervous going into their California road trips. Chicago has shown no signs of having a Stanley Cup hangover. Colorado has had a huge turnaround season under Patrick Roy. St. Louis, Minnesota, and Dallas all had exceptional years. So there is no wonder why the West holds several favourites for the Cup this year. It could literally go anywhere.

WEST Match-ups

Anaheim VS. Dallas
Anaheim finished the season with 114 points, second in the race for the Presidents Trophy. They have had stellar goaltending, and their offense has been nothing short of excellent with 266 goals for on the season. They have proven to be a dominating force, and will continue this image through the playoffs.

Dallas squeaked into the playoffs with 91 points (one of two western teams under 100), the lowest of all teams in the playoffs. I don’t think they are a true competitor or threat for the cup this season, especially considering who they have to get through. 

I am taking Anaheim in five. They are just all-around a better team, and I don’t see Dallas being a threat to them this season. But, Dallas has potential in the upcoming years.

San Jose VS. Los Angeles
Both of teams are truly superb. It’s a shame they play in the first round as it would certainly be an entertaining conference final. They both have the talent and the ability to make a deep run, but in this scenario only one will prevail. Both have the depth, elite calibre goaltending, speed, scoring, and defense to be cup contenders. 

On gut feeling I am taking San Jose in seven, because I can’t logically pick one or the other based on statistics/line-up. This could go either way. Watch this series for probably some of the best hockey these playoffs have to offer.

Colorado VS. Minnesota
Colorado has had a huge year when looking at where they were last year. With Patrick Roy (my Jack Adams nominee, hands down) at the helm, this team is as determined as ever, and are confident this is their year. They have everything it takes to win a cup.

Minnesota is the second western team to make the playoffs under 100 points. They have a good line-up, and their goaltending has been playing well. With guys like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, it’s hard to argue that they don’t deserve to move on. They are a good team, but Colorado is simply better.

I am taking Colorado in six. They have a good team, and a great coach. They are convinced that they have what it takes, and this confidence will help carry them to the next level.

St. Louis VS. Chicago
St. Louis has a good team, and managed to bring in a great goaltender in Ryan Miller to prepare for the playoffs. They believe they have a team capable of winning a cup. Top-end talent such as TJ Oshie, and Alex Pietrangelo can carry a team very far. They are certainly going to give the defending champs a run for their money.

Chicago has not slowed down at all coming off of their Stanley Cup championship one year ago.  They have continued their winning ways this season and proved they are ready to take it again. They are looking to continue their trend by winning a third cup in a span of four years which is quite remarkable.

I am taking Chicago in seven. St. Louis will leave everything on the ice and this one will go right down to the wire. Chicago will ultimately take it as they have the experience and knowledge on what it takes to win a cup in today’s NHL.

Summary
The West is just as wide open as the East in the sense that there are so many elite hockey teams in this bunch. Any team that is determined enough, and showcases their talent can go all the way this year. There are some excellent match-ups on this side of the league, so get ready for some great hockey, and some surprises en route to a Stanley cup final.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to give your input below.

Follow me @darrinharmy

2 comments:

I say Anaheim in 6. The Stars have played them tight all year long and even though 91 points squeaks into the playoffs, if Dallas was in the East they probably clear 100. Lehtonen can steal a game or two, but they need Seguin to step up huge.

San Jose in 7. They have to make the cup one of these years right? Its amazing that whoever loses this series could easily win the Cup if they move on. Loser would win the East, too. Incredible.

Chicago in 7. Another series where the loser could probably walk through the East. Such depth of talent in the West. Chicago takes the experience and wins a close one.

Colorado in 6 over Minnesota. Pat Roy has them playing so well right now its scary. Minny has some talent, but Bryzgalov scares me. A lot.

I'm a big Habs fan, but my wife is from Buffalo, and therefore a Sabres fan. Hopefully, St. Louis can get to the conference finals, so the Sabres would get the Blues' 1st round pick instead of their 3rd. :-)

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