Western Conference Playoff Predictions

Apr 17, 2014 by

Western Conference Playoff Predictions

Colorado v. Minnesota

The epic rise of the Avalanche from 29th place last season to 3rd overall this year is an incredible and unlikely hockey story. This is the type of rise that has been expected from the Edmonton Oilers for years but has yet to come to fruition. Both teams have a plethora of young offensive talent, but the fundamental difference between the two is that Colorado has top goaltending in Semyon Varlamov and an impact coach in Patrick Roy. The question hockey fans are wondering about now is whether this team is ready to win in the playoffs. One could argue Minnesota has the best forward between the two lineups in Zach Parise and the best defenseman in Ryan Suter, but there are question marks in goal and like any series goaltending tends to be the key difference. My hunch tends to side with Minnesota, but it’s hard to be dismissive of the season Colorado has put together and I prefer the collection of forwards Colorado has to offer. Matt Duchene is coming in to his own as a young leader and Eric Johnson is emerging as the elite defender he was once projected to be. Minnesota will keep it close, but I’m going to ignore my instinct and follow my mind.


Colorado wins in 6

St. Louis v. Chicago

St. Louis appeared unbeatable for much of the season and the acquisition of Ryan Miller at the trade deadline further ensconced their contender status. They were well on their way to a President’s trophy, but an unexpected thing happened… Beset by injuries and average goaltending the Blues struggled down the stretch losing their last 6 games of the season. Their punishment for their lacklustre finish is that they must now face the defending champion Blackhawks in the first round.  I like the Blues but given their recent play and their injury troubles surrounding key players TJ Oshie and Patrick Bergland, I don’t like this matchup for them. It’s always hard betting against Jonathon Toews and the former champs and I don’t like the negative momentum following the Blues of late. Sorry St. Louis but you’re going to have to wait at least one more year to win your first Stanley Cup.


Chicago in six

Anaheim v. Dallas

As I hinted in my Eastern Conference predictions yesterday I like Anaheim in this series. The offensive duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are simply too much for Dallas to handle over a seven game series. Anaheim was consistently impressive the entire year and as long as their goaltending holds up they are primed for a deep playoff run. Even after watching them nearly blow a 4-0 lead in game 1, I have little doubt this team will quickly dispense with the Stars. I just cannot see how Dallas can keep it close or even winning more than a single game without a significant injury or two happening to a Ducks player. If I had one sure bet out of all the first round matchups it would be this one.


Anaheim wins in 4


San Jose v. Los Angeles

It seems like for the past decade San Jose appears ready for a long playoff run only to consistently underperform when it matters most. They are unlucky enough to play a tough playoff proven team in Los Angeles in the first round in what will assuredly be a close series that will likely end in seven games. As a Jonathan Quick fan it’s hard for me to bet against my favorite goalie and team from out west. But to borrow a phrase from realtors who think Canada will not suffer a market correction because this country is somehow different, I’m going to go with a hunch and say “it’s different this time”. I think Joe Pavelski will be the difference maker and Anti Niemi will play well enough to find a way to win a long, low scoring, physical series. The sad thing is the winner might get too beat by this series to have a prolonged playoff run. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If you have to watch one series in the first round this is the one.


San Jose wins in 7


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