TCL Staff Predictions: Round 1 - Western Conference
This week, the staff at TCL got together to present to you their accumulated predictions for round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs. After a highly scientific process, which, for some reason, included Kyle Busch’s dog, we’ve come up with a consensus pick for each of the eight first round series in the NHL!
Right now, we present to you our predictions for the Western Conference. Stay tuned for our East predictions, which will be up shortly, and post your thoughts in the comments below!
(1) VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs. ( 8 ) CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
This is the third year in a row that the Canucks and Blackhawks will square off. The Hawks have taken both previous series, but will they be too weary from fighting to the last second of the regular season to make in 8th spot to beat their rivals? Are the Canucks mature enough, deep enough this season, or is their record breaking, President’s trophy winning season just a façade?
Consensus: Vancouver Canucks in 7
Kip’s Pik: Chicago Blackhawks
Genius or Madness: Adam Pardes, Steph Darwish – Canucks in 4
Previous Meetings: 4, Blackhawks have defeated Canucks in semi-finals in six games two years in a row.
Vancouver: F – Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler; D – Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis; G – Roberto Luongo
Chicago: F – Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, David Bolland; D – Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell; G – Corey Crawford
Vancouver: Manny Malhotra (eye – done)
Chicago: David Bolland (concussion – indefinitely)
Prax’s Take: Everyone is cheering for the Canucks to win the cup, and they’re most people’s favourite. But standing in their way are the Chicago Blackhawks, the team they basically can’t beat. Will they finally get the job done? I say yes. They’re more mature than they were the last two years, Roberto Luongo, the Sedins, Burrows, Kesler, they’re all at the top of their games and they’re very deep. But it’s going to take a lot out of them, because the Blackhawks are pretty damn good as well. Canucks in 7.
Around The Checking Line:
Mark Trible: The only thing worse than a team being in another team's head is.....knowing that they're in another team's head. Chicago has owned Luongo and Vancouver over the last few years and they'll come close to knocking out the prohibitive favorites. Although this time, the Canucks will find a way to overcome their mental block....barely. Canucks in 7.
Adam Pardes: Get your brooms ready. These teams are on two very different pages - Vancouver has seen nothing but success this season, while Chicago has had a rollercoaster of a year after winning the Cup last June. The Blackhawks won't get their proverbial shit together in time to pose a serious threat to the NHL-best Canucks. Kesler and the Sedins will make Corey Crawford look downright silly. Canucks in 4
Patrick Storto: I think experience will be the deciding factor in this one. To think you work hard all year to be the best team in the league and all it gets you is a date with the defending champs in the first round, Ouch! Defending champs prevail and Luongo's playoff pedigree comes into question once again. Blackhawks in 7.
Aaron Green: I personally think the Canucks record is a bit of fool’s gold, they have 3 of the worst teams in the western conference in the North West Division. As good as they can be with the Sedin twins I think the hawks take them out. Chicago has the best Captain in the NHL and he will prove it once again. Blackhawks in 7
Owen Durkin: No Big Buff to make Bobby Lou's playoff life a living hell this time out, and if he falters, the Schneider kid is ready, willing and able. They're too deep, and too poised to lose. This is their year...book itCanucks in 7.
(2) SAN JOSE SHARKS vs. (7) LOS ANGELES KINGS
Despite seeing a lot of each other during the regular season, this will be the first time the Kings and Sharks will face off in the playoffs. The Sharks are yet again poised to prove they aren’t chokers, and the Kings look down and out without their best two forwards. But the Kings have better defense than the Sharks, less question marks in goal, and the Sharks offense hasn’t had the best season – and are already known to falter in the playoffs. What will all of this translate into, in a series where the Sharks are a heavy favourite?
Consensus: San Jose Sharks in 5
Kip’s Pik: San Jose Sharks
Genius or Madness: Adam Pardes, Kings in 5
Previous Meetings: None.
Blogger Showdown: Aaron Green (Los Angeles Kings)
San Jose: F – Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley; D – Dan Boyle; G – Anti Niemi
Los Angeles:: F – Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth, Dustin Penner; D – Jack Johnson, Drew Doughty; G – Jonathan Quick
San Jose: Ryan Clowe (probably for game 1)
Los Angeles: Anze Kopitar (ankle – indefinitely), Justin Williams (shoulder – questionable)
Prax’s Take: While I believe that the Kings’ injuries are being talked about too much – their defense and goaltending is still intact, and they’re supposed to be one of the deepest teams in the league up front – I also believe that the Sharks are able to match them in every category. The Sharks have their own question marks in goal and on defense, but in the end, they will be too hungry to drop this one, and will steamroll over the Kings. Sharks in 5
Around The Checking Line:
Adam Reid: I have a feeling Los Angeles will give the Sharks a run for their money. Drew Doughty will step up and play brilliant. Without Kopitar, Penner and Smyth will step up and take control. Aside from Doughty, Jack Johnsn will also play a role in shutting down the sharks. Niemi falters while Quick plays unbelieveably. Kings in 7.
Micheal Aldred: Too long has San Jose not been able to put up a respectable post-season effort, and this is the year Joe Thornton and company make their mark. With Kopitar injured and a rising star in Logan Couture, the Sharks will be too much to handle in a series sweep. Sharks in 4.
Scott Lowe: San Jose has been the hottest team in hockey during the second half, suffering just six regulation losses in its last 37 games. Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and the goaltending tandem of Quick and Bernier will make it tough on the Sharks, but at some point the Kings will run out of answers for Marleau, Thornton, Heatley, Couture, etc. Sharks in 5.
Matt Brigidi: : I have been in awe of the Pacific Division this year. It was the most competitive division in hockey and all five teams were in the playoff hunt all year. Los Angeles has displayed that they are a good young team, but I think they are a little too young and not enough good without Anze Kopitar. Los Angeles only beat San Jose once without the aide of a shoot out. Sharks in 6.
Patrick Storto: Sharks have the defending champion goaltender on their side. Kings on the other hand are much younger and still getting their feet wet, they'll get spanked. This will be the Sharks' year. (not a recording). Sharks in 5.
Adam Pardes: The Kings have shown over the past two weeks that despite the loss of several key players up front, they are still a team to reckoned with in the West. Hard, gritty hockey and superb goaltending will help them win this series. Not even Joe Pavelski will save the Sharks this year. Kings in 5
Jonathan Szekeres: This one is pretty simple. The Sharks have played absolutely ridiculous hockey the last few weeks. Their offense may not be hitting on all cylinders (Joe Thornton, only 70 points, Dany Heatley only 28 goals) and their defense may not be as deep as last year with Rob Blake’s retirement, but they still have decent goaltending, the second best PP and have several guys that can hurt you. The Kings have lost Justin Williams and most importantly, Anze Kopitar. They may have added Dustin Penner, but he can't get them over the hump. The only advantage the Kings have is their dynamite PP going against the Sharks poor PK. Sharks in 5.
(3) DETROIT RED WINGS vs. (6) PHOENIX COYOTES
Last year, the Wings and Coyotes went the distance. Seven games. While the Wings edged Phoenix in the last game, so you have to think that the underrated Coyotes will be looking for revenge this time around. They have a Norris candidate in Keith Yandle, and a Vezina candidate in Ilya Bryzgalov, but we all know about the wings. Nicklas Lidstrom, Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsuyk, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom… and that’s just naming a few. Will the Coyotes finally break out, or are the Wings just too good – yet again – to be beaten?
Consensus: Detroit Red Wings in 7
Kip’s Pik: Phoenix Coyotes
Genius or Madness: Patrick Storto, Wings in 4.
Previous Meetings: 4-3 series win for Detroit in 2010, two prior Detroit wins when the Coyotes were the Jets.
- Déjà Vu, or Welcome Revenge? by Czechtacular
Detroit: F – Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom; D – Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski; G – Jimmy Howard
Phoenix: F – Shane Doan, Ryan Whitney, Radim Vrbata; D – Keith Yandle; G – Ilya Bryzgalov
Detroit: Chris Osgood (groin, indefinitely), Niklas Kronwall (upper body, questionable), Henrik Zetterberg (lower body, doubtful)
Phoenix: Kurt Sauer (concussion, indefinitely)
Prax’s Take: This one’s a tough one to pick. Both teams are strong, know each other well, and are perennially motivated – probably for very different reasons. The Coyotes have several players who could make a case for various NHL awards, and are probably looking for revenge against the Wings, but in the end, even if Kronwall and Zetterberg miss the entire series, the Wings are too deep, too good, and too easy of a choice to win the series. Wings in 6.
Around The Checking Line:
Lowell Williamson: Detroit has looked shaky at times and their goaltending won’t take them past the second round. However, they will take care of the Coyotes (who haven’t won a series since they left Winterpeg) in what will be their last playoff in the desert. Wings in 6.
Patrick Storto: Phoenix has the edge in goal, but we've seen time and time again that the Wings are a different team come playoff time. I think the experience and skill of the Red Wings will wipe the floor clean with the Coyotes. Only thing that could hold the Wings back is Jimmy Howard, otherwise I expect a sweep. Wings in 4
Steph Darwish: My heart goes out to the Coyotes. They had another good season – unfortunately they are again meeting the Wings in the first round. Nobody beats the Wings in the first round. Their experience alone doesn't allow it. With that said, I don't think this will be an easy series for the Wings. Wings in 7.
Shahab Khan: The Coyotes veteran leadership and skating ability is the reason this series goes 6, but ultimately they don't have anyone that can stop Zetterberg (if healthy) and Datsyuk. And as we all know someone from the 3rd or 4th line always steps up in the playoffs for the Red Wings. The only question will be who is in nets for the Wings but it won't make a difference in round 1. Round 2 is another story. Wings in 6.
Scott Lowe : The Red Wings, particularly without Zetterberg, are not the daunting offensive machine of years gone by. The wings are still solid defensively with Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall and Brad Stuart, but goaltender Jimmy Howard (2.79, .908) is no match for Phoneix’ Ilya Bryzgalov. The Coyotes are not an explosive offensive team, led by veteran Shane Doan’s 60 points and Norris-candidate Keith Yandle’s 59, but they are balanced and play a solid defensive game. This series should be low scoring. Coyotes in 7.
Adam Reid: A repeat of last year with Phoenix moving on this time. Phoenix will play some of the best hockey in their franchise history. They will push the Red Wings, and will find ways to get under their skin. Howard will get hurt, MacDonald will falter, while Bryzgalov will lead his team past the Wings. Coyotes in 7.
(4) ANAHEIM DUCKS vs. (5) NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Arguably the most underrated series of the playoffs, the great defense and goaltending of the Predators will look to stifle the stacked offense of the Ducks. The Ducks have a Hart candidate and the winner of the Maurice Richard trophy among their ranks, while the Preds have a Norris and a Vezina candidate. Both teams have plenty of players who could step up and surprise anyone, making this series relatively unpredictable. Who will prevail?
Consensus: Anaheim Ducks in 7.
Kip’s Pik: Anaheim Ducks
Previous Meetings: None
Anaheim: F – Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf; D – Lubomir Visnovsky, Cam Fowler; G – Dan Ellis?
Nashville: F – Mike Fisher, Martin Erat, Patric Hornqvist; D – Shea Weber, Ryan Ellis; G – Pekka Rinne
Anaheim: Jonas Hiller (vertigo, doubtful), Ray Emery (lower body, day-to-day)
Nashville: Matthew Lombardi (concussion, done), Francis Bouillon (concussion, indefinitely), Marcel Goc (shoulder, done).
Prax’s Take: This might be the most intriguing series of the playoffs. Neither the Ducks or the Preds are a “complete” team. The Ducks have big question marks in goal, and little to be excited about on defense, and the Preds, despite finding ways to win every year, have little to no offense. And for once, offense will be the difference in a series. With Maurice Richard winner Corey Perry, and World Class players such as Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu, the Ducks are just too much for Weber and Rinne to handle. Ducks in 5.
Around The Checking Line:
Adam Reid: Anaheim will blow Nashville away, there is no positive outlook for Nashville at all. The ducks will dominate, they will score a lot of goals, and either Emery or Hiller will outduel Rinne. Ducks obliterate the Predators as Nashville cannot compete with the talent which Anaheim has up front. Everybody will wonder who the 5th seed even was. Ducks in 5.
Owen Durkin: This one will go to the wire, with Rinne leading the Preds past Anaheim. I just don't like the Ducks' question marks between the pipes. Low scoring games, due to the Preds lack of offensive weapons, and Rinne putting on a clinic. My upset in the West. Preds in 7.
Alicia Sprenkle: The Ducks have been incredible down the stretch. Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne have been the talk of the league. Many people are gong with the Ducks in this series, but it's hard to bet against Nashville with Rinne in goal. The Preds have quietly had a great season. It's going to be a tight series, but I think Nashville will pull through in 7 games. Preds in 7.
Shahab Khan: This will be the closest series of round 1, and Pekka Rinne will be the only reason. Barry Trotz style of trying to bottle up the whole ice surface will work but ultimately the Preds don't have anyone that can stop Perry, Selanne, Getzlaf and Ryan. The tandem of Weber and Suter will play heavy minutes but in the end Ducks will get by at home. Ducks in 7.
Steve Palumbo: I love the way Anaheim is playing right now. It just feels like something "special" is going to happen for them this post season. Plus Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry are missions of their own. Ducks in 6.
Jordan Kuhns: The Ducks are way hot, but they are top heavy. If Nashville's top defenders can stop Ryan/Getzlaf/Perry/Selanne, then the Preds can use their scoring touch to win. Rinne has been remarkable lately, and he is clearly the better goaltender over Dan Ellis who is projected to be the starter for the Ducks with Emery's hip condition flaring up. The key to this series will be secondary scoring, and for the Predators, that starts with Mike Fisher. He has been definitely below average for the Preds with just five goals and twelve points in 27 games. Preds in 6.
Adam Pardes: This series could easily go the distance. Sure, Pekka Rinne's had a great season. Unfortunately for Nashville, so has Richard Trophy winner Corey Perry. With a healthy Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks will simply outmuscle and outscore the Preds. Look for Teemu Selanne to show why he's still the man in Anaheim. Ducks in 7.