Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 NHL Playoffs Round I Western Conference

Moving right along...

Series E: San Jose Sharks (51-31; 113 points; 1st Pacific Division, 1st Western Conference, 2nd Overall) vs. Colorado Avalanche (43-39; 95 points; 2nd Northwest Division, 8th Western Conference, 12th Overall):

This is the series of teams with low expectations. At the start of the season, nobody expected Colorado to actually be in the playoffs. Many thought they would be eliminated from playoff contention by Christmas because they were going to be so young. And now with the playoffs starting, nobody expects San Jose Sharks to have much success in the playoffs. San Jose has something to prove not only to themselves but to the rest of the league with this playoff series than many expect them to sweep. Colorado faded down the stretch but held on to the 8th seed and have more points than four of the eight Eastern Conference Playoff teams. However, the playoffs are not really a place for youthful exuberance which has gotten Colorado to this point, especially against teams with as much playoff experience as San Jose. San Jose should roll right on through Colorado. San Jose in four.

Series F: Chicago Blackhawks (52-30; 112 points; 1st Central Division, 2nd Western Conference, 3rd Overall) vs. Nashville Predators (47-35; 100 points; 3rd Central Division, 7th Western Conference, 10th Overall):

It gets repeated over and over that goaltending is key in any playoff series. And in this series Nashville has it and Chicago doesn’t. So Nashville should be favored and win this series easily despite being the 7th seed, but it often isn’t that simple. Chicago is much more potent on offense than Nashville. Predators General Manager David "Bud" Poile has never been one to build a solid offensive unit for his hockey teams. This series is not exactly like the New Jersey-Philadelphia matchup, mostly because the Chicago roster is not stocked up with goons, but very close to it. Chicago has the offensive ability to wear out the Nashville defensemen and goaltending. Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi just needs to not lose the series for his team. Chicago in seven.

Series G: Vancouver Canucks (49-23: 103 points; 1st Northwest Division, 3rd Western Conference, 6th Overall) vs. Los Angeles Kings (46-36; 101 points; 3rd Pacific Division, 6th Western Conference, 9th Overall):

Ok folks, we're not going to waste any time and just get it out of the way up front,Wiskey Tango Foxtrot is the deal with Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo? He won the Olympic Gold Medal for Canada and answered some questions about himself, but since then he has raised some others. Most notably, why did he excel on the international stage but continues to struggle on the NHL stage? The L.A. Kings haven’t been in the playoffs in awhile but does have some players with plenty of playoff experience on their roster. However there are too many key players for the Kings who do not have any playoff experience and experience is as key to a long playoff run as goaltending. Vancouver however is very banged up on their blueline right now and that puts the spotlight back onto Luongo. Can he hold everything down or play at least as well as he did during the Olympics? We’re not very comfortable with this but we’re going with the more experienced team here. Vancouver in seven.

Series H: Phoenix Coyotes (50-32; 107 points; 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference, 4th Overall) vs. Detroit Red Wings (44-38; 102 points; 2nd Central Division, 5th Western Conference, 7th Overall):

In another "no-duh" moment; the Phoenix Coyotes are the story of the year in the NHL, so we won't bother to rehash it here. Because of their status, many pundits think it is too bad that they get Detroit in the first round. However, this season, we clearly saw that Detroit has gotten old, and not in a good way, despite letting Chris Chelios go. A lot of hockey has been played by Detroit players over the past three years and this season with the Olympics. Some of the Red Wings have been injured for most of the season and, believe it or not, that does take its toll on a player come playoff time They aren't rested as much as they are rusted. Phoenix though hasn’t won a playoff series since moving to the desert in 1996. Both teams have good goaltenders though Jimmy Howard for Detroit is completely untested in the playoffs and Ilya Bryzgalov hasn't played in a playoff game since 2007. Phoenix also led the league in gimmick wins and thankfully, there are no gimmicks in the playoffs. Like everybody else, we think the great story for Phoenix will come to an end, but not without a fight. Detroit in seven.

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