Rabu, 13 April 2011

2011 Play Off Preview & Predictions: West

After doing this post, we think we need to move out West. They have waaaaay more fun there. More teams almost made it to the eighth spot, there are more fights and there are way hotter players.

Plus, it doesn't snow that much West of Colorado, right? Our geography is a little iffy but that sounds right.

Anyway, now that the Western Conference settled down and is finally decided who will play who we can finally get down to the previews and predictions.

And like we said before, we are going back to the old way we would do the previews with who sucks and who doesn't, the player that will take them to the promised land or the S Factor as we like to call it.

And we are throwing in our predictions based on who we think should win. They may not be based in facts but we can still hope that the Hawks bring on the upset of the century.

Should be a blast in a glass.


#1 Vancouver Canucks / #8 Chicago Blackhawks

Vancouver, Vancouver, Vancouver, what will we do with you? It always seems to be your year, this is the year they will win the Cup and then the Blackhawks come out of nowhere and just F your shit up. Don't know why they have your number.

But this year seems different. They lead in six major categories including special teams which is a big deal in the play offs. Of course the loss of Manny Malholtra is gigantic but we think they can get over that. Their defense is enviable, seriously, we want them on the Penguins NOW. But shit happens so you never know...

X-Factor - the return of Mikael Samuelsson and Alex Edler

The return of these players is huge for the Canucks. Samuelsson will contribute in scoring and yes we can hear you Toews-ing us but seriously, when the play offs roll around this bitch will go all Craig Adams on your team. And Edler is one scary Frankenstein patrolling the blueline.

As everyone and their grandmother knows, the Hawks limped into the play offs as the eighth seed because Dallas decided to just shit the bed against Minnesota. But that doesn't mean they are not prepared for this. They won the Cup last season so yeah, they know what it takes.

But do they have it this season? That is the million dollar question every pundit in Chicago and Vancuver is asking themselves. They do not have Byfuglien to stand in front of Luongo every second he's on the ice. They are without Andrew Ladd to annoy the shit out of Kesler. And this hurts. It's gonna be interesting.

X-Factor - the return of Dave Bolland

He has been out of the lineup with a concussion since the Hawks/Lightning game in March when Pavel Kubina elbowed him in the head but is making steady progress to a return. This is amazing news for the Blackhawks because he is a main reason that none of the top players could perform against the Blackhawks last post-season.


Henrik: Canucks on the backs of the creepy ginger twins and their depth at defense

Noodles: Blackhawks and I don't care if they barely scraped into eighth, I am blind with love for my second team

LeTude: Blackhawks, they have the confidence to pull it off because they've done it before


#2 San Jose Sharks / #7 Los Angeles Kings

With all of the hoopla surrounding the Canucks, the Sharks rise to second place was barely mentioned. They have been playing pretty good hockey the past month or two so Sharks fans have hope.

But (and there's always a 'but') this story seems eerily familiar. Will they be swept by the Blackhawks in the Conference Finals again? Will they let the wheels fall off the wagon? Maybe this year is different, maybe this team is different.

X-Factor - Antti Niemi

If he plays like he did with Chicago and steals games for them then we think that the Sharks have a chance. He will be the deciding factor in the series because of the spotty offense the Kings have and if he shuts them down early then they're done for.

When Anze Kopitar broke his ankle, we saw the playoff hopes in Los Angeles fly out of the window. It's sad but true. The trade for Dustin Penner was a good one and if he can get back to Anaheim play off form then the Kings will have something going for them. But the loss of Kopitar could be too much.

One aspect of the Kings lineup that is hardly ever mentioned is their defense. We think that the Kings have a pretty solid defense core. They have Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson as the top four. That is not a top squad to laugh at. They could be the turning point for the Kings.

X-Factor - the return of Justin Williams

They said it is likely he will return for the play offs. With the loss of Kopitar for months, Williams' return will be huge. He should give a boost to the offense when it needs it the most.


Henrik: Sharks because the Kings just don't have it yet

Noodles: I was hoping for a first round match-up of Kings/Coyotes because neither team had been out of the first round in a while but no, they had to ruin it...Sharks because of Niemi

LeTude: Kings, Justin Williams is back and I cannot go against Jonny Quick


#3 Detroit Red Wings / #6 Phoenix Coyotes

Every year, it's Detroit. Every year we shake our heads at the machine that is the Red Wings. They are literally a machine when you watch them in the play offs. It's like they go into auto-pilot when mid-April comes around.

What we think this year though, are they too old? There is hardly any new blood on the team, it's most of the same guys and they're all old. Experience is what they have and it is what has served them through the years. They know the ebb and flow of a series. But how old is too old for a team?

X-Factor - Nick Lidstrom

He has to keep on being the 'perfect human' and that is the key to Detroit being Detroit. We don't even want to think about what Detroit would be like without his angelic face on the blueline.

If we were Coyotes fans, we would be pissed that we got Detroit, again. Last season's Game Seven was just a testament to the dominance of the Red Wings in the play offs. We would be saying our prayers to the hockey gods that's for sure.

We've said this before and we will say it again, this season just seems different. It feels like the Coyotes have a chance and we think they can beat the Red Wings this season. They are a surprise team this year and without 'star players' in the lineup (unless you count Keith Yandle), people forget about them.

X-Factor - Shane Doan

The Coyotes need their captain to be the mucker and grinder that he is to keep this team afloat. Without him, well, you saw last season's suckfest in Game Seven when he was injured.


Henrik: Coyotes because I just can't root for the Red Wings, sorry Perfect Human

Noodles: Coyotes, I want to believe

LeTude: Coyotes because they've been close the past two seasons and theoretically they shouldn't even be in the post-season with all of their troubles


#4 Anaheim Ducks / #5 Nashville Predators

We've said it before but we would not want to be anywhere near the Ducks this season after the last couple of months they have put together. Seriously, they are on a freaking roll right now and we would not want to be caught under their tires.

This roll can go one of two ways now that they are in the play offs. The Ducks can completely dominate the Western Conference and just take over until they're in the Finals or they can lose their momentum and then tucker out in the first round to Nashville. (We are betting on the former by the way.)

X-Factor - Teemu Selanne

We know that Weber/Suter will be all over the Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry line so the secondary scoring of Selanne will be needed. He has to continue his absolutely magical scoring pace (he's like 400 years old) and that will propel the Ducks into the second round.

Admittedly, we were unaware that the Predators were even in the play offs until like two weeks ago but that doesn't stop us from analyzing their future. The Predators play great team defense but without scoring, where can they go?

We are extremely curious to see how the Predators match up against the Ducks. It's going to be Weber/Suter against the Big Line every time they play and that will define how the series will go. We have faith in that blueline pairing because without Ryan Suter, Shea Weber is lost and together they make beautiful defensive music.

X-Factor - Ryan Suter and Shea Weber

They have to be flawless. They have to be dominate. We have faith that they will but faith only gets you to the puck drop. Without them, the Ducks would run roughshod over the entire team.


Henrik: Ducks because of Corey Perry and all of those post-baby hormones, he just has it this season

Noodles: Predators, and you should already know why

LeTude: Ducks, they're ridiculous right now with the Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry line and whichever goaltender is in, it won't matter


So that's it.

Good luck to everyone's favorite teams. Unless you're up against the Penguins, then

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