Rabu, 11 April 2012

2012 Playoffs Preview: Western Conference

Hey ladies, we're cutting it down to the wire here but things in real life have been a little crazy.

The Eastern Conference is fun but sometimes the Western Conference just scares the living daylights outta us. They're tough, they're high-flying and did we mention murderous because we wouldn't want to meet most of the bluelines in the Western Conference in a back alley.

Unless it's Shea Weber and then we would totally let it happen.

Anyway, onto the previews before this playoffs season starts.


#1 Vancouver Canucks / #8 Los Angeles Kings

Hasn't this already happened? Two seasons ago we had to watch the Canucks run the train on the poor Kings and come out of that series relatively unscathed.

The Canucks are without Daniel Sedin who is still suffering from a concussion but that didn't stop them from clinching the President's Trophy. Even without him, they're still that good.

Sure there are questions about their goaltending but honestly, Roberto Luongo isn't that bad. He has his moments and yeah, he kinda crapped the bed when they needed him the most but you live and you learn. Hopefully for Canucks fans, he stays solid.

And the Kings. The poor Kings, who have been battling with the Sharks and the Coyotes for the third seed in the playoffs, just seemed to be outside looking in for most of the season. But here they are.

Defensively, the Kings are strong. Jonathan Quick is a fantastic and Vezina-worthy goaltender. But are they strong enough to stop the Canucks attack who just seem to throw a million pucks on net?

It's going to be a battle of wills between Quick and the Canucks forwards in this series.

Our Pick: Los Angeles Kings

Because: Yeah, sure this is more than likely going to blow up in our faces but we really like the Kings in this matchup because of their defense and their goaltending. And we just want to pick something different instead of the favorite.

#2 St. Louis Blues / #7 San Jose Sharks

This series has to be one of the hardest to decipher because it could literally go either way.

The Blues have been tops on the Western Conference for most of the season and barely lost the first seed to the Canucks. Still not bad for a team that was one of the worst until Ken Hitchcock came around.

All seems lost when they announced that Brian Elliott is out with an injury but we don't feel bad because they have one of the other best goaltenders in the league in Jaroslav Halak. Yeah, the Blues will be fine.

Now the Sharks. There is no other team that baffles us more sometimes. It's like they're good, we know they're good, but they just don't play like they can sometimes and waste their potential at times.

They have the offensive skills to beat St. Louis. And they have the experience but there always seems to be something missing in their game. Like the drive to win is not there. Or something.

Our Pick: St. Louis Blues

Because: We just think that they're ready and they're a better team than the Sharks. Sure the Sharks have the experience but sometimes that isn't enough. The Blues are ready to fuck shit up. We hope.

#3 Phoenix Coyotes / #6 Chicago Blackhawks

You should already know who we're rooting for in this series. We are throwing all conventional wisdom out the window at this one.

When we found out that the Coyotes were in the playoffs again, we were admittedly surprised. No one seemed to talk about the pretty good season that they were having. Like, we had no idea they were doing that well. But, like the Southeast in the Eastern Conference, they are also points behind the seed they are playing.

Still, that does not take from the pretty great season they have been having. Even without their supposed number one goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov, who was traded away for a bag of pucks and a pick. Mike Smith has been amazing down the stretch and one of the reasons that they hung onto the third seed.

How the Chicago Blackhawks even made the playoffs, we aren't even sure. Jonathan Toews was having a Hart-like season when he received a hit from Joe Thornton and has been suffering from a concussion. Without him, the Hawks are less dynamic and more pressure is on his linemates. But he should be coming back and we couldn't be happier.

The Hawks have the offense to win. But yet again, the question is goaltending. We can't even stand this question anymore. Corey Crawford is being seen as weak and not playoff ready. Uh, does anyone remember Antti Niemi? He had a comparable defense in front of him and still won the Cup. We have faith in Crawford.

Like the Sharks, the Hawks have the experience to get out of the first round. Unlike the Sharks, they have the drive to win because they know what it is to win and what it is to lose in the first round to Vancouver (people don't forget).

We think this is going to be a tough one and another one that we have no idea how it will turn out. But we will make our predictions.

Our Pick: Chicago Blackhawks

Because: We have to have faith in our second favorite captain and the team that we love in the West. They have the offense and the experience and the leadership and Toews. That's why.

#4 Nashville Predators / #5 Detroit Red Wings

This series reminds us of the Eastern Conference #4 and #5 matchup because it's two teams who are divisional rivals and are pretty evenly matched.

The Predators have home ice and that is a huge advantage. They have been pretty great at home and actually, they've just been pretty great. This is a team that is built to win and built to win in the West.

With the additions that their GM made in the trade deadline, you just knew they would be a contender. Paul Gaustad was acquired to go up against Ryan Kesler. Hal Gill is the shutdown man. Andrei Kostitsyn is scoring.

And then they got Alex Radulov. Really? Really? Whatever, it's not even fair at this point.

We didn't even talk about the defense. Best blueline around. They're built for the Stanley Cup Finals and if they don't get there, well, that won't be good at all.

The Red Wings are the perennial contenders. But there's something different this season. They just don't have the same fear factor like they did in other years. Maybe it was the losing streaks. Maybe it's the injuries. Something has taken the bite out of this team.

We would never count the Wings out. Ever. They're always dangerous and they're always in contention. But we just aren't feeling it this season.

Our Pick: Nashville Predators

Because: Well, like we said above, they're built to win. And Pekka Rinne is a stud. And they made it out of the first round last season and that isn't enough anymore. They want it and they want it bad.

Well, this is the Western Conference preview. Who do you think will win? What do you think will happen?

As always, let us know.

Happy Playoffs!

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