Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The West is an odd one this year. If Daniel Sedin is healthy and you believe in the Canucks, which I do, then I think we're looking at them and then the rest. But if you don't believe in them, if Sedin is out for any length of time, if they fall short for whatever reason then it really is an absolute free for all with nine points separating Nashville and the Kings, fourteen between the Blues and LA.
1)Vancouver v 8)Los Angeles
The Kings went on a good run after Sutter came on board and the Carter trade was a fine one but they haven't the depth of the Canucks at all. Will they be a tough out and take their pound of flesh? Probably. They have some size and some skill and Quick is quality but they are top heavy up front and thin on the wings. If Carter is healthy and Stoll and Penner can contribute offensively then things might be tight but Vancouver is too good a team to fall here. Canucks in 6
2)St. Louis v 7)San Jose
Are the Blues for real? Damned of I know. I don't know if I've seen them play all year. Hard to argue with results or with Ken Hitchcock though. Balanced scoring but no gamebreakers. Great GD mostly on the back of an absolutely unbelievable GA total of 165. Only three other teams even under 200. I am leery about teams like this because while they play a tight checking closed down style which is successful I think come playoffs suddenly everyone plays this style, well nearly everyone, and these guys, like LA, can stop other teams but they don't score a ton. Without that game breaker and with little margin for error, I think they aren't going all the way. But I do think they get by San Jose whose window is closing a la Ottawa, another very good team that never did win it all. The Sharks can score, or at least the top of the lineup can, but the secondary scoring is iffy, so is the goaltending, and they seem to be a team that often gets shut down in the post season. A recipe for a Blues series win in 6. Maybe even less.
3)Phoenix v 6)Chicago
Chicago is my darkhorse pick if (and this is a big if) they get goaltending and a little more team defence. They're a better team than Phoenix, even with the odd slump they hit this season, and it sounds like Toews is going to be able to play. Phoenix reminds me of the Blues, although they do have Whitney and Vrbata; they don't score a ton, they play that grinding style, they have little room for error. The Hawks are more high risk/high reward, their GD is basically the same as Phoenix but both GF and GA are way higher. I think they tighten it up and with their firepower they take the Coyotes down. Won't be easy and the Hawks are still waiting for their next wave of kids to get back to where they were a couple of years back but they have enough to move on here. Too many stars. And real stars. Hossa and Toews are two of the best. Six games.
4)Nashville v 5)Detroit
So little to choose from between these two teams. The Wings are starting to fade, with their 102 points and +45 GD in the league's toughest (ok second toughest)division. lol. But they do not intimidate like they once did and the end is coming I think, though it may be a few years away. Nashville impresses a lot of people with that goaltending and Weber and Suter and a deep and balanced lineup. Hard to bet against Datsyuk and Lidstrom but I think Nashville does take this in 7.
Posted by Black Dog at 12:30 PM