Every year we like to randomly predict the NHL Playoffs with the current standings in the 2012 NHL season. Sure teams are starting to pick up the slack and finally starting to get into playoff contention, but to make this article more interesting we are going to start it a bit early this season.
Here’s our 2013 Playoff breakdown for the Western Conference hope you enjoy it. Also be sure to take the poll down below (Who do you think advances to the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals?) And please be sure to comment below. All comments and opinions are welcomed!
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTER FINALS
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs (8) Dallas Stars
Right now this one looks like a slam dunk for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks still haven’t lost in regulation while the Stars have had a Jekyll and Hyde season; beating Anaheim and Vancouver but losing to Columbus and Calgary twice. I think this match up will be tougher for Chicago than most people think; Dallas’ mix of savvy veterans, young talent, and game breaking goaltending could give the Blackhawks trouble. But Chicago’s offense is too powerful and Dallas’ defense is too inconsistent. Chicago in 6. I mean, unless Detroit who also has 17 points this season, takes Dallas spot.
(2) Anaheim Ducks vs (7) Phoenix Coyotes
This could be one of the best match ups in the playoffs if it actually happens. Bruce Boudreau and his high powered offense against Dave Tippett’s defensive system. Opposite sides of the spectrum. Who comes out on top? Last year Phoenix was firing on all cylinders and if they can repeat that effort they could do well; but Steve Sullivan isn’t Ray Whitney. Boudreau’s system has failed in the playoffs before but with overall more talented team than he had in Washington he could finally have the right team to get him deep in the playoffs. But defense wins championships, I think the Coyotes win this one in a dog fight, Coyotes in 7.
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs (6) San Jose Sharks
After coming out of the gate red hot the Sharks have cooled off and cooled off mightily in February. Whether or not they will be in the playoffs at the end of the season depends on whether they can turn there season around. The Sharks have the offensive and defensive talent to make that turn around and to make life tough on the Canucks if they meet in the Playoffs. But the Canucks are playing really well. Even without Ryan Kesler and David Booth they were still one of the top teams in the conference. And with both Luongo and Schneider playing well the Canucks are poised to make a pretty good run. Canucks in 5.
(4) Nashville Predators vs (5) St. Louis Blues
The 4/5 match up is usually the closest match up. Both Nashville’s and St. Louis’ seasons were cut short in the second round last year and both are looking to bounce back with a strong playoff run. St. Louis has been getting better, with both Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart improving and Vladimir Tarasenko having a break out rookie season. While Nashville has had a struggling offense and a struggling super star defenseman. But Pekka Rinne has been one of the best goalies in the league this year and a hot goalie can steal a playoff series. Still I think St. Louis takes this one, St. Louis in 6.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs (7) Phoenix Coyotes
Again, everybody is expecting Chicago to dominate this season, walk through the playoffs, and win the Stanley Cup. But things rarely turn out as everyone expects in the playoffs. The Coyotes are strong and a tough defense can shut down a high powered offense. Chicago is peaking early. To win the Cup you have to be peaking at the right time, get the right match ups, and be a little lucky. If these two teams meet in the playoffs Chicago’s luck will run out. Phoenix in 6.
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs (5) St. Louis Blues
St. Louis and Vancouver are both headed in the right direction. Both have great defense and strong goaltending. And while St. Louis’ offense is vastly superior to Nashville’s very few teams can match the offensive production of a healthy Vancouver Canucks team. Vancouver takes this one and takes it pretty easily. Vancouver in 5.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs (7) Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes are a very tough team to meet in the Playoffs. A tough defensive system and great goalie makes Phoenix a team built to succeed in the playoffs. But they still have a couple major problems. They don’t have enough offensive talent and enough offensive depth to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Canucks are basically the same the same team that went to the Cup two years ago. A team that’s built character from a loss in the Final and a loss in the first round last season. Vancouver is poised to get themselves back to the Stanley Cup Final. Vancouver in 6.
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