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Monday, April 29, 2013

An Ice Life: Western Conference Playoff Preview

Wild on Sports
An Ice Life: Western Conference Playoff Preview
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

Western Conference playoff preview… I am going to miss the simplicity of saying Western and Eastern conference.

I go by the gut when it comes to analyzing these series. I was really spot on last year, getting the Stanley Cup Champion right and getting all but two of the first round series right. Of course, this is my first year blogging so you have to take or leave my word for it. I doubt I will get it as right this time around. It is college try time.

1 Chicago v 2 Minnesota
Well in the West we have the top seed going deservedly to the Chicago Blackhawks and they get the short travel of facing Minnesota. This is going to be fun to watch.

Chicago has better goaltending and a better top six, but not by that much. I would have to say that Toews and Hossa are the best two players in the series without a doubt. I believe that Minnesota has better role players but the depth is similar in quality. I have a hard time knowing who really is going to win this, but I have to believe it is Chicago. Now Minnesota won’t roll over, but they could lose in five or seven. If it goes to seven, the Wild could win it because it is closer than some would think. Just bet on Chicago.

2 Anaheim v 7 Detroit
This is going to be a fun series for me because of the rivalry between me and my cousin from Orange County. The Ducks are better than they have been and have a great shot at making it to the Finals, however they are a team whose identity is tied to making boneheaded penalties in the name of being a rough team. They minimalized it with depth that is better tied to skill than goon-ery.

Now Detroit played awful for most of the year, but they are playing super hot and had to win four straight to make the playoffs. They have the better goaltender and their top three players have been hot. If they can keep it up, I have to imagine they will beat the Ducks. The only reason Detroit is in the playoffs is that they won a huge two game series on the road at the pond earlier in the year. The ducks have the better defense, but DeKeyser could balance it out. The Wings have high level depth now so the longer the series goes, the more likely it is that they will win. It might be that I am a homer, but I totally think Detroit wins this in six.

3 Vancouver v 6 San Jose
This is the hardest series to call in the West. Both are just teams that strike you as having serious faults that you cannot put your finger on. I think San Jose has far more weapons at their disposal, but the Sedins are deadly. Goaltending is pretty close to equal here based on this season. This is a coin flip of a series. I just feel that San Jose is the better team here. Either way, I don’t see these teams going the distance. Vancouver would have to improve their defense and secondary scoring to go anywhere. I am going to pick San Jose in 7

4 St. Louis v 5 Los Angeles

This will be another great series. St Louis is a dangerous team that could awaken and take out anyone in a series, but they have to get their act together and get the type of goal tending that they had last year in order to go anywhere.

You can say the same for the Kings, as they have not been as strong as they were when they won the cup, even though they are a better team in most regards. I think Quick and company will wake up and play harder and be the toughest team to out. I have them in the Conference finals and have no reason to doubt they can win it all again. I expect them to beat the Blues in five.

My picks for the Western Conference finals initially will be Chicago and LA, with the Kings moving to the Finals for the second time in a row. I just think they are the best top to bottom with one great goaltender, who is getting better at the right time.


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