San Jose vs. Colorado
This series is a little similar to the 1-8 matchup in the East. One team was expected to be atop the conference, while one team wasn't really supposed to be in the playoffs. The youthful Avs have a bright future under head coach Joe Sacco, but the Sharks will make quick work of them this year.
Prediction: Sharks in Five
Chicago vs. Nashville
The Predators had 100 points during the regular season, but they wound up finishing seventh in the West. Very few hockey pundits, including myself, thought the Preds would make the playoffs this year, let alone collect 100 points. Meanwhile many pundits, including yours truly, picked the Blackhawks to be one of the top teams in the West. We all know that Chicago has goaltending concerns heading into the playoffs, but they have a talented defensive core and an underrated defense. The Hawks will win the series, but the Preds should make things interesting.
Prediction: Blackhawks in Six
Vancouver vs. Los Angeles
Well, I haven't picked an upset yet, but I guess its time to pick one now. The Kings have had Vancouver's number recently including an 8-3 win a few days ago. The Canucks have a good offense this year, but Roberto Luongo has struggled recently between the pipes. This will be a very entertaining series, one that will go down to the wire. But honestly, I have to stand by my bold prediction of the Kings going far in this year's playoffs. LA wins a very close series.
Prediction: Kings in Seven
Phoenix vs. Detroit
Raise your hand if you had the Phoenix Coyotes in the playoffs before the season? Ok that's what I thought.
The Desert Dogs have had a remarkable run with so much uncertainty on the future of the franchise last year with Jim Balsillie attempting to buy the team and move the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario. While the franchise's future isn't crystal clear yet on remaining in Phoenix, they can at least enjoy the playoffs for the time being. Meanwhile, the Red Wings started off slow during the 2009-10 regular season, but they are another team entering the playoffs on a hot streak.
Make no doubt, the Coyotes had a nice run during the regular season where they challenged the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division crown late in the year. Lee Stempniak and Wojtek Wolski have provided a boost to the offense and Shane Doan and Ed Jovanoski have provided the leadership role. In the end, though, the experience of the Red Wings is just too much. Pavel Datsuyk, Niklas Lidstrom and company move on to round two again.
Prediction: Wings in Six