If The NHL Playoffs Started Today

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Western Conference:

Mar 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Cody McLeod (55) fights with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank (17) in the first period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Coyotes (W2) vs St. Louis Blues (C1)

If there is one team that became even more dangerous at the NHL trade deadline, it is the St. Louis Blues. Their main question going into the playoffs was goaltending, and Ryan Miller clears that up. St. Louis remains the favorite to win the President’s Trophy, but they do have a few teams chasing them in the standings. The Phoenix Coyotes need the playoffs, not only competition wise, but financially.

The Coyotes and the Blues have met three times this season. Phoenix won the first match up back on November 12th, 3-2 in overtime. The Blues won 2-1 back in January and most recently, 4-2 on March 2nd.

Prediction: Phoenix would be a nice underdog story, but I don’t see how they could stop the St. Louis Blues. I think this will be a quick one and St. Louis will walk away with an easy four game sweep.

Chicago Blackhawks (C3) vs Colorado Avalanche (C2)

The way the Colorado Avalanche have turned things around this season has been remarkable. They go from lottery pick to playoff contender in one offseason. I think it is becoming clear that last season was a fluke and the Avalanche are back. The Chicago Blackhawks are back in the mix, and that is not surprising to anyone.

The Blackhawks and the Avalanche have played five times this season, so we have a nice sample size to work with. Colorado started things off with a big 5-1 win back on November 19th. Chicago struck back with a 7-2 win on December 27th. Colorado won in overtime 3-2 on January 14th and 4-2 on March 4th. Colorado also won the most recent match up, 3-2 on March 12th.

Prediction: Both of these teams have played strong this season and Colorado has won four of the five match ups with Chicago. However, they are still the Chicago Blackhawks. They know how to turn things on in the playoffs. This will be an evenly played series and will go the distance. I give it to Chicago in seven.

Minnesota Wild (W1) vs Anaheim Ducks (P1)

The Anaheim Ducks have hit a bit of a rut recently, but early on in the season they were the consensus pick to contend for the Cup. They remain in the race for the Presidents Trophy, but will have to make up a bit of ground on the St. Louis Blues. Minnesota is currently holding on to the first Wild Card spot in the West.

The Ducks and the Wild have met three times this season. Anaheim has won two of the match ups, 4-3 in OT and 2-1 back in December. Minnesota’s only win was a 4-2 victory back on January 28th.

Prediction: Minnesota has the ability to contend and Anaheim has hit a rough patch. However, I still think the Ducks will have the upper hand in this series and win it in five.

Los Angeles Kings (P3) vs San Jose Sharks (P2)

This is one of the match ups I hope remains in place over the next few weeks. A Kings / Sharks showdown would be really exciting, as both of these teams have played outstanding hockey. This appears to be the type of series that could go the distance and have you wishing they could keep playing (See: Kings vs Blues last year).

The Kings and Sharks have played four times so far this season. The Kings won the first meeting in OT 4-3 back on October 30th. San Jose struck back with a shootout win on November 27th. Los Angeles won again on December 19th, 4-1 and 1-0 on January 27th.

Prediction: The Kings have the upper hand in the series so far this season and the Sharks tend to hit a wall in the playoffs. However, San Jose has said they have turned over a new page and that this is the year things will go different (we’ve heard that before). In the end, I think the Sharks come up just short and the Kings win it in seven.

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