Wednesday, April 13, 2011
You never know what is going to happen but I do think that this year's Cup champion will be from the West. Again. Indeed if it were not for the Wings being severely hobbled two years back (Lidstrom, Hossa, Datsyuk) we'd be looking at four straight years of western champions coming into this spring. I think we'll see the same again this year. The best team and perhaps the best three teams reside out that way.
Vancouver v Chicago
Chicago is dangerous and they are probably the best team outside of the top three in the west. Certainly not the ideal opponent for Vancouver, especially in the first round where often giants fall. Could Chicago win? Absolutely but I don't think its very likely. Besides the fact that their depth took a hit last summer, Dave Bolland is hurt and Duncan Keith never really seems to have found his game this season. He's still good but he has not been great.
This may actually be a boon to the Canucks. They will not take the Hawks lightly at all nor should they. Chicago has throw two superior lines out there, one with Toews and Hossa that can basically take it to anybody in the league, one with Sharp and Kane to kill the soft. Their top four is quality and Crawford is quite good.
But ... after those top four forwards are a bunch of kids who have not been able to find their way this season. The Hawks have been inconsistent from day one. And the Canucks are the best team in the league. By a lot. Best in goals for and goals against. Excellent special teams. Deep at every position.
I think the Canucks have a battle on their hands but superior depth nearly always wins out. Canucks in six.
San Jose v LA
The Kings were everyone's darling before the season began but they never really seemed to hit their stride. The biggest reason is it seems that Drew Doughty had an average season after being absolutely terrific last year. Without that dominant guy on the back end the Kings never really got it going. They picked up Dustin Penner at the deadline and he has done very little and of course the injuries to Williams and Kopitar have really hurt them. In fact its killed them. They're dangerous (everyone is dangerous) but they are having an awful time scoring goals and that will probably do them in. At which point Terry Murray will probably get canned.
San Jose has kind of snuck under the radar this season. They had a slow start but they turned it around and as usual they are a favourite and maybe one of these years they will get somewhere. Deep up front, not so much on the blue. They have enough to beat the Kings but not sure what follows for them.
Sharks in 6, just because they never get out of the first round without a fight.
Wings v Coyotes
The Wings are the Wings and the Yotes are the Yotes and while Detroit is going to need Henrik Z. if they plan on another Finals' appearance, Pavel Datsyuk is probably the best player in the league and this club is, again, deep everywhere except for in net where there may be an issue. Phoenix is a good solid club but I don't think a good solid club beats the Wings. Lidstrom is only going to be around for a while longer. Detroit is going to be ready and they're going to win a tough slog.
Wings in 6.
Ducks v Nashville
Somehow Anaheim went from being on the bubble to having home ice advantage. Crazy race this year.
Nashville always makes the playoffs and they always lose the first round. Last year they had it made, on a PP with seconds to go against Chicago and then Kane tied it up and then Hossa won it OT and they were down instead of up and that was all for them.
This year though, is their year. I think they may be a better club than the Ducks anyhow but Anaheim's netminding is a mess and I don't think Dan Ellis has what it takes to win a round.
Preds in 6.
Posted by Black Dog at 12:15 PM