Round 1 Western Conference Playoffs Wrap Up
The last two remaining series in the Western Conference came to a conclusion on Monday evening, which means the match ups are set for the second round. Here's a recap of Monday's games and a preview of the second round matches as the march to the Cup continues.
The Chicago Blackhawks put away the Calgary Flames despite being outplayed throughout the game. The Flames put up 44 shots to just 16 for the Blackhawks, but at the end of the night the score was 4-1 in favor of Chicago, thanks to great work in net from Nikolai Khabibulin. Chicago jumped to an early lead on a power play goal from Patrick Kane just two minutes into the first. Adam Burish added a goal midway through the first and Brian Campbell added a power play tally at the end of the second period. With a 3-0 lead, things were bleak for the Flames. Todd Bertuzzi added a quick goal a minute into the third, but Khabibulin wouldn't let anything else past. The Blackhawks added to the final score with an empty netter.
The Anaheim Ducks finished their upset of the San Jose Sharks on Monday night, winning at home 4-1. San Jose actually got on the board first on a power play goal by Milan Michalek midway into the opening stanza. After that though, the Ducks gained control of the game. Corey Perry of the Ducks answered two minutes later on an Anaheim power play and the Ducks scored twice in a 90 second span in the middle of the second to open a 3-1 lead. With three minutes left in the game, the Ducks sealed the deal with a Ryan Getzlaf goal to earn their 4-1 margin. Another bitter disappointment for the San Jose Sharks.
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Second Round Western Conference NHL Playoffs Preview
Anaheim Ducks vs. Detroit Red Wings
The Ducks knocked off the number one seed and as their reward they get to face the number 2 seeded Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings had question marks heading into the postseason but put forth a dominating performance that put the rest of the league on notice that as defending champions, they should be favored to win it all again this season. Scott Neidermayer and Chris Pronger get a ton of ice time of the Ducks, and they will need to find a way to stymie the Red Wings top scorers if Anaheim is to win.
Detroit needs to do what they do best, play great hockey when it counts and breakdown opponents with their depth, cohesion and skill. The Ducks will quickly find out that they aren't playing the perennially hapless Sharks in this match up, as the Red Wings will win in six.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Can the energetic young stars of the Chicago Blackhawks lead the team to victory against a well rested Canucks team? While Chicago came away with a hard fought series win over the Flames, they were outplayed even in some of their victories. Stellar net minder Nikolai Khabibulin made the difference. This time they will be facing another goaltender at the top of his game, the Canucks Roberto Luongo.
Chicago does have superior skill players and will be facing a less physical challenge than the Flames presented. However, behind the steady Luongo Vancouver will be more capable of taking advantage of limited opportunities in a low scoring series. The only thing that could sway the outcome is if the Canucks can't get into their rhythm after an extended break. Still, the Canucks will win in six.
By Jake Emen
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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