2008 Western Conference Playoff First Round Preview
Finally, playoff hockey is here. Months of anticipation will soon be eased, the finest of beers will be drunk, and the jersey of your favorite team will be worn. Starting Wednesday, April. 9th, the beginning of a seven to eight week devotion to a television, arena or sports bar embarks on all fans.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will provide incredible hockey filled with action and emotion. The favorites are obvious and the upsets are coming.
Here is the Western Conference match-ups and predictions.
#1 Detroit vs. # 8 Nashville
The Detroit Red Wings finished the season in top of the entire league, earning them the Presidents Trophy. Hosting the Nashville Predators in the first round, the Wings should obviously win this series. The Preds finished 24 points below their opponents and lost five of the eight regular season games to the Wings. On the other hand, the Predators also kept five of the eight games to a one goal differential.
Detroit is better in every category and the Red Wings are more experienced in every category. Fans always love and look for extreme upsets. Save your money on this one, it is the wrong series for that to happen. Also, leave the brooms at home, there will be no sweep.
Detroit wins in five.
#2 San Jose vs. #7 Calgary
How many of us have taken the San Jose Sharks to win the cup in the last five years? I am guilty. Every year I pick the Sharks, they let me down. Here I am again thinking the Sharks may have a chance at the cup, until I heard their opponent. The Calgary Flames.
The Flames are the hardest working team in the league and under Coach Keenan, they are a legitimate threat. They have also been a “Cinderella” story of the past when they went to the finals in 03-04 season. Calgary has also won three of the four games between the two teams this season, including two in overtime. On top of that, they have held Joe Thornton to only one assist in those four games.
San Jose has been one of the best teams over the past few months and is not supposed to lose this series. The Sharks have so much potential this year, but Calgary does know how to beat them. Perfect recipe for my upset.
Calgary wins in seven.
#3 Minnesota vs. #6 Colorado
Do not let the “3” vs. “6” fool you in this battle of Northwest Divisional teams. The Avalanche finished only three points behind Minnesota in the regular season. Peter Forsberg returns to the playoffs with Colorado and his health may decide the amount of time his Avalanche last. Minnesota is a feisty team that can score goals at will with their explosive talent.
The Avalanche own the second worst power-play in the NHL while the Wild have the second best penalty-kill unit. Minnesota will play a very aggressive style of hockey and finish their checks with no fear of a taking a bad, costly penalty.
Minnesota has incredible speed and size, but Colorado has a great mix of young and old players.
Colorado wins in six.
#4 Anaheim vs. #5 Dallas
Dallas won the season series. Big deal. Dallas did pick up former Conn Smythe winner in Brad Richards during the trade deadline. Big deal. Dallas does have the best penalty-kill team in the NHL. Big deal. Dallas has a goalie that has not won a series in three straight playoffs. Now this is a big deal.
You need to bring it all to beat the Ducks in a seven game series as this team does not mess around in the playoffs. These are the defending champs and they know what it takes to win games. Anaheim has an incredible roster and George Parros has an incredible moustache.
Dallas will win one, maybe two games, depending on Turco’s nerves. Flying with the Ducks is a wise choice.
Anaheim wins in six.
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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