The Brothers SportsNak are back, this time with their predictions for the Western Conference. Check it out below, and if you haven’t seen the Eastern Conference edition yet, click here.
Adam: Hey Rossy, you ready to talk about the West?
Rossy: Sure. I mean, I have a final exam in 4 hours, but this is more important, right?
Adam: Hey, I’m with you there. Mom may not be, but that doesn’t seem to ever affect you anyway. Shall we get to it?
Rossy: Let’s start with the Central.
Adam: Yes, let’s.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators
Rossy: This is going to be the most exciting first round matchup this year.
Adam: I’m not so sure, but I agree it is going to be fun to watch.
Rossy: I mean, I love Nashville. Fillip Forsberg (thanks Martin Erat), James Neal, Ryan Johansen, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Pekka Rinne. If you list just the top 5 players on every team, I think Nashville is up there with the Chicago’s and Pittsburgh’s. They don’t have bad depth either, and they have a great coach as well. It’s actually really hard to find holes in the Preds.
Adam: Chicago has Toews, Kane, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook, Panarin, and a helluva coach in John Quenneville. That core has already won three Stanley Cups. This word is thrown around a little too much, but I think the Blackhawks are truly a dynasty. Nashville is not going to be the team that stops them, I’m sorry.
Rossy: I’ll actually agree with you about the dynasty. Three Cups in the past eight years is just ridiculous.
Adam: They are a seasoned team, but they also have some fresh legs providing support. I really like how TVR (Trevor van Riemsdyk) has solidified the back-end, and Oduya and Campbell are back for another run with the ‘Hawks.
Rossy: Chicago does a really good job spreading the wealth up front. They have the Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line that just absolutely destroys opponents, and then they have Toews and Hossa both anchoring different lines. For a Nashville team with only two true scoring lines, and not much else up front, the matchup battle goes to the Blackhawks.
Adam: Nashville gave Chicago a tough run in 2015, and are a good team, but I think Chicago wins in 6.
Rossy: Rinne, Forsberg, and Neal keep them in games, but ultimately, the Preds fall short. I think the Blackhawks win in 5, but three of the games go into overtime.
Adam: Those games already start late enough!
Rossy: Adam, it’s the playoffs. You can stay up an extra hour to watch history be made.
Adam: Fair point. On to the next one…
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
Rossy: Talk about entertaining playoff series…
Adam: Every game in this one could go into OT.
Rossy: These teams have a history in the playoffs, and they match up exceptionally well.
Adam: You have the flashy Blues, with Tarasenko and Pietrangelo, and then you have the gritty Wild with Parise, Koivu and Suter.
Rossy: I think it comes down to depth, like most playoff matchups. The Wild have scoring and grit on all 4 lines, which will be tough for the Blues to handle. On the other hand, if the Blues can get Tarasenko away from Suter and Spurgeon, they may be able to expose the Wild’s weaker second and third pairings.
Adam: What I love most about this matchup is Mike Yeo, the head coach of the Blues, used to coach the Wild. He knows which matchups he can expose and which to avoid, and all the little things from being around the team for a few years.
Rossy: Yeah, that could be a huge advantage for the Blues. St. Louis also just recently got Vladimir Sobotka back from the KHL, and he could play a key role in the playoff series. He’s been back and forth between the KHL and NHL a few times, but always adds a much needed element of grit, with a deft scoring touch, to the Blues.
Adam: You also can’t forget about Devin Dubnyk, the goalie for the Wild. Ever since his arrival in Minnesota, he’s been a different player; a yearly Vezina candidate.
Rossy: Ok, so we’ve laid it all out there. Who do you think wins?
Adam: I’ve got the Blues in 7. I really like their team, and I think Yeo will out-coach his replacement, Bruce Boudreau.
Rossy: Overtime, Game 7, Jason Pominville wins it with an ugly goal in front of the net. Goaltending will be the difference in this series, and I give the edge to Dubnyk over Jake Allen. Now on to the Pacific.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
Adam: I know you have a really strong opinion on this one, so I’ll let you talk.
Rossy: I have a strong opinion on everything.
Adam: Nonetheless, take the lead.
Rossy: Ok. I have Anaheim in 5 for this one.
Adam: Wow, the chokers don’t choke?
Rossy: Don’t interrupt me. And no, the chokers don’t choke. I think it’s unfair to call the Ducks chokers. Sure, they could have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015, when they lost against the Blackhawks after having two chances to end the series. Sure, they lost to an inferior Nashville team last year. Sure, Getzlaf and Perry aren’t the stars they once were, and have a history of underperforming in the Playoffs.
Adam: Sounds like you’re describing a choker.
Rossy: What did I say about interrupting me? I wasn’t finished – there’s always a “but”. BUT, this year is the year that the Ducks are going to overcome the “choker” reputation. First of all, they have better goaltending with John Gibson – and yes, he is better than Anderson was last year. They also have evened out their lines under Randy Carlyle. He separated Getzlaf and Perry in order for them to be a more complete team.
Adam: Seems like everyone is following the Penguins’ strategy from last year of creating matchup problems.
Rossy: Yeah, well everyone always imitates the champs. Anyways, in addition to the “big 3” of Perry, Getzlaf, and Kesler, they also have two 30-goal scorers in Patrick Eaves and Rickard Rakell, who both play with Getzlaf.
Adam: I get it. What your saying is that the Ducks have a lot more secondary scoring than before.
Rossy: Yeah, and they have their always fearsome defence, which goes 6-deep with young, energetic, puck-moving defencemen.
Adam: Okay, but how about the Flames? They also go four lines deep. Monahan, Johnny Hockey, Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, etc. And then on defence, they have Giordano, Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, and deadline acquisition Mark Stone, who has really stabilized the back-end. The Flames are fast, they are skilled, and they are a ton of fun to watch.
Rossy: It all comes back to the goaltending for me. I just don’t think you can win a playoff series with Brian Elliott in net. He has a 15-19-3 record in the playoffs with a .911 Sv% – just plain not good enough.
Adam: Still, I think the Ducks choke and the Flames win in 7.
Rossy: We’ll agree to disagree.
Adam: Fine. Let’s move on.
Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks
Adam: I know the Sharks are more experienced and probably a better team, but man has it been fun in Oil Country this season.
Rossy: McJesus, Drasaitl and crew have really been lighting the lamp this season, with the third-most goals in the Western Conference.
Adam: And don’t forget about how huge home-ice advantage is for the Oilers. Rogers Place has been rocking all season long, and San Jose struggles on the road.
Rossy: That’s true. I still don’t see how a team carried by McDavid, Drasaitl and Cam Talbot can upset the Sharks though. I just don’t think they’re deep enough.
Adam: Yeah, the Sharks are a tough matchup for the Oilers’ first playoff series since the 2005-06 Cup Finals run.
Rossy: The Sharks are a team full of established veterans, and they have loads of experience after making it all the way to the Cup Finals last summer. Martin Jones is solid in net for the Sharks, the back-end is deep and talented, and the forward group is aging – but as they near the end of their careers, they find themselves still without a Cup. I think that motivation for a ring will give them a second wind.
Adam: So, who do you have in this one? I have the Oilers in 6. Gotta ride that wave.
Rossy: Oh, how I wish I could agree with you and ride the hype-train that is the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately, I think the Sharks win in 6.
Adam: Well, that’s it. We made it through both conferences.
Rossy: Let’s just hope the matchups live up to the hype.
Adam: Oh they will.
Rossy: Playoff hockey is the best playoffs of any sport. The intensity, the entertainment – every part of every game has the audience on the edge of their seat.
Adam: Let’s get it started then! The NHL Playoffs kick off tonight. So sit back, relax, grab your favourite beer, and watch the magic unfold.
Disagree with any of the picks or anything that Adam or Rossy said? Comment your thoughts below!
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