Play-Off Predictions: West

Home of the Stanley Cup winners for the past three years, the Western Conference remains loaded with talent and potential champions.

Can one of the Central Division juggernauts go all the way? Or will the Cup find its way to a new hockey hot spot?

Yesterday One Puck Short revealed its’ predictions for the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals – today it’s the turn of the West:

Anaheim Ducks (1) vs Winnipeg Jets (8)

Play-off hockey returns to Winnipeg for the first time since 1996, and the MTS Centre crowd is expected to be at it’s very best when Anaheim comes to town on Monday. But while the Jets fan base is sure to come up trumps, Paul Maurice’ side has their work cut out on the ice.

Anaheim were hit harder than anyone by the mumps outbreak that sprouted earlier in the season, but the Ducks still won their third straight Divisional title and led the West with 109 points.

Adding Ryan Kesler during the off season, and James Wisniewski at the trade deadline, bolsters a side that only narrowly lost out to LA in last year’s Conference semi final; and while Winnipeg have their share of workhorses, the Ducks own stalwarts tend to find an extra level come play-off time.

Maurice may be the more tactically astute Coach, and Pavelec the in form netminder; but Frederik Andersen is no mug and Bruce Boudreau has a strong enough arsenal at his disposal to down the Jets.

Prediction: Ducks in 5

St Louis Blues (2) vs Minnesota Wild (7)

Devan Dubnyk’s arrival took Minnesota from underachievers to Cup contenders – giving a talent laden roster a timely boost between the pipes upon his arrival in January.

Mike Yeo’s side has top end talent, good depth and a plethora of options when it comes to tackling the Blues – unfortunately St Louis are just that little bit better.

The Missouri outfit has arguably the best defensive unit of any team in the play-offs, three formidable scoring lines and – whether they go with the mercurial Jake Allen or ‘steady Elly’ Brian Elliott – solid enough goaltending to compliment the juggernaut in front.

The Blues look set to go deep this year – and are One Puck Short’s pick to win the Stanley Cup.

Prediction: Blues in 7

Nashville Predators (3) vs Chicago Blackhawks (6)

Strengthened by a significant upgrade at forward and a healthy Pekka Rinne, Nashville made a triumphant return to the post season under new Head Coach Pete Laviolette. Their reward? A first round clash with perennial contenders Chicago, who are set to welcome Patrick Kane back to the fold just in time for game 1.

The Predators defence is the only one that comes close to the Blues in terms of strength in depth, and Pekka Rinne might have won the Vezina were it not for Carey Price’s amazing season.

It gives the Predators a fighting chance against one of the NHL’s best; but with Kane back, Chicago are essentially at full strength and have designs on a second Cup in three years (and a third in five).

Prediction: Blackhawks in 6

Vancouver Canucks (4) vs Calgary Flames (5)

The upstarts vs the old guard.

No one expected Calgary to be a play-off team this year, though few predicted Vancouver would finish second in the Pacific either; and the match up of a young, high energy Flames side against the Canucks seasoned campaigners make this an intriguing series.

Hiller and Miller are top tier veteran goaltenders, while the Sedins unrivalled chemistry mixes it up with spark plugs like Johnny Gaudreau.

There’s a lot to love about this contest; and while Vancouver could do well if they can get past Bob Hartley’s side, the energy and momentum Calgary brings with it into the post season might just be enough to carry them through.

Prediction: Flames in 6

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on April 14, 2015, in 2015 Stanley Cup Play-Offs, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Hockey, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, NHL, St Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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