Western Conference First Round Playoff Preview

Today and tomorrow I am going to post my first round playoff previews/predictions. Here are the western conference preview and tomorrow I’ll post my eastern conference preview.

Detroit vs Edmonton

Season Series
November 3: Edmonton 4 at Detroit 3 (OT)
November 17: Detroit 5 at Edmonton 6 (OT)
March 18: Detroit 4 at Edmonton 3 (SO)
April 11: Edmonton 0 at Detroit 2

These two teams matched up fairly well during the regular season with both teams wining 2 games and 3 of the games going to overtime. If that sort of thing happens in the playoffs we are in for a dandy of a series despite being 1st seed vs 8th seed. The key to the series for Edmonton is getting quality goaltending from deadline pickup Dwayne Roloson. Edmonton has very solid defence and enough offence to compete with most teams so it will be up to Roloson not to give any games away. Detroit is such a well balanced team it is hard to pinpoint any one aspect that we should focus on as a key to success but having Zetterberg continue his scoring ways in his first playoff as a first liner will be important for them. Prediction: Detroit in 6

Dallas at Colorado

Season Series
October 8: Colorado 3 at Dallas 2
November 5: Dallas 3 at Colorado 2 (SO)
January 26: Dallas 3 at Colorado 2 (SO)
March 4: Colorado 3 at Dallas 5

Although the regular season series was fairly close, Dallas has to be considered the favourite in this match up. Colorado is in a similar position to Edmonton. Pretty good defence and enough scoring to match up with almost anyone but a question mark in goal. Colorado management decided that Aebischer was not the guy to take them to the promise land and took a gamble on the injured Jose Theodore. Now is the time when we find out if that gamble pays off. In his 5 games (4 starts) for Colorado late in the season Theodore was 1-2-1 with a 3.04 goals against average and a .887 save percentage. That probably won’t be good enough so he will have to pick up his game some if the Avalanche are to move on to the second round. The key to the will also be goaltending which might surprise some consider Marty Turco is in goal. Somehow Marty Turco managed to win 41 games despite having a mediocre .898 save %. In the back of my mind I am thinking he might suffer the Patrick Lalime syndrome in that he somehow manages to win a bunch of games in the regular season despite having average or below average save percentage but in the playoffs when the games get close and more hard fought isn’t quite up to task. I think how Turco plays is something we should watch for as the series goes on. Prediction: Dallas in 7

Calgary vs Anaheim

Season Series:
October 26: Calgary 1 at Anaheim 4
February 8: Anaheim 1 at Calgary 3
April 11: Anaheim 0 at Calgary 3
April 17: Calgary 3 at Anaheim 4

The season series is was a dead heat with both teams winning their home games and it wouldn’t surprise me if this was one of those series where home ice advantage is of great importance. The key for Calgary is getting some goal scoring from someone. Kipprusoff might be the best goalie in the world and Calgary’s defence is second to none but can they get any consistant goal scoring. Jarome Iginla let the team in goals and points but with just 67 points was among the lowest team leading point total in the NHL. The Iginla-Langkow line has to provide consistent offence in the playoffs or Calgary will struggle to win. The keys for Anaheim will be how the youngsters play. Andy MacDonald, Joffrey Lupul, Chris Kunitz, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry will all be depended on to various levels and how they play could go a long way to how well the Ducks do in the playoffs. Prediction: Flames in 6

Nashville at San Jose

Season Series
October 5: San Jose 2 at Nashville 3
October 22: San Jose 1 at Nashville 2
November 2: Nashville 2 at San Jose 3 (OT)
March 11: Nashville 2 at San Jose 3 (OT)

The season series was another home team wins all the games series and all the games were close. But with 3 of the games occurring very early in the season and before Thornton joined the Sharks we can’t really conclude much from the season series. With Vokoun out until next season the key to the playoffs for the Predators will be goalie Chris Mason who has played surprisingly well since taking over the #1 role. But he never really had to play a pressure packed game as the Predators were pretty much a lock for the 4th seed in the playoffs neither being able to catch the Red Wings nor likely to be caught by the rest of the playoff teams. Whether Mason can play under the pressure of the playoffs is what will have to wait and see about. The key for San Jose is simply just being able to continue what they have been doing the last month or so. You want to go into the playoffs playing good hockey, and the Sharks are definitely doing that, but you don’t want to be mentally worn out after having to play 6 weeks of important hockey. Prediction: Sharks in 5.

This article has 23 Comments

  1. It’s that wonderfull time of year. Don’t have the prices yet. But here are the series picks. Not too fond of having all favs. But these are the ones that I’m taking

    Carolina…..They have handled the Habs all year. They will get out of cruise control now.

    Dallas. Not sure about all the bashing of Turco. The guy is 41-18. Argue with that.

    Buffalo. This is more a wager against the Flyers than on Buffalo. Miller is going to have a short leash. Biron with another nice game tonight.

    Calgary. Kippy….Kippy….Kippy…..

  2. San Jose will roll.

    And i’m a Sens fan so I say Sens over Tampa in 6

    Detroit will beat Edmonton

    And The Devils and the Rangers will just kill each other.

    Buffalo is too fast for Philly

    And i agree with you on Carolina

  3. —Wings no problem IMO
    —Ducks and Flames = coin toss
    —Ottawa over defending champs (week goaltender will eliminate Senile(ators) shortly after IMO)
    —Devils-Rangers = goaltending duo
    —Flyers too big for Sabres (will simply wear them down)
    —Hurricanes do away with Habs (as I mentioned in Tuck’s thread, that blown loss by Montreal tonight was one they’ll regret as I think they were better suited to a matchup with the Senile(ators) IMO)
    —Preds-Sharks = toss up but I give the edge to Preds based on the home ice advantage
    —Dallas over Avs in 6 IMO

    (opinions could sway one way or another as week progresses and injuries become available)

  4. “that blown loss by Montreal tonight was one they’ll regret as I think they were better suited to a matchup with the Senile(ators)”

    Zack, the result of the Hab game had no effect on their matchup.

  5. Betting against the Flyers sounds nice but with a real position on Carolina have to bet against on Montreal and still hope they win.

  6. I didn’t take them. But I just can’t see the Preds hanging with the Sharks with Mason in goal. Although he’s got good numbers. Take a look at the teams he beat.

  7. Actually after doing some research I’m gonna lay off Carolina. Laugh all you want but the Habs have the best chance of pulling an upset.
    Carolina has not faced Huet as a starter so far, which renders that stat virtually irrelevant. (4-0)
    Carolina faced them 3 times when Theodore couldn’t stop a beachball, everybody was scoring 5 goals against him.

  8. David, are your predictions at the end of each analysis your personal picks or based on your algorithm? Anyway, here are my predictions:

    Detroit in 6
    Dallas in 7
    Anaheim in 6
    San Jose in 7

    Not really much I can say for Detroit and Edmonton. I take Detroit solely because of reputation. Look at the guys they have that can provide offense, such as Yzerman, Shanahan, and Zetterberg, not to mention they have Legace in goal. Edmonton has had goaltending issues all year. They have Roloson, who’s going to make his 2nd playoff appearences (2002-2003 w/ Minnesota), but I really think they are going to be outmatched for most of the series.

    Dallas was 3-1-0 against Colorado, but this could go either way, as 2 of the 3 wins were in the shootout. Dallas is at a disadvantage now, since the playoffs don’t feature shootouts. Each team would’ve gone 1-1-2 in the season series without the shootout rule, but I went with Dallas because Theodore’s injury is still hurting him some and Budaj has no prior playoff experience. If Marty Turco can stay strong in goal and Modano can get some offensive support, Dallas could play Anaheim/Calgary next round.

    Anaheim and Calgary is in my opinion the most interesting match-up in the quarterfinals. Anaheim, as of mid-January, went from as far back as 10th to as high up as 5th. They are the hottest team in the Western Conference right now. Giguere is going to lead the team for the first part with Bryzgalov maybe getting a start or two. The Niedermeyer brothers, along with Teemu Selanne and Joffrey Lupul are going to need to be at their best to beat Mikka Kiprusoff. Calgary has Jarome Iginla, who led the team offensively to the Cup finals in ’03-’04, Dion Phaneuf, a rookie defenseman who would’ve gotten the Calder Trophy if not for Crosby, Ovechkin, and Lundqvist, and the aforementioned Kiprusoff. This is a tough one for me, but their recent performance is why I give Anaheim the edge.

    Nashville and San Jose are participating in the other most interesting match-up in the West. This is a coin-flip for me. Jonathan Cheechoo got cut in the mouth Monday against Los Angeles, but that shouldn’t affect his play. Joe Thornton, the Art Ross Trophy winner (most points), Patrick Marleau, and Evgeni Nabokov will contribute as well. But Nashville has Paul Kariya and Chris Mason. Actually, it seems like Mason, a goaltender had more goals in the regular season than Jeremy Roenick because of his poor performance.

    Now, I will make up several new awards and list my picks for those.

    Jeremy Roenick gets the Most Overrated Player Award.
    Sean Avery gets the “Most Hated Player by People NOT Fans of the Team he Played For” Award. Another name for that award is the “Player Nobody Wants To See Play Again” Award.
    The “Hardest Name to Spell” Award goes to Carlo Colaiacovo, who also gets the “Coolest Name to Say” Award.
    The Atlanta Thrashers get the award for Coolest Alternate Jersey.
    The Ottawa Senators get the Vice-President’s Trophy for having the 2nd best record in the NHL.
    The Los Angeles Kings, for the 4th straight season, get the Hospital Award for having the most man-games lost to injury.
    The St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Chicago Blackhawks share the Pity Award. Now, they all have won more trophies than games.
    The Boston Bruins get the Most Original Logo Award. A “B” inside a circle? I’ve seen better logos on Baseball jerseys. Oh, wait! Baseball jerseys don’t HAVE logos. See my point?
    The Colorado Avalanche get the Most Useless Trade Award for trading Aebischier for the injury-riddled Theodore.
    The Montreal Canadiens get the Most Useful Trade Award for trading the injury-riddled Theodore for Aebischier.
    Jiri Fischer gets the award for doing nothing. I just give this to him because I was at the Detroit/Nashville game where he suffered a seizure.
    WildWing (Anaheim’s mascot) gets the award for Ugliest Mascot.
    Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Calgary, NY Rangers, NY Islanders, Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and Anaheim Mighty Ducks all get this award just for their share of face time, since neither of these teams got any of the aforementioned team awards

  9. call me crazy but i think buff will win it all yes its a long shot but to this day i think they should of won it all against dallas anyways who do you think will win it all as for me im going for the upset buff yes its a long shot but hey isnt everything

    if you wish to tell me who you think will win it all go for it

  10. My early pick is NJ. They are playing the same game that won them the cup a few years ago.

    I see SJ vs NJ in the finals, with the devils winning in 7.

  11. Ottawa to win it all for me
    They played poor down the stretch but two reasons for that..injuries and I really believe they did not want to meet Montreal and were doing some things to keep their options open. Ottawa had to win last night to finish first and did so easily.
    Sens only problem is Hasek. He might just distract the team. We will see but I still think Ottawa wins it all

  12. For want of a better turn of phrase, some teams are “emotionally fragile” going into the playoffs. Heard many a head coach say they would rather start the series on the road.

    Less pressure, and the crowd is almost expecting the home team to be up 2-0 after the first couple of games. This rarely happens, so I guess the original question is, “What happens if a team loses the first game?”

    Ottawa: You want the classic epitome of a fragile team, look at the Sens. Sure they have had injuries recently and are now getting healthy. But in the back of their minds, the team was expecting to have Hasek back. Do they really think that Emery can carry them all the way? Throw in the Sens past playoff failures against inferior teams, and this could be a “uh-oh, here we go again” scenario.

    Detroit: Yes, Detroit. They have had it relatively easy all year. No multiple injuries all year, and they play in a soft division. They are a very deep team, but they have some old legs on that team. Calgary forechecked them into oblivion last season, and the year before that JS Giguere stood on his head and the Ducks swept them 4-0.

    Philadelphia: The pre-season pick to win it all has shown cracks all year. With Forsberg in the line-up these guys play with a lot of confidence. Without him they look lost out there sometimes. Their defence is rather slow, and Buffalo is one fast team. Then there is the issues in goal. Niittymaki should start the series, but he might get yanked and then they are playing with Esche. Then there is a goalie controversy, and the whole team might implode.

    Just my take on some of the favs and how they might fare.

  13. K, you’re still upset at the controversial goal against Buffalo in 1999? I was only 8 when that happened and just today I found out what was so controversial about. Does anybody know where I can see a clip of that play that won it all for Dallas?

    John, on ESPNEWS, it said that Robert Esche will start the series against Buffalo. Is this a mistake? Personally, I would take Niittymaki, the guy who led the Philadelphia Phantoms to the AHL Championship during the lockout. Plus, he scored a goal a couple years ago, not like that has anything to do with anything, but you gotta give props to the guy.

  14. I pick the games different than the regular season. I know….If it ain’t broke…….But this has worked well for a couple of decades. You will get the jest of it when you see the picks. And yes. It’s a ton of games. Another thing I don’t do in the regular season.

    Tampa +230
    Edmonton +258
    Ducks +155
    Rangers +180
    Avs +158
    Habs +170
    Philly +145

    You dig my rap?

  15. I’m a big fan of the Dogs in the NHL… I blindly played all dogs for one day earlier in the season and it worked out. Also, I have mostly only been playing them toward the end of the season and it was profitable. And I think it will be even more likely to be profitable in the playoffs given the nature of play and the potential for low scoring tight games. I’m going to be on all the dogs in the 1st games too.

  16. K, just curious about your playoff strategy. On the games you lose, do you double your original unit size when playing the dog in the 2nd game or keep it the same size as the 1st game play. Or do you have some other way to determine how you play the 2nd games.

    I’m thinking of doubling up for my 2nd games following a 1st game loss. What’s your opinion on this type of strategy??? and then I am even considering chasing for the 3rd game if it goes 0-2… I’m going to do some research on the idea, but thought uyou would have experience with this. Thanks.

  17. Sam……..

    A big no on that one. I keep the wagers the same. I never double them. And NEVER chase. If they lose I just look to win the second game. As being the dog you will still come out ahead with a split.

    btw have you guys seen that Quinn and Rick Ley have been fired???

  18. dave your picks for the playoffs are the exact same as I picked…..lol

    hope your right because it means i will be too…


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