Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Second round predictions: Western Conference

With the first two games of the second round beginning tonight, and the magic 8-ball dusted off, it is time to make bold predictions as to who will advance.

(3) St. Louis Blues vs. (WC2) Nashville Predators

The Blues stole the series from Minnesota despite being badly outshot, losing the majority of faceoffs in every zone, and being outplayed.  Jake Allen was the star of the show, Vladimir Sobotka made a triumphant return from Russia to spark the offense, and the Blues made up for three massive roster losses since last year's disappointment against the Sharks.  This goes to show just how finicky the playoffs really are.  Anything can, and this year, did happen, as the only team to seriously contend for the Capitals regular season crown fell short.

Did I mention Bruce Boudreau is the coach?  That explains a lot.

Big plus to Mike Yeo for beating his former team, in dramatic fashion too.

The Predators, much like the Blues, were heavy underdogs going into the series, but their vanquished opponents, too, are golfing.  Routing the Blackhawks, while shutting them out twice in the United Center, was unpredictable to say the least.

Pekka Rinne was back to normal, and the Predators are looking very smart after trading Shea Weber for PK Subban.  Their luck will continue as they look to advance to their first conference final in franchise history.

Prediction: Nashville in 5

(1) Anaheim Ducks vs. (2) Edmonton Oilers

The pesky Ducks, led again by Stanley Cup winner Randy Carlyle, rolled over the upstart Calgary Flames.  This was made more impressive by the injuries to the defense corps of Anaheim, partly at the hands of Flames captain Mark Giordano.  Fortunately for Ducks fans, the team stood up for their defenseman (unlike the Capitals who chose to take cheapshots and hand away powerplays while never addressing the issue), and rallied around each other and sent the Flames to the links early.

Connor McDavid is the best player in the league.  He skates like Bobby Orr, stickhandles like Alexei Kovalev, and picks corners like Pavel Bure.  He also makes everyone around him better, to which Pat Maroon and his expected pay raise can attest.  McDavid is the difference maker in every game, and it is hard to pick against him.

Prediction: Edmonton in 7

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