1. Chicago Blackhawks v 8. Minnesota Wild
Chicago have been phenomenal this season, winning 36 from 48 on their way to the Presidents Trophy. Minnesota looked for a while like they may win the North West division but ended up scraping into the playoffs on the last day of the season. Chicago are many people’s pick to go all the way and claim the cup. Minnesota may take some heart from the fact that the number 8 seed in the West went all the way to claim the cup last year.
The Blackhawks should easily dispose of the Wild challenge and this series may be a sweep.
Verdict: Chicago Blackhawks
2. Anaheim Ducks v 7. Detroit Red Wings
Anaheim may be the two seed but this series promises to be a close affair. Detroit won the season series 2-1 and have shown glimpses of their class in periods throughout the season. They will need to bring it consistently to progress. Anaheim started the season well, being overshadowed by Chicago’s point streak, but have cooled in the last quarter of the season. Bruce Boudreau will be hoping that his team will get back to their earlier performance level now that they have something to play for again.
This is a series that could require a game 7.
Verdict: Detroit Red Wings
3. Vancouver Canucks v 6. San Jose
The common consensus is that this is a match up that both sides wanted. Both have similar traits with lots of expectation in recent years but no cup between them, Vancouver have managed to win the West in 2011. San Jose have the worst road record of all playoff team but they are the only team in the playoffs that Vancouver have failed to beat. The big story in Vancouver always surrounds the goal tending position and even though they have two top goaltenders this can often be a distraction.
Verdict: San Jose Sharks
4. St Louis Blues v 5. Los Angeles Kings
The defending Stanley Cup Champions Los Angeles Kings start the defence of their title on the road in St Louis. These are two big and powerful teams in what should be a war of attrition. The Kings swept the Blues on their way to the Stanley Cup last season and also swept them in the season series. All signs would then point to a Kings win but St Louis may be ready to finally beat Los Angeles after 8 consecutive unsuccessful attempts.
Verdict: St Louis Blues