Western Conference Playoff Capsules

The Matchup

(P1) Anaheim vs. (WC2) Dallas

The Season Series 

The Stars took two of three from the Ducks, scoring 11 goals in the process, but the two teams haven’t met since February 1.

The Skinny

Four of the league’s top-10 scorers get together for what looks to be a lamp-lighting frenzy. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn combined for 332 points in the regular season, and now, for Act II… 

The Guys You Should Root For 

Anaheim: Teemu Selanne, he of the “Save My Rookie Card” club.

Dallas: Ray Whitney, he of the wife, three children and 376 career goals. 

The All-Important Edge 

Anaheim’s secondary scoring. After Seguin and Benn, the Stars don’t have a single forward past 40 points. Not counting Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks have three. That depth will prove to be too much to handle for Dallas.  

The Prediction 

Anaheim in five, because even if Seguin and Benn score 16 goals each, the Hockey Gods will make sure Selanne and the Ducks score one more. 

*** 

The Matchup 

(P2) San Jose vs. (P3) Los Angeles

The Season Series 

The Kings posted a 3-1-1 record against the Sharks, but San Jose won the most recent meeting (April 3).

The Skinny 

Playoff choke artists versus playoff gurus, right? Not so fast. The Sharks are the favorite in this series, even if history might say otherwise.

The Guys You Should Root For: 

San Jose: Joe Thornton, he of the novel goal celebration. (If you don’t want to root for him personally, just root for his stick to swat four pucks into the net.)

Los Angeles: Darryl Sutter, he of the best quotes in hockey.

The All-Important Edge 

San Jose’s offense. The Sharks simply outclass the Kings on the offensive side of the puck, boasting more scorers and playmakers than Viktor Tikhonov would know what to do with. I know, I know – L.A. is tough to score against. But so are the Sharks. And thus they can match the Kings’ best weapon; the Kings can’t match theirs.

The Prediction 

Sharks in seven, after which Sutter tells the media he had a bad feeling this series was going to last somewhere between four and seven games. 

***

The Matchup   

(C1) Colorado vs. (WC1) Minnesota

The Season Series 

The Avs won four of five over a two-month span in December and January, even picking up a point in their lone loss.

The Skinny 

The upstart Avalanche hope to keep their dream season alive against the battle-tested Wild. Meanwhile, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter try to earn their keep.

The Guys You Should Root For: 

Colorado: Paul Stastny, he of the “Adopted Hometown Hero “ Club.

Minnesota: Ilya Bryzgalov, he of the best quotes in hockey. (Wait. Is that a showdown?? Yes it is! Sutter vs. Bryzgalov in a 30-second speed-round of “Who Can Say The Weirdest Sh*t.” GO.)

The All-Important Edge 

Colorado’s goaltending. A tip of the cap to Bryzgalov for finding his way back to the NHL, but the truth is he’s still not all that good. His countryman Semyon Varlamov most certainly is. It’s the one area in this series where either team has a clear advantage.

The Prediction 

Colorado in four, because there’s gotta be a sweep somewhere, right?

*** 

The Matchup 

(C2) St. Louis vs. (C3) Chicago

The Season Series 

The Blues won the first three, the Hawks won the last two.

The Skinny 

The defending champs have their hands full with the Blues, the best team in the Western Conference for much of the season. Or maybe the other way around. Anyway you frame it, this is a heavyweight battle of two Cup Contenders.

The Guys You Should Root For 

St. Louis: Brenden Morrow, he of the 15-year career and Stanley Cup famine.

Chicago: Patrick Kane, he of the sad face you never want to see again.

The All-Important Edge 

St. Louis’ two-way forward play. There’s no shortage of firepower up front for either team in this series, but the goalscorers for the Blues pull their weight in the defensive end of the rink too – it’s one of the reasons they finished third in the league in goals against. It’s hard to say the same about the Blackhawks, a team comprised of mostly one-way forwards.

The Prediction 

Blues in seven, after a third-period penalty shot goal by T.J Oshie in the deciding game.

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