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Stanley Cup Playoffs, Western Conference Semifinal Preview

04/28/11

The first round is over and the Canucks, Sharks, Red Wings, and Predators have emerged out of the Western Conference to battle in the semifinals! The Canucks will take on the Predators while the Sharks and Red Wings will collide.

Before Black & Blue & Gold’s staff preview the two WCSF series, how did they do in the quarterfinal round? I went 2-2 with not a single series predicted perfectly, Alex went 3-1 with the SJS/LAK series predicted perfectly, Tom went 3-1 with the SJS/LAK and ANA/NSH series predicted perfectly, and Jay went 3-1 with not a single series predicted perfectly. Onto the series previews!

5th Seed Nashville Predators vs 1st Seed Vancouver Canucks

Vulgar Stats Playoff Power Rankings:
Regular Season Series: VAN and NSH tied at 2-2-0

Phil: The Predators play a tiring, grinding defensive style that wears opposing players down while the Canucks play a rolling, line after line attack that can overwhelm their opponent. Despite the talent gap, I see the Predators making a series of it before ultimately losing (think Sabres losing to Flyers). VAN in 6

Alex: Quick, who scored in the first round for Nashville? A bunch of people you’ve never heard of…and Shea Weber. Nashville’s defense and goaltending chokes the life out of an already on pins and needles Vancouver team. NSH in 7

Tom: Vancouver cruised to a quick 3 game lead in round one, but puckered up and let the defending champs back in it, needing a game 7 OT goal after a mini goaltending controversy to advance. Nashville has finally made it to the second round with trademark stifling defense, and opportunistic offense. Nashville steals a game early to really put the pressure on the ‘Nucks. NSH in 6

Jay: Rinne. Thats why the Preds will win. Rinne has been great all year long, and I see no reason for that not to continue. Nashville is arguably the healthiest team in the playoffs, and one of the toughest. I think Nashville gets plenty of chances, and will eventually start beating Luongo on those shots. NSH in 6

3rd Seed Detroit Red Wings vs 2nd Seed San Jose Sharks

Vulgar Stats Playoff Power Rankings:
Regular Season Series: SJS wins series 3-1-0

Phil: The Kings exposed the Sharks’ deficiencies early in the series. The Red Wings will do the same. The Sharks are talented but, besides Joe Thornton scoring the series-clinching goal, their stars just aren’t doing it again. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are firing on all cylinders and both special teams are locked in. DET in 6

Alex: San Jose is a greyhound bus and Detroit is an unfortunate squirrel crossing the road. The sharks absolutely flew into the playoffs mowing down everyone in their wake and posting a 12-3 record against playoff teams in their final thirty regular season games. Make that 16-5 after dispatching LA. SJS in 6

Tom: Year after year, I’d like to say Detroit is too old, and their time is past. Year after year, they prove me wrong. San Jose played a good first round, and should be well prepared to deal with the puck possession game played by the Wings. SJS in 7

Jay: Never, ever, ever, bet against Detroit. They just find ways to win. Hands down one of the most versatile teams in the league this year, they can win by scoring, defending, special teams play, or goal tending. They don’t do anything exceptionally well, but they don’t do anything poorly either. DET in 7

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