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Western Conference Quarter Final Predictions
Take these to the bank!
4/15/14 - By LGS Staff -

We've sized up the first round of the playoffs with our form of predictions, LGS style. Do not use for gambling or any form of wagering. For your entertainment (or not) only.

We've called out series winners, why they'll win, who we think will be the x-factor in the series, but most importantly, who will be the goat!

Colorado vs. Minnesota
Ken Smyth - Wild in 7
All right, the Av’s have an average age of 12 but score like crazy. Minnesota made the playoffs but are relying on Ilya Bryzgalov in their nets after a spate of goalie injuries. This series could be the upset we’re all looking for in the first round, assuming the Wild can get a run from Bryz. Matt Moulson and Jason Pominville are steady guys up front and the Av’s are missing Matt Duchene and Alex Tanguay. On the blueline Minnesota has Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Av’s nobody special.

Standout- Matt Moulson Goat- Av’s defense, unless forwards Nate Mackinnon and Gabriel Landeskog play 60 minutes a game
Ryan Hall - Wild in 6
No one is saying it, but for my money Colorado is in big trouble facing off against a hungry, talented, and tested Minnesota squad. On the flip side Patrick Roy leads his young greenhorns into the playoffs without really knowing how they'll respond. This gives the edge to the Wild, and the lessons they learned last year in their loss to Chicago will pay off as they take the over achieving Avs out.

Standouts: Simeon Varlamov is the backbone of Colorado, and if he'll be the most likely Avalance to make a difference. On the flip side, Ilya Bryzgalov has endured some tough times in his career, but I think he gets it right this time backstopping the Wild to Round 2.

Goats: Simeon Varlamov, yup him again. The Caps gave up on him because they didn't think he was a big game goaltender. If he proves them correct, he'll take all the heat for an early exit. Same goes for his counterpart Bryzgalov, who just seems to attract all the attention for his teams failures.
Paul Krill - Avalanche in 6
Colorado has had a tremendous resurgence and enjoys home ice. I don't pay much attention to these teams but I think Peter Stastny will star for the Avalanche while Zach Parise will struggle for the Wild. Parise won't get to the Finals again this year like he did for the Devils a few years ago.
Mike Lee - Avalanche in 5
For everyone hoping for the big upset, don't count on it. The Avalanche simply ran roughshod over teams the last two months of the season and their youth makes them too oblivious to feel the pressure of the playoffs. Colorado is loaded with young talent, but simply stacks up better against he Wild from top to bottom. The only question mark for the Avalanche is who is going to pick up th eslack for Matt Duchesne. The Avalanche's all-world forward is still on the shelf after injuring his knee against the Sharks on March 29th.

Standouts: Ryan O'Reilly has been on fire of late and he will emerge as aplyoff presence agains the overmatched Wild. Gabriel Landeskog will also make lots of noise in this round.

Goats: Zach Parise was brought to Minnesota to help them win Championships. His presence alone won't be enough. Leading scorer Jason Pominville is a non-factor.

St. Louis vs Chicago
Ken Smyth - Blues in 7
Another throwback series to the Norris Division days, with various Sutter brothers on opposite sides. The Blues looked like the overall team to beat in the NHL but stumbled into a losing streak in the last few weeks. With TJ Oshie questionable after a cheap hit to the head by the Wild’s Mike Rupp there is cause for concern. The defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks sort of laughed their way through the season, confident of making the 2-3 Central Division matchup, and now find themselves matched against a traditional and strong rival with game 7 to be on the road. Patrick Kane has been out for a few weeks with a lower body injury, Jonathan Toews out for a few games with an upper body injury. This makes one healthy superstar equivalent starting game one for the Hawks. Prediction here is Blues in seven, unless Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville finds the on switch.

Standout- Blues’ goaltender Ryan Miller, who should shine with coach Ken Hitchcock’s defensive system

Goat- Blues’ goaltender Ryan Miller, who needs to shutout the Hawks based on coach Joel Quenneville’s defensive system
Ryan Hall - Blackhawks in 4
What should have been a great series will sadly turn into a laugher as the Blues are currently without 7 of their top 12 forwards! That number will probably change, but even missing 1 or 2 pieces against the Hawks is enough to sink a St. Louis team that really stumbled down the stretch. About the only thing that can save the Blues would be Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews not being ready to play, or Ryan Miller stealing the series. I don't see either of those things happening.

Standout: For St. Louis to have a change, Ryan Miller needs to channel his Buffalo Sabres of 2006/7 self and shut the door. On the other side, Patrick Sharp has been on fire this season, and an injured Blues team should help him say hot.

Goats: Ken Hitchcock is the Blue with the most to answer for if things go south, as coaches only have a certain shelf-life, and his might be running out in St. Louis. On the other side, nothing could sink the Hawks quicker than Cory Crawford springing some leaks, as there is no one on the depth chart behind him.
Paul Krill - Blues in 6
The Blues have been the team to beat lately while Chicago has to be burnt out from making the Finals last year. Ryan Miller, who has withstood Olympic pressure for Team USA, will come up big for Saint Louis while tired Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford will falter. Lately, though, neither team has been stellar - the Blues were 3-7 in their last 10 games while the Blackhawks were 5-5.
Mike Lee - Blackhawks in 5
St Louis crawled to the finish line during the regular season, dropping their last 7 games and by all indications, they'll do the same against a battle proven Blackhawks lineup that knows how to win in the playoffs. Chicago also has something to prove. After winning it all last season, they've looked nothing like the defending Stanley Cup Champions late in the regular season. If Corey Crawford can get right, the Hawks could be looking at a return visit to the finals. The new playoff scheduling format makes this game a travesty. St Louis was one of the hottest teams all season. Subtract their late season implosion and you have two of the best teams in the West facing off in the first round. Lame.

Standouts: Forget the Blackhawks usual cast of characters. The defense will be the biggest difference in this series. Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy and Niklas Hjalmarsson make Corey Crawford look like a world beater.

Goats: Remember how T.J. Oshie was all world in the Olympics. You'll barely hear his name in this series.

Anaheim vs Dallas
Ken Smyth - Ducks in 6
Put two former Pacific Division rivals who don’t care for each other in the same rink and add a surprise goaltending question. Anaheim looked like they should breeze through here but they’ve been stale for a few weeks. Dallas is young and hungry . (Only Edmonton is young and well-fed, look where that got them!) . This should be Anaheim in six games, but the recent question in goal between rookie John Gibson and a struggling Jonas Hiller has people wondering. I still think the Ducks have too much depth no matter who is in goal. Neutralize the Corey Perry /Ryan Getzlaff line and they still have big bodies to wear you down. Dallas has Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, plus original Shark Ray Whitney up front and good goaltending in Kari Lehtonen and Tim Thomas.

Standout- Teemu Selanne, his last season. He came in with a bang and will want to leave with one

Goat- Dallas special teams, losing Rich Peaverly doesn’t help
Ryan Hall - Ducks in 6
In a strange twist of fate, the first playoff match-up for the Ducks in the new format is against an old division foe. That means both sides are well acquainted, and should get the bad blood flowing early! While Anaheim has been streaky, their offense is just too deep for the Dallas to keep up with, unless Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn carry them. The only intriguing angle though is the uncertainty in each crease, where the lurking specter of Tim Thomas for the Stars could shift things in their favour if he gets the call.

Standouts: In the playoffs, chippy play rules and that is right up Cory Perry's avenue. On the other side, Tyler Seguin has already proven himself to be a postseason star as well, so look for him to shine brightly.

Goats: Jonas Hiller/Frederick Anderson (goalies) in Anaheim both have to prove that the last few weeks of the season were flukes. If the Ducks stumble, it'll all rest on them. Conversely, Kari Lehtonen has yet to win a playoffs game in his career (0-4), so he loom large as the one to blame in Dallas.
Paul Krill - Ducks in 5
I'd love to see Dallas win this series but it won't happen. Ducks in 5, maybe 4. The usual cast - Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, will light up the lamp for Anaheim while Dallas's Kari Lehtonen struggles in goal. Should be an easy series win for Southern California's Extra NHL Team. Maybe they'll even sell the place out.
Mike Lee - Ducks in 5
Don't look for any miracles here. Dallas was a cute story late in the season, but their assent to the 8th seed also came courtesy of a Coyotes team that lost 6 of 10 games to piss a playoff spot away. Anaheim will man-handle the the Stars. Look for Anaheim to get complacent in Dallas to drop one game, but that will refocus them. Look for a mauling in Game 5.

Standouts: The Ducks have two guys that can kill you and they'll do exactly that against the Stars. The only question is, who will score more goals, Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf.

Goats: Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn acounted for 30% of the Stars goal production this season. Once the Ducks take those guys out of the equation by beating them senseless, the Stars will be seing stars.

San Jose vs. Los Angeles
Ken Smyth - Sharks in 7
OK, two teams with lots of RECENT playoff history, this will be the third meeting in four years. LA coach Darryl Sutter has the Kings playing his game of dumping the puck in and banging people; they don’t mind a 2-1 win and goaltender Jonathan Quick has a Stanley Cup ring from 2012. The Sharks can put out four lines that move the puck, not something we’re used to seeing; also seven healthy legitimate NHL defensemen. That’s another thing we’re not used to seeing in April when typically the Sharks 5-6 defensive pair is a couple guys who should be in the press box. The Kings added Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline to help with scoring. The Sharks will have Raffi Torres and Tomas Hertl back after injury. Don’t expect Kings captain Dustin Brown to get much respect from the Sharks. Based on the last regular season game between these two teams, this should be the nastiest of the eight series.

Standout- Joe Pavelski, wherever he plays on a given night

Goat- LA defenseman Drew Doughty, who can look like a Norris Trophy candidate a lot of times, but not often enough
Ryan Hall - Sharks in 5
You read that right: Sharks in 5. If there ever was a team that the Sharks know better than themselves, it's the Kings who played the villains role last year in a thrilling 7 game classic. This time around the Sharks know exactly what it'll take to get past the Kings, and have the forward depth to truly test LA in ways they couldn't last year. While each game will be tight, in the end the bounces will go San Jose's way, and they'll take care of business quickly.

Standouts: When the playoffs come around, Joe Pavelski seems to shine and in this series that won't change. His counterpart Justin Williams also seems to be a post-season stud, with a knack for driving daggers in the Sharks.

Goats: Right now the man with the biggest pressure is Anti Niemi, who needs to prove that he really is a money goaltender. If the Sharks are playing Alex Stalock at any point in this series, you can bet Niemi will be the one bearing the blame. On the other side, Dustin Brown needs to have a bounce back period after awful regular season that has some fans question whether he should be moved. If the Kings go out (and they will), it'll all fall on their captain.
Paul Krill - Sharks in 7
At last - a series where I don't have to go looking up stats because I actually pay a lot of attention to one of the teams involved. Joe Pavelski will continue his Brett Hull imitation and get open for clear shots on goal while Alex Stalock replaces Anti Niemi between the pipes, after Niemi struggles. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick will struggle as well, failing to get it done just like at the Olympics. Sharks in 7.
Mike Lee - Kings in 6
As much as it pains me to say it, the Sharks don't get out of the fisrt round this year. The Sharks and Kings have staged some pretty entertaining series the past few years, but this will be the series that exposes the Sharks age and holes in net. Todd McLellan will lean on Antti Niemi early, Niemi will surrender some soft goals, forcing McLellan to make a change. Alex Stalock will put up a valiant fight, but his playoff inexperience will eventually do him and the Sharks in. This series will come down to special teams. The Kings will execute with the man advantage, and the Sharks won't. Don't expect to see Raffi Torres in the lineup, or Tomas Hertl to have any impact. His return simply came too late.

Standouts: This will be a slugfest, but look for the Kings supporting cast to make the biggest diffeence in the series. Guys like Alec Martinez, Tyler Toffoli and Robyn Regehr step up as the big guns are locked up with the Sharks big guns.

Goats: The Sharks power play will do them in. Goals will come at a premium in this series and the Sharks absence of a formidable power play will be their Achilles heel.

Check out our Eastern Conference predictions.


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