Skip to main content

Pucks On The 'Net: Western Conference Playoff Preview


Let's take a look at some interesting numbers in the four playoff matches in the Western Conference.

Colorado vs. Minnesota
  • The Difference Maker: Colorado has a lot of exciting young forwards that spread the offense around nicely. They have a mobile defense but they are prone to inexperience. That will cost them at some point in these playoffs, but not likely against Minnesota. 
  • The Goalie Battle: Sergei Varlamov has been lights out against pretty much everybody this season for Colorado, while Minnesota has had to over come injuries to their top three goaltenders and now rely on the hot but usually unreliable Ilya Bryzgalov..
  • Head To Head This Season: Colorado held the series advantage this season with a 4-0-1 in 5 games. Gabriel Landeskog led all skaters with 3 goals and 6 points while Nathan MacKinnon, Max Talbot and Ryan O'Reilly also scored 3 times. John Mitchell had 1 goal and 5 assists. Zach Parise led Minnesota's attack with 2 goals and 5 points in 4 games. 
  • History Says: These two teams have met in the playoffs twice before, both in the opening round. Minnesota won in 7 games in 2003, while Colorado won in 6 games in 2008.
St. Louis vs Chicago
  • The Difference Maker: St. Louis' trademark depth up front has been decimated by injuries, with David Backes being the biggest blow. Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Brenden Morrow and Olympic hero TJ Oshie are also on the shelf. It seems everyone has jumped off of the St. Louis bandwagon. But Chicago has not been red hot down the stretch, either. Both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are expected to return from their own injuries for game one.
  • The Goalie Battle: Ryan Miller was the final piece of St. Louis' Stanley Cup puzzle, in theory at least. Does anybody give Corey Crawford any credit?  
  • Head To Head This Season: St. Louis won 3 of the 5 matches, though 2 were courtesy of the shootout. The Blues attack vs Chicago was led from the back end with 5 assists each from blue-line studs Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. Kane and Patrick Sharp led Chicago's attack with identical 2 goal/4 assists efforts.
  • History Says: Historically speaking Chicago has dominated St. Louis in the playoffs, winning 7 of 10 playoff series. St. Louis won the last match-up, but that was back in 2002.

Anaheim vs. Dallas
  • The Difference Maker: These two teams match up fairly well in terms of special teams and size. And Kari Lehtonen could match any of Anaheim's goaltenders on any given night. Anaheim is prone to lack of offense should the deadly Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry tandem ever go cold. But Dallas lacks' Anaheim's blue line depth.
  • The Goalie Battle:Jonas Hiller struggled against the Stars (0-2, 3.91 GAA) while Lehtonen did not play against Anaheim. Anaheim has the depth to recover should Hiller stumble. Does Dallas really turn to Tim Thomas at some point?
  • Head To Head This Season: Dallas took 2 of the 3 meetings this season, all of which were decided in regulation time. Jonas Hiller struggled against the Stars (0-2, 3.91 GAA) while Lehtonen did not play against Anaheim. 
  • History Says: These two teams have twice met in playoffs past, both in the opening round. Anaheim defeated Dallas in six games in 2003, while Dallas won, also in six games, in 2008.
San Jose vs. Los Angeles
  • The Difference Maker: Two serious Stanley Cup contenders collide in this first round match-up with only one to survive. San Jose is always a contender but have never made that next jump. Meanwhile the Kings are scary but lack offense.
  • The Goalie Battle: Jonathan Quick vs Antii Niemi should scare goal scorers on both sides. Niemi has been a bit inconsistent heading into the playoffs, so most will give Quick the slight edge in this department. 
  • Head To Head This Season: LA narrowly won the season series, taking 3 of 5 games, 1 by the shootout. Jeff Carter led the way with 2 goals and 4 points. Joe Pavelski led the way for the Sharks with 3 goals. Interestingly, LA kept Joe Thornton to only 1 goal and 0 assists in 5 games this season.
  • History Says: This will be the third meeting between these two teams, with all series coming since 2011. San Jose won in 2011 opening round in six games. LA won in 7 games in the semi-finals en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
I like Colorado, Chicago, and San Jose to win. If I had to pick an upset in the West I'd go with Dallas but I will play it safe and pick Anaheim.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M