Western Conference Playoff Preview

in Misc by admin   •   28 Jun 2013   •   0 Comments
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Welcome to the wild, Wild West. Below is a playoff preview of the teams in the Western Conference. 

#1 Blues vs. #8 Kings It’s the NAIHL’s version of David vs. Goliath. 

Blues keys to success The Blues were the league’s top team during the regular season piling up 55 wins along the way. Their team is loaded with stars from Kovalchuk and Zetterburg to Giroux and Weber. The Blues boast a PP and PK in the top five in the league. They also rank in the top five in goals for and goals against. It’s hard to pick a weakness on this team other than they have been here before but have yet to bring home the cup.

Kings keys to success Coming down to the last day of the season before clinching a playoff spot their reward is the top seeded St. Louis Blues. While the Kings do have some good young pieces they are may be in over their head against the powerhouse Blues. Young superstar John Tavares is their franchise going forward, but he alone won’t be enough to pull the upset here. The Kings can take solace in the fact that they played the Blues hard this season splitting their season series 3-3. 

Prediction: The Blues will be too much to handle for these Kings. Blues in five.   

#2 Sharks vs. #7 Oilers The Sharks enter the playoffs on a two game winning streak, the Oilers carry in a two game losing streak – which streak will continue. 

Sharks keys to success The Sharks grabbed the 2nd seed in the competitive Western Conference and will look to make quick work of a plucky Oilers squad. The Sharks bring a potentially explosive offense with seven 20 goal scorers and an all world goalie. The Sharks rank third in the league in shots, peppering opposing goalies with 27 shots a game. If that trend continues it would be hard to imagine the Oilers surviving this shark attack.
Oilers keys to success The Oilers took a step back this season from their 52 wind season a year ago. Now they face a hungry shark squad looking for blood. The Oilers were led this year by perennial 30 goal scorer Matt Moulson 36G 40A 76pts. Unfortunately for the Oilers, one of the Sharks strengths shots per game is one of their weaknesses. The Oilers give up Around 26 shots per game. They will have to lean heavily on their top line of Moulson/Lecavalier/Bourque if they are to have any chance. 

Predicition: Edmonton did play San Jose very close this year losing the season series by one game 3-4. Stealing a game or two away from the Sharks is not out of the question, but it won’t be enough to win the series. Sharks in six.   

#3 Flames vs. #6 Coyotes It’s the battle of the top two PP teams in the league. The team that stays out of the box might very well end up on top in this series. 

Flames keys to success Calgary enters the playoffs as another team on a hot streak. Winning 9 of their last 12 games and being the second highest scoring team in the league. Not only can they score goals they can also keep them out. Calgary ranks top 5 in both goals for and goals against. The Flames need to keep the heat on the Coyotes with their high octane offense led by Gaborik and his 37G. If they get their top ranked PP rolling and Howard continues his steady play it could be tough to douse these Flames. 

Coyotes keys to success Much like the Flames the Coyotes were pretty lethal on the PP this year too. Phoenix’s second ranked power play can trot out the top two PP goal scorers in the league with Simmonds and Pacioretty. On the flip side the Coyotes also hold the distinction of having the league’s worst PK unit. Phoenix has to stay out of the box and hope their 41 year old net minder can withstand another rigorous postseason.    

Prediction: This series will be a lot closer than meets the eye. The Coyotes played the Flames tough all season winning the season series 2-3. The team who gets their PP units rolling first will come out on top in this one. Coyotes in seven.   

#4 Canucks vs. #5 Red Wings After a long hiatus both teams make their return to NAIHL’s second season. Both teams will be hungry, but only one will be satisfied after this series.   

Canucks keys to success The Vancouver Canucks are your prototypical blue collar working man’s team. No real superstar to boast about, just a group of guys willing to do what it takes to get the job done. The Canucks have six twenty goal scorers, but no one with thirty goals. It looks like they are happy to spread the love around but have no one willing to take charge. Vancouver will need to keep playing their scrappy style and hope that a leader emerges to take them into the second round. 

Red Wings keys to success Unlike Vancouver, Detroit has talented players and was able to sign some big name free agents in the off season in Pavel Datsyuk and Pekka Rinne. The Red Wings will now need these big name acquisitions to step forward and prove they were worth the money. During the regular season the Red Wings were the best team in the faceoff circle. Their ability to control faceoff’s in critical situations along with some timely saves from Rinne will be instrumental in determining the fate of Motown. 

Prediction: The Canucks seemed were able to handle the Red Wings this year winning their season series 3-2. Detroit’s playmakers have to want it to get past this scrappy Canucks team. Either way this will be a close series. Canucks in six.

Submitted by Sabres
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