The post I wrote because I refuse to speculate about trades today. Sorry Rick Nash fans.
In the west:
1: Detroit Red Wings vs 8: Calgary Flames
- This clash would be interesting primarily because Iginla, Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff would have done the near impossible: drag a team without a legitimate top center, and limited depth at wings into the playoffs. Neither the team is especially good on the road. But guess what, this matchup won’t happen. Why? The Calgary Flames will be higher in the standings when all is said and done. Also interesting is that neither of these teams is all that good on the road. The reason the Flames will be a position or two higher? 15 home games remaining and only 8 road games left.
2: Vancouver Canucks vs 6: Phoenix Coyotes
- If I had to pick a matchup for an upset, this is the one. The goaltending and defense are a dead heat. With Mike Smith’s confidence riding high, I might even give the edge to the Coyotes in that regard, but hey when your lowest save percentage in a month is .914% you can be a little confident. The Coyotes are a lot more physical than the Canucks as well, and that was the Canucks downfall against the Bruins in the Cup finals last year. The Canucks might escape this matchup before it happens, with less than half their remaining games against playoff teams they could edge the Red Wings and Rangers for the Presidents Trophy.
3: San Jose Sharks vs Chicago BlackHawks
- This serious could go either way, and Canucks fans would be cheering for the two teams to lay waste to each other. Chicago’s got the better offense, but the Sharks are a better balanced team. The Sharks can win on the road, the Blackhawks are a bit challenged in that regard. This would likely end up the western series with the most offense per game as neither team has spectacular goaltending.
4: St Louis Blue vs 5: Nashville Predators
- This all central division matchup would by any reasonable expectation be the lowest scoring of the first round, and probably the entire playoffs. But that’s no excuse to miss Erat, Weber and Suter of the Predators rolling into the playoffs with their new running buddy and Stanley Cup Champion Hal Gill (@Skillsy75) . The chance to watch TJ Oshie teleport across the ice, see David Backes run a few people over and pot a few goals while Alex Pietrangelo shows how well he can put points on the board against Rinne.