2013 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Western Conference Quarterfinals


Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the playoffs. The glorious promised land of the NHL. The gated community that welcomes the worthy and shuts out the rest, leaving them to draw lots for who gets the cardboard box (If you can’t see that that analogy stands for the Draft, I forgive you.)

While the Playoffs begin tonight, we here at NOTSC figured that we should make some predictions, and that is precisely what we’re gonna do. While the chance that these predictions will be 100% accurate is about as likely as the Hartford Whalers winning the cup, we want to make them, anyway. So, without further ado, here are the NOTSC Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions for the Quarterfinals!

Western Conference

1) Chicago Blackhawks vs 8) Minnesota Wild

This series is the embodiment of the old CBA. Teams taking talented players and locking them up for ridiculous amounts of money, leaving the rest of the roster filled with bargain players and rookies since the rest of the money is devoted to the stars. Both teams are loaded with talent. Chicago has Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa. Minnesota has Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Mikko Koivu. The only difference is that Chicago bludgeoned the competition like Patrick Kane bludgeons cab drivers, while Minnesota just crawled into the playoffs, lucking out due to a Blue Jackets loss.

This series will be flashy, but brief. Chicago’s utter manhandling of the Western Conference sustained itself over 48 games, and Minnesota just won’t be able to take it. Chicago is also trying to get over their early exit last year, after the Coyotes knocked them out in the first round. If Minnesota wants to take this series, they’ll have to jump out early. Don’t expect that, though.

Prediction: Blackhawks over Wild in 5


2) Anaheim Ducks vs. 7) Detroit Red Wings

Really, Detroit?! You just couldn’t let another team enjoy the playoffs?! Another season, another trip to the playoffs for the octopus-tossers Red Wings. This year, they have to face Anaheim, who will try to pull a Fasth one over on this Detroit team (I couldn’t resist).

This series will be different, to be sure. Anaheim is the one in the driver’s seat, this time, having locked up two of their biggest playmakers in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to long-term deals. Combined with Teemu Selanne’s inability to age, this Ducks team climbed to the top of the Pacific Division. Detroit, on the other hand, is in unfamiliar territory. Gone is the dynamic duo of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom. That veteran leadership was a key element of the Cup runs Detroit had a few years prior. Now, while they have the skill, the leadership is not as strong as it was. That might play a major role in how this series goes.

The key to this series will come down to goalie play for Anaheim. The offense is there. The bigger question is who will anchor the net? Jonas Hiller? Viktor Fasth? The sooner they find their starter, the better. If Detroit wants to win, they’ll have to exploit Anaheim goalies early and often, which is precisely what will happen. While this Detroit team may not be as experienced as teams prior, there are still players on that roster that know a thing or two about navigating the gauntlet that is the playoffs.

Prediction: Red Wings over Ducks in 6


3) Vancouver Canucks vs 6) San Jose Sharks

Despite Roberto Luongo’s determined efforts, the Vancouver Canucks managed to make the playoffs again. Alain Vigneault took a roster that lost Ryan Kesler to a broken foot and woeful goalie play and steadied the ship, coasting to another Northwest Division title despite pressure from the Minnesota Wild. On the other end, the San Jose Sharks continue to appear in the playoffs. What makes this team interesting is that they were in what appeared to be a sellers mode at the deadline, dealing Douglas Murray and Ryan Clowe while acquiring Raffi Torres and Scott Hannan. They managed to get hot at the right time, though, and here they are.

This series will also revolve around goalie play. For Vancouver, someone has to be consistent. Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo have this fun little game they play with each other called “Who can suck worse tonight,” and if Vancouver is going to have any hope of advancing, they have to put that game on hold. For San Jose, the team rode Antti Niemi hard this season. Can he keep it up, or will he fold under the pressure? we think Vancouver’s dysfunctional duo will prove to be their downfall.

Prediction: Sharks over Canucks in 6


4) St. Louis Blues vs 5) Los Angeles Kings

REMATCH!!! These teams met in the playoffs last year, and that match-up was a shocker. Then an 8 seed, the Kings swept the Blues en route to winning the Cup. This year, the seeding is a little closer. The Blues faltered a little there at the end, but they recovered to make the playoffs again. The Kings started the season a little shaky, but rounded into form at the right time.

This series is gonna be intense. Both teams have the goalies to make it a defensive battle. There will be bodychecks. There will be Dustin Brown elbow-to-the-head cheapshots. There will be blood. This series will be the equivalent of a knock-down, drag-out brawl. This series will be decided by who can get the first goal and keep the lead. Quick is a wall. So is Elliot. It’s a difficult decision, but we think the Kings will pull it off. Elliot was faulty at times, more so than Quick, and Halak can’t stay healthy. The Kings will exploit that. Regardless, this might be the most exciting series in the Western Conference this year. In the immortal words of Twitter, “leeeggggggooooo!”

Prediction: Kings over Blues in 7

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