2ITB Playoff Predictions: Western Conference

I may never recapture the magic of the 2012 2ITB Playoff Predictions. Specifically, the magic of my 5-for-8 first round in which the Blues, Penguins and Bruins fell as teams I chose to advance. Regardless of that fact I will offer my thoughts on each round of the playoffs just as I have in previous years. Beginning with the Western Conference.

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #8 Minnesota Wild

Minnesota snuck in just ahead of #Lumbus for the eighth spot in the west and their prize is to face the Presidents Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks. Congratulations. Minnesota has a nice little roster and can certainly give teams fits, especially if their guns start firing. However Chicago is about three players short of being an All-Star team and have a pretty impressive makeup for a long playoff run.

Why Chicago will win: Depth and talent. Simply put the Blackhawks have one of the most impressive rosters I’ve seen this side of my NHL 99 team that had Steve Yzerman playing in a third line role. When you have players like Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa on your second line, you have a very impressive roster. There is a reason the Hawks rattled off that “unbeaten” streak earlier in the year. Their fans just have to hope that magic is still in the room.

Why Minnesota will win: The Wild, on paper, have the edge in goal. I think there could be some contention in Chicago over whether Ray Emery or Corey Crawford should start (especially if one of them falters). Nik Backstrom is a great keeper and could definitely give the Hawks headaches if he stands on his head. Minnesota will need to avoid certain matchups to fully take advantage of the talent they have as compared to the near limitless depth of the Blackhawks. Continue reading