2012 Stanley Cup Western Conference Playoffs Predictions
Without further ado, here are our 2012 Stanley Cup Western Conference Playoffs predictions and Stanley Cup picks. To keep the predictions more reader friendly, we each picked the first round and Stanley Cup Final.
If you missed the East, here you go!
2012 WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTER-FINALS
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings
Todd Cordell: Come playoff time, the play of goaltenders is always magnified. Jonathan Quick is the best goaltender in the West, in my opinion, and I have no confidence in Roberto Luongo. Kings in seven (4-3).
Ryan Harrison: Too much depth for the Canucks to not win. Kings are forming into a good team too late. Canucks in seven (4-3).
Lukas Hardonk: Do the Kings know how to score a goal? Canucks in six (4-2).
Rhys Richards: Vancouver over Los Angeles.: Quick keeps his team in it, but LA’s offensive woes continue. Canucks in six (4-2)
Christopher Decker: Kings Vezina candidate, Jonathan Quick, will be the only reason the team has a chance against the Canucks. Canucks in five (4-1).
Mike Luciano: LA and Vancouver split a very close season series at two apiece. Although Los Angeles doesn’t give up that many goals, they’ve worked with a lackluster and inconsistent offense all season and are facing off against the most offensively productive team in the league. Canucks in six (4-2).
Charlie O’Conner: Vancouver’s record is inflated due to their weak division, Daniel Sedin’s status remains uncertain, and Los Angeles has been one of the West’s best even strength teams since the Jeff Carter trade. Kings in seven (4-3).
Steve Palumbo: Can Jonathan Quick be the difference? I say no. Canucks in six (4-2).
Brendan Ross: The ‘Nucks understand that regular season success does not equate to post-season success and they enter the post-season red hot with 8 wins in their past ten. My gut tells me that this could be one of the biggest first round upsets, especially if Quick remains hot and Richards and Carter heat up, but with Luongo on a shorter leash and Schneider ready to take the reins, Vancouver should take this matchup. Canucks in six (4-2).
Bob Haynes Jr.: Vancouver is better everywhere but in goal by a wide margin. That makes the series close but Vancouver wins. Canucks in six (4-2).
Adam Graham: The Kings might have the stingiest defence in the NHL, but the Canucks have proven they are just as comfortable playing in, and winning, low scoring games. A perfect example of this was their 1-0 victory over the Kings two weeks ago. Canucks in five (4-1).
Tyler Altemose: Is it really an upset when the eighth seed has Jonathan Quick in net? Kings in seven (4-3).
Joe Depto: Jon Quick is good enough to steal at least a game on his own, but I have major concerns about LA’s offense. Even if Luongo or the Vancouver blue line struggles, the Canucks firepower up front should be more than enough to take down the eight-seeded Kings. Canucks in five (4-1).
Dustin Leed: I was a LA Kings hater all season long and the hate stops now. The Kings have matched Vancouver down the stretch and have been playing solid hockey, plus, the Kings might have an advantage in net. I’m giving LA respect to take it to seven games, but Canucks hold on. Canucks in seven (4-3).
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #7 San Jose Sharks
Todd Cordell: I think the Sharks will put up a pretty good fight, but the Blues elite goaltending tandem and depth in all areas will be too much. Blues in six (4-2).
Ryan Harrison: I love this Blues team. I think they have what it takes to go the distance. Blues in six (4-2).
Lukas Hardonk: Elliot & Halak as well as the Blues’ defensive system will be too much for a surprisingly bad(?) Sharks team. Blues in five games (4-1).
Rhys Richards: St. Louis edges San Jose.: San Jose gives St. Louis a run, but the suddenly deep Blues take the series. Blues in seven (4-3).
Christopher Decker: The Elliot-Halak goaltending tandem has done wonders for the Blues all season long – no reason why that, along with a stellar home record, won’t help them breeze through the first round. Blues in five (4-1).
Mike Luciano: The blues swept the Sharks in their regular season series and although San Jose has a more rounded out offense, the Blues have ridden the hottest goalie tandem in the league all season (featuring former playoff hero Jaroslav Halak). Blues in five (4-1).
Charlie O’Conner: Blues were 4-0 against San Jose during the regular season, and also the Western Conference’s best team during the regular season after accounting for strength of schedule. Blues in five (4-1).
Steve Palumbo: Defense wins championships. Blues in five (4-1).
Brendan Ross: The makings of an upset are all hear. An annually criticized Sharks team squeaks into playoff action on a hot streak (7-2-1) and meets a young, unproven Blues roster sputtering in the final games of regular season (4-3-3). As many say, do the Blues need to lose in the playoffs before they can contend? The Sharks have lost and could surprise in the 2012 playoffs. Sharks in seven (4-3).
Bob Haynes Jr.: Hitchcock has been preparing the Blues for this all year. San Jose has been disappointing and that trend continues. Blues in six (4-2).
Adam Graham: The Blues may have peaked too early and the Sharks are hot as of late. They’ve won four straight and seven of their last nine games heading into the playoffs. Sharks in seven (4-3).
Tyler Altemose: I have to think that the Blues’ superior goaltending gets them their first postseason series victory in a decade. Blues in seven (4-3).
Joe Depto: St. Louis and Ken Hitchcock deserve their success this season. It’s come through plenty of adversity and hard work. Nontheless, I like San Jose’s mix of star power and role players up front and Antti Niemi’s championship pedigree gives him a leg up over Brian Elliott, in my opinion. If Halak enters the fray and plays in 2010-esque fashion it will interesting, but I like the Sharks with an upset here. Sharks in seven (4-3).
Dustin Leed:Pacific Power. Sharks finally enter the Playoffs as an underdog and will benefit from it. Sharks are more experienced throughout their line-up and it will show. Sharks in seven (4-3).
#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #6 Chicago Blackhawks
Todd Cordell: Phoenix will give Chicago all they can handle but in the end the more talented, experienced Blackhawks team will prevail. Blackhawks in seven (4-3).
Ryan Harrison: Crawford and Emery. Enough said. Coyotes in six (4-2).
Lukas Hardonk: The ‘Hawks have experience and the offence to get it done, at least in the first round. Blackhawks in seven games (4-3).
Rhys Richards: Chicago tops Phoenix. The Blackhawks are on a roll and the return of Toews only helps. Blackhawks in five (4-1).
Christopher Decker: The Coyotes will finally make it past the first round – they deserve it. Coyotes in seven (4-3).
Mike Luciano: The Coyotes won three of four regular season match ups against the Blackhawks, but these teams haven’t met since the middle of the season. Chicago struggled with special teams this year, as did Phoenix on their power play. Keep in mind that the Coyotes are also hosting a Chicago team that struggled on the road this year but has struggled to keep a full team together at the expense of injuries. Coyotes in seven (4-3).
Charlie O’Conner: Chicago is just a far more skilled team than Phoenix, and Mike Smith won’t be enough to make up the entire difference. Blackhawks in seven (4-3).
Steve Palumbo: Another six seed that is better than the three seed…barely. Blackhawks in seven (4-3).
Brendan Ross: The Western Conference rankings are deceiving here (much like the Eastern Conference’s 3 vs 6 seed) as the Blackhawks actually earned more points than the ‘desert dogs’. The Coyotes are the hotter team entering the Stanley Cup run (7-1-2) with 5 straight wins and have been the more consistent team this season. Phoenix owns the better goaltending and it will be the difference in this series especially if the Hawks are Toews-less. Coyotes in six (4-2).
Bob Haynes Jr.: Goaltending keeps Phoenix in it but too much power on the Blackhawks for Phoenix to overcome. Blackhawks in seven (4-3).
Adam Graham: Mike Smith can win a couple of games in this series for the Coyotes, but the Blackhawks have overcome their disadvantage in goal before and they’ll do it again in this series. Blackhawks in six (4-2).
Tyler Altemose: Two words. Mike Smith. Coyotes in six (4-2).
Joe Depto: It’s hard to imagine anyone picking Phoenix in this series if Toews is healthy. Unfortunately, he isn’t. Mike Smith has been Vezina-esque for most of the season and Dave Tippett’s defensive minded approach has been more than effective against even the best teams in the league this season. Chicago’s experience keeps this one a nail-biting, but I like the desert dogs to grind their way to a victory. Coyotes in seven (4-3).
Dustin Leed: The Coyotes need to end it quickly if they want to win, but I don’t think they can. Hawks are very balanced and can make up for the difference in net. Blackhawks in six (4-2).
#4 Nashville Predators vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
Todd Cordell: I’ve tried to convince myself to pick Nashville, but I just keep going back to Detroit. Pavel Datsyuk will be special in this series. Red Wings in seven (4-3).
Ryan Harrison: Amazing matchup. I just believe in the Predators and feel the addition of Radulov will put them over the top. They need to shutdown Franzen and clear the crease for Rinne. Predators in six (4-2).
Lukas Hardonk: The Red Wings are loaded with very talented veterans who appear to be far from calling it a career and they just don’t lose at home. Red Wings in seven (4-3).
Rhys Richards: Detroit beats Nashville. Nashville is a damn good team, but playoff experience takes this one. Red Wings in six (4-2).
Christopher Decker: This isn’t the same Predators team from year’s past in which they’ve lost in the first round. Predators in seven (4-3).
Mike Luciano: The Red Wings lost out big time on securing the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Their admirable home record this season is countered with a road record in which they finished with an under .500 record. Nashville is aching to prove something in the postseason and knows a series victory over Detroit is the ultimate statement. Predators in five (4-1).
Charlie O’Conner: Tough series to call, but Nashville is icing its deepest roster of the year while Detroit is two months removed from its best hockey. Predators in six (4-2).
Steve Palumbo: Toughest series for me to call but I have to go with experience and tradition. Red Wings in seven (4-3).
Brendan Ross: Much like the Penguins and Flyers four-five matchup, the Wings and Predators feature the most anticipated series in the Western Conference. Does the addition of Radulov and the better goaltending in Rinne give the Predators enough to unseed the experienced and rested Red Wings? There is a lot riding on the success of the Predators in this post-season run with the looming free-agency of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber (2013). Red Wings in seven (4-3).
Bob Haynes Jr.: Detroit has the experience to upset Nashville. This series is too close to call so I went with experience. Red Wings in seven (4-3).
Adam Graham: Weber, Suter and Rinne are great, but the Red Wings have too much depth and have a great goalie of their own in Jimmy Howard. Detroit’s experience will be too much for a team whose best offensive player is only in it for the money. Red Wings in six (4-2).
Tyler Altemose: If the Preds can get past the Red Wings I have them going on a deep playoff run. Predators in seven (4-3).
Joe Depto: Besides Pittsburgh/Philadelphia, this might be the most intriguing series in the whole dance. Detroit’s lineup has holes, but when the team is firing on all cylinders, they can dominate like the Detroit teams that have lauded throughout history. Nashville’s trade deadline acquisitions should payoff and ensure that this one goes no less than seven. Ultimately, I like Detroit’s mix of cup winning pedigree and star power. Red Wings in seven (4-3)
Dustin Leed:Going to be a beauty series. Ultimately I give Detroit the edge because of experience. Red Wings in seven (4-3)
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Todd Cordell: Penguins over Red Wings in seven : Detroit and Pittsburgh renew their rivalry in the Stanley Cup Finals with the Penguins prevailing for the second consecutive time.
Ryan Harrison: Blues Stanley Cup Champs – Hitchcock has really made the Blues into a team that has too much grit and defense, not forgetting the best 1/1a goalie tandem (yes better than Luongo and Schneider).
Lukas Hardonk: Boston Bruins. Yes, a repeat. The Bruins’ goaltending duo of Thomas and Rask as well as their depth just never fails to amaze me. Also, is it fair to say that they don’t have to worry about a terrible power play this post-season?
Rhys Richards: A re-match of Detroit and New Jersey that Detroit takes in six.
Christopher Decker: Blues in seven over the Rangers. Both teams are in the top three in the NHL in goals against and in the end, it will be the goaltending that gets these two teams to the promised land.
Mike Luciano: Rangers in six games over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Charlie O’Conner: Blues take the battle of the final two teams that Wayne Gretzky played for.
Steve Palumbo: Rangers over Blues in six games.
Bob Haynes Jr.: Canucks over Rangers in six.
Adam Graham: Pittsburgh and Vancouver. The two most skilled teams, with plenty of grit to boot, will ultimately decide who wins hockey’s holy grail. If the key players for both teams are still healthy at the end of it all, this series is a pick ’em and I’m picking the team with home-ice advantage. The Canucks can’t lose two Game Sevens in a row on their home ice in the Stanley Cup Finals, can they? Vancouver in seven.
Tyler Altemose: Nashville Predators. That is all. Their defense in front of Rinne is scary. throw in Radulov up front and I think you have a solid recipe for Cup Champion-caliber squad.
Joe Depto: Penguins over Red Wings in six.
Dustin Leed: Winged Wheel versus da Bears. I think Detroit meets Boston in the Cup Final and the Red Wings take it from the Big Bad B’s.