NHL Playoffs 2015: Western Conference round one predictions

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With the NHL Playoffs set to begin tonight there is no better time than now to get the lowdown on what to expect.

The NHL’s Western Conference playoff matchups will provide some very entertaining hockey.

However, this year it’s quite difficult to choose a winner. Regardless, here are some predictions to to consider before the series hit the ice

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Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames

This series alone has the potential to destroy many fans’ playoff bracket predictions. On the one side, there is a Vancouver Canucks team that has depended on their top line, veteran players to get them to this point.

The Calgary Flames have done the exact opposite and have relied on youth and speed to get them to their first playoff appearance since 2009. The Flames have a total of 14 young players on their squad that have no playoff experience. This presents a huge advantage for the Canucks.

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However, the Canucks goaltending situation presents an opportunity for the Flames. Canuck’s starting goalie Ryan Miller will likely not play in game one, all the pressure gets put on backup Eddie Lack. Therefore if the Flames can win the first game, they could take the series.

Prediction: Canucks win series 4-2

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators

With Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane back in the line up, it’s difficult to see how the Predators can win the series. But players like Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Colin Wilson will be quite a challenge for the Blackhawks too.Wilson alone had 42 points on the season for Nashville this season.

The combined experience of veteran forwards Mike Fisher, Matt Cullen and Mike Ribeiro will help the younger players deal with the pressure as well. This series is one that’ll come down to the goaltending battle between Blackhawk’s Corey Crawford and Nashville’s Pekke Rinne.

Prediction: Chicago wins series 4-3

Anaheim Ducks vs. Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets will be eager to cause a massive upset in Anaheim. The Jets have had tremendous success under the guidance and instruction of head Coach Paul Maurice. Winnipeg finished the season with 99 points and will be starting a playoff campaign for only the second time in franchise history.

The last time this team made the playoffs was in 2007 as the Atlanta Thrashers. With the experience of defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and the speed of Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele, the Jets could easily upset the Ducks. However, the combined playoff experience of Duck’s forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf could easily carry the Ducks through.

Prediction Ducks win series 4-2

St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild have been carried into this playoff campaign by their goalie Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk came to the Wild and posted a record of 28-9-3. This guy was a backup goalie everywhere else he’s played, but with the Wild, he’s been reborn. But going up against the Blues will be no easy task.

However, the Wild do have substantial depth within their roster with Mikael Granlund, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek. But the Blues have some offensive weapons of their own in T.J. Oshie, David Backes, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz.

Therefore, this series presents a true heavyweight battle. The point total for these eight players alone is well over 100. However, the Blues do have a much stronger defensive lineup with Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bowmeester. Pietrangelo tallied 40 points this past season and shows no sign of stopping.

Therefore, it’s difficult to see the Wild winning this series, but it’s sure to be one of the most entertaining round one matchups.

Prediction: St. Louis wins series 4-2

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Vancouver Canucks
Anaheim Ducks
Saint Louis Blues
Calgary Flames
NHL Playoffs
Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
Chicago Blackhawks

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