NHL Playoffs: Western Conference round one preview (1)

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The Western Conference standings were extremely tight this season and the playoffs are sure to be no different.

Here is a list of players to watch out for throughout round one.

Colorado vs. Minnesota

This promises tolbe a fabulous series to watch with both teams exhibiting explosive speed, exceptional goaltending and great scoring abilities to date this campaign.

The Minnesota Wild spent a lot of money to bring in Zack Parise, Ryan Suter and Jason Pominiville this year and these guys have carried the team all season long accumulating a combined total of 170 points.

Add to that the great skills of Mikko Koviu and Danny Heatley, and Minnesota are set up to provide Colorado with a very tough challenge.

But don't discount Colorado too soon - the Avalanche roster has plenty of star talent as well.

This team has fed off the energy provided by head coach Patrick Roy all season.

Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly have led the way in scoring for this team, accumulating a combined total of 199 points as they tore apart opposition defense with their explosive speed.

Paul Stastny, Jamie McGinn and Erik Johnson have been in great form all year as well.

Both these teams have wonderful scoring ability and it’s hard to pinpoint weaknesses in these talented squads.

However, I do believe that the Colorado Avalanche have far more depth within their roster.

The goaltending battle between Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Ilya Bryzgalov will be quite entertaining - Giguere, in my eyes, is far better than Bryzgalov, and the Avalanche could exploit the goaltenders inconsistency.

As we all know anything can happen when it comes to Bryzgalov and Minnesota will be hoping he doesn't prove the weak link. 

Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues

This will be the best series in round one within the west in my opinion.

You’ve got the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks up against the most consistent team in the west, St. Louis Blues.

The question will be is the addition of Ryan Miller to the Blues going to pay off for the St. Louis Blues?

Alexander Steen, T.J. Oshie and David Backes have led the way for this team. This top line of the Blues has tallied 179 points this season and I believe the roster for this team has been the most balanced and affective this season.

Last year’s Stanley Cup champions need no introduction.

Jonathan Teows, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp will be ready for the upcoming challenge and the veteran presence of Marion Hossa will continue to help calm the nerves of this team.

After all, they will be under tremendous pressure to repeat last year’s victory.

I believe the battle between Ryan Miller and Corey Crawford will be one of the best match-ups in the playoffs.

With the action set to get underway this week it will certainly be interesting to see how the two series pan out...

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Saint Louis Blues
Minnesota Wild
Colorado Avalanche
Chicago Blackhawks

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