Today we finish up the first round of the playoffs with our Western Conference picks. Yesterday's Eastern Conference picks can be peeped here.
(1) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Colorado Avalanche
I got an email the other day. It was written last April, and it was from myself, arranged to be sent to me the first week of April, 2010. It said "DON'T PICK THE SHARKS!".
And yet, here I go again.
It's different this time, though...last year, the Sharks lost to a Ducks team that had scratched and clawed to get into the playoffs over the last few weeks of the season, while San Jose cruised to the President's Trophy. They were ripe for the picking. This year, they face an Avalanche squad that is backsliding, desperate, and hanging on by it's fingernails. They've made a valiant run all season, but the clock is about to strike midnight. There's no way to expect this gritty group of youngsters to overcome all the Sharks' firepower At least, that's what I'll tell myself when Colorado sends San Jose packing. Why do I never learn? Sharks in six.
(2) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (7) Nashville Predators
The young Blackhawks were ahead of schedule last season, reaching the Western Conference finals before losing to the Red Wings, and despite multiple attempts to jinx their team with premature celebratory wall murals and t-shirts, the teams seems poised to take the next step. On the other side of the ledger are the Predators, who always seem to be in the mix but never much of a threat to actually go anywhere. The people of Chicago seem to believe. Do the Hawks? Blackhawks in five.
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) Los Angeles Kings
A few weeks back, I had a vision of Vancouver and Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals. A lot less sure about that matchup now. The Canucks seem to have it all going for them, but for some reason I feel like the Kings can pull off the win in a long series here, for several reasons: They have "The Piece", Rob Scuderi. I have to pick at least one true upset. And, I find those Sedin twins so goddamn creepy. Kings in seven.
(4) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings
Wow, is there a better story in the NHL this year than the success of the Coyotes? They went from being unsure if they'd even be playing in Phoenix to notching 100+ points and making the playoffs for the first time in 8 years. Unfortunately, like many great stories, it's far better on paper than on film, as anyone who's sat through a Coyotes game this season can attest. They play a style even more boring than the Red Wings', which is no small feat. That the teams are scheduled to play two nationally-televised first-round games on NBC oughta squeeze that last bit of interest out of the Gold Medal game balloon. Ambien on ice. Red Wings in six.
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