The Regular season is over and only sixteen teams remain in the hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Welcome everyone I am your hockey know it all Johnny Violence, and this is what you have all been waiting for. The NHL playoffs kick of Wednesday night and with the drop of the puck begins a grueling two month process to determine who gets their names engraved on the fabled cup.


Today we will breakdown the west and tomorrow I will give the entire landscape with cup predictions. So let’s jump into the west.

 

The western conference all year has been ruled by four teams. The Flames, The Jets, The Predators, and The Sharks. Everyone else has been good and bad at points this season. Which makes this conference hard to figure out. Mainly because a lot of the top dogs are not playing there best hockey headed into the postseason. So here is how I see it breaking out.

Flames_Vs_Aves.jpg

The future of the NHL will be on display as the Western Conference Regular Season Champions take on the best line in hockey. This matchup will be fast, high scoring and since Matthew Tkachuk is there it will be nasty. Hard to pick against the Flames. They just over power the Ave’s in every category except one. Goaltending has been a mixed bag for the Flames when they are good their great when their bad they are terrible. Where as the Avalanche have two guys who can not just steal games but with a little luck an entire series. Calvin Pickard will most likely get the nod. Between him and MacKinnon you could see the Ave’s stealing at least two games. If they can win game one in Calgary all bets are off. With that being said I like the Flames. I hope they make a deep run this year. Flames in 6.

Preds_Vs_Stars

The Nashville Predators are all in this year. They were active in free agency. They were active at the deadline. They have done everything from a personnel standpoint to strengthen this squad. Overall they are deeper than the Stars. Their defense is the best D-core in hockey. And if Pekka can get his head on straight they could be standing tall in the conference finals.

For Dallas’s part in this they are red hot. They seem to finally have two lines that can score. Pair that with a hot goalie this team could knock off a team struggling to find their identity. Hard to say but I think depth and experience go a long way in the postseason. Smashville in 7.

Sharks_vs_Knights

The Sharks are technically the higher ranked team in this series. They have more points, they are higher in the standings. They should be the odds favorite to win this series. However no one believes that. The Sharks have so much talent on their roster it makes your head spin. But they have one glaring hole in their game. Martin Jones was once billed as the next great goalie. It turns out he’s like the next ok goalie. At times he is average but normally he is bad. With that being said Jones showed flashes of brilliance in 2017 to help propel the Sharks to the cup final. However when met a serious offensive opponent in the Pittsburgh Penguins he and the rest of the Sharks folded like a wet paper bag.

The Golden Knights are more stacked than that Pittsburgh roster was. They are younger, faster, and play with more edge than any other team in this post seasons. Their top six maybe the best top six in hockey. Their goalie is a one man highlight reel who can steal games at the drop of a dime. They are the scariest team in the West.

So with all that being said. Knights in 4.

Jets_vs_Blues

The Winnipeg Jets are having an identity crisis. After adding at the deadline they have never found their grove. Paul Maurice is running out of ideas to right the ship. If there was even another week for the Jets to figure their shit out they would have a chance. However the postseason starts Wednesday. And their opponent is playing their best hockey. Jordan Binnington is this year’s Jaroslav Halak. Their roster finally believes in itself. And a healthy Tarasenko spells trouble for everyone. Blues in 7.

 

All of these prediction could easily end up going the other way. The West does not have that Tampa Bay team that is heads and shoulders above everyone else. So it maybe worth staying up a little later on the West Coast to catch some truly awesome hockey.

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Written by Johnny Violence

The lead NHL/Hockey writer for Thoughts From The Bench.

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