NHL Network Manager – Randy Holt
Similar to the 4/5 matchup in the Eastern Conference, this one features a pair of division rivals with a team that many are predicting to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. That team is the Nashville Predators. Not only are they one of the toughest defensive squads in the NHL, courtesy of guys like Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne between the pipes, but they’ve added the offensive talent to go along with it. The big name there is, of course, Alexander Radulov, who has returned from the KHL to join the Preds on what is expected to be their first really deep run into the postseason.
They’ll meet a Red Wings squad that has had the good fortune of matching up against the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round the past two postseasons, before a major letdown in the second round. There’s no doubting the talent of guys like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, as well as Jimmy Howard, who has had a breakout season, but it’s really hard to see them being able to pull four games out against Nashville, though the other teams in the West are likely hoping that they can.
Prediction: Nashville in 6.