NHL Network Manager – Randy Holt
If you love defense, you’re probably pretty excited with the two Western Conference Semifinal matchups. None of the four teams remaining have ever hoisted a Stanley Cup, but all looked poised to do so this year. The St. Louis Blues are the highest remaining seed and will meet the eight seed Los Angeles Kings in the second round. The Blues easily dispatched of the San Jose Sharks while the Kings did the same with the Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks.
This is going to be a defensive struggle, but I like the Kings to complete their second straight upset in this series. They’re finally playing like the team they were expected to be at the beginning of the year, and are just barely better than St. Louis between the pipes, with Jonathan Quick, that any sort of offense should carry them to a series victory.
In the other series, the Nashville Predators, a popular Western Conference Champion pick, will square off against the Phoenix Coyotes, fresh off of their first playoff series victory since they moved to the desert. Just like the Blues/Kings matchup, you have a pair of elite goaltenders in Pekka Rinne for the Preds and Mike Smith for the Coyotes. Don’t expect much offense in this series, unless the Preds can finally find a way to get inside of Smith’s head. It hasn’t happened yet, but if they can this series will be a breeze for Nashville. However, on the flip side, if they don’t want to outwork the Coyotes, like the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t want to, then it’s going to be very difficult for them to put the Yotes away.