Here is my look at the Western Conference. West is the only Conference with 2 teams having a minus in differential. Also, the surprise of San Jose getting the boot, due to inactivity, giving Arizona another chance at a Cinderella playoff run. Let’s get into the match ups.
Two familiar first round opponents. Last year they went head to head in an epic battle. Calgary came out on top in that battle. Once again they are even statistically, they are essentially the same team. It’s hard to pick one but I can’t imagine this series not going 7 games. Can we just have them play over and over for eternity? During the regular season Vegas came out on top 3 wins to 2 losses, with no team winning by more than one goal.
On the Calgary side, they will once again look to Akonvict21 and his 161 points this season, a plus 94 and 365 hits. While their PSN names have changed Xvishh and Gucci__Gui are familiar faces on this Calgary squad. Vishh with 116 points, 80 of which were assists. Gucci had 96 Goals with his 179 points. As you look down the roster Xshaun88 with 73 points and coriis88 with 34 points.
On defense you have dparans who is a plus 111, who decided to double his plus minus in hits with 222. IceAJ420 is only a plus 38 with 23 points this year. The heavy defensive workload will come from dparans. The production drops as you go down the defensive depth chart.
Finally in net, you have Vezina candidate in Snipeshotty, with his .848 save percentage. He was a big part of the 89% penalty kill. He will see a ton of shots going up against this Vegas squad.
In Vegas, Relinquished_71, speaking of name changes, leads the way with 202 points. Vegas can match the physicality of Calgary, with Relinquished having 231 hits. BillXhicksOGT19 is another guy to watch with 135 points, 77 of them being assists. Lastly, prodigytolegend has 122 points and 150 hits this year. One angle to keep an eye out on is the reuniting of prod and Stonerboy. This tandem helped Florida push through the playoffs last year. Another guy who could be impactful is screddx91 who had 94 points this season.
On Defense you have the-statistician, leading the way with 75 points, averaging just over 1 point per game. Joining him on the backline is |JR95| with 35 points and a plus 68 and Snake_-_Plisskin back in the West with 28 points.
In net you have Wonderrocket_9, a guy who wants to play every game, with his .834 save percentage. It will be curious, last year Carbor123 was brought on to fix the Vegas goal-tending, this year he appears to be just the back up.
Going to lean toward Vegas in this one. I was wrong last year, I’m hoping they prove me right this year. It was fun to watch last year, let’s see if Vegas can win it in 7.
This is not the same Winnipeg team we saw last year. Offensively, they are down in scoring. Defensively they appear to be similar to last year’s squad. St Louis is one of the two teams in the West with a minus differential. Season series saw Winnipeg sweep St Louis. Special teams are struggling with both teams, Winnipeg being the less penalized of the two could have a big advantage here.
Winnipeg is led by Kred_14 with his 127 points. Pretty even split between goals and assists and a 54.6% in the face-offs. Another player to watch is Alexander1032 who surprisingly only put up 94 points. Still averaged 2.19 ppg and had a plus 35. Rounding out the top three forwards you have Docholliday2681 with 63 points. After the top forwards the points per game really drops, they will rely heavily on these three guys.
On defense you have Bombermanuxo with 36 points and a plus 17. Carter_11-C with 27 points, he is the hitter with 212 this season. Liquidlunch80 with 27 games played and BossRoss_FD with 19 games played round out the defense.
In net, the return of Acer1719, one of the few goalies with a losing record. Currently sitting at a .807 save percentage, he will have to play better in the playoffs.
On the St Louis side they will have to fix the -2 differential. Up front they have Hockeygab_20 with 162 points a 2.70 ppg and a plus 20. NoRegrets27 is another guy to watch with 125 points and 156 hits. AgedEmbryo rounds out the top three with 16 points and 178 hits.
On Defense, you have Burns-34 with his 247 hits and 66 points this year. The other defense-man of note is Noblood77, with 18 points this year and a plus 14.
In net you have cgiroux11, struggling with a .797 save percentage. Cgiroux11 and Soulx_the_Scythe appear to be splitting the goal-tending. Soulx with a .766 save percentage.
They were swept in the regular season, I can’t see much changing. Too many problem areas for St Louis. If they fix them, the result might be different. Otherwise Winnipeg in 4.
Arizona got the surprise of being in the playoffs when, at seasons end, they were out. This year, I’m not too confident about my Frenchizona Coyotes. That Cinderella moment may end with getting in the playoffs. LA dominates almost every category, the physical side could be the only real positive for Arizona. With the amount of hits, seems to come a lot of PIMs. That will be bad news against an LA squad that has a strong special teams. The season series, up until the last game, went LA’s way. Is that 4-1 loss late in the season a sign of things to come?
In LA you have the stalwart in Tmills71, with his 158 points, 95 are assists. If you didn’t know, the offense goes through him. Rv_clutchz rounds out the top two with 145 points with 88 being goals. So that’s who Tmills is passing to. Finally, you have Rollerpig647 with 125 points and 215 hits. Nice balance, if they are on a line together, Mills passes, Clutchz scores, and Roller rolls some heads.
On Defense, you have Rbcressor with 61 points this year and a strong plus 73 with 200 hits. BakonBlitz a familiar name in LA, had another decent year with 35 points and 225 hits. In net you have chadkillz134 with a .837 save percentage but they have a solid second goalie in xEKANE_9x with a .824 save percentage.
Arizona brings a very similar lineup back to this year’s playoffs. It is really amazing that they can keep that many guys from last year’s team on this roster. Up front you have perry1978 with 126 pots and a 2.86 points per game. Maxx_20 had 106 points this year with 2.30 points per game and 146 hits. Finally you have king17kong with 93 points, averaging 2.07 per game and 177 hits. Most of the offense comes from the forwards.
On Defense, you have GunitQC, MakSeemQC and LePigeonFou. Combined these guys’ average about 22 points this year. Not saying they are one dimensional, but they focus on defense. In net you have a name from last year, Titprout who is sporting a .816 save percentage.
As I said to start, I think the Coyotes have used all their luck to get into the playoffs. They are a good group of guys, I just don’t see this going past 5. Kings in 5.
Minnesota was the top team in the Central. Great job turning that franchise around. The season series is titled in Vancouver’s direction winning two of the three match-ups. Although, the last time these two teams met it was a 7-3 win for Minnesota. Biggest difference between these two clubs is Vancouver doesn’t shoot enough, Minnesota does and scores a lot.
For Minnesota the offense goes through three people, Mattkiinnoo, Insane_Hellfire and Skillszy. Mattkiinnoo had 127 goals this year, with 230 points. Insane_hellfire had 195 points, with 144 being assists. Finally, Skillszy brings the balance, with 171 points, not much difference in goals vs assists.
On Defense, it’s more offense, with the top point getter among defense-men, Rharmer3 and his 99 points. This guy had 5 goals in one game, 5! from a defense-man. I’ll mention zimDman and his 23 points, but let’s be honest when it comes to Minnesota defense there is only one guy to talk about.
In net you have ciulla19, with his .802 save percentage. This will need to improve, if there is one thing I know about ciulla, he is a playoff performer.
Vancouver is almost a polar opposite when it comes to offense. No one guy on their team cracked 100 points. Leading the way were Ninja-Hertl-48 with 76 points, xtoastyQCx with 68 points and a plus 30, finally Dptickler with 31 points.
On defense, you have the stay at home defenseman in fulltrottle911 with 24 points and 39 hits. The other two guys who get a ton of games played, like to play physical. Sales-_-Majestes with 167 hits and boumboum77 with 171 hits.
Due to the lack of offense, Ucantcme_kamakaz has to be on his game. So far this year he has with .852 save percentage.
PREDICTION: It’s tempting to predict an upset here. Vancouver is enough of a sleeper that I’d consider it. However, I think Minnesota has too much offense, Minnesota in 5.