San Jose (1) vs Anaheim (8)
From the very beginning of the season San Jose have been my Stanley Cup pick and I think that their 1st round matchup against the Ducks may be their biggest hurdle. Both teams are built fairly similar with a big group of forwards, some really skilled scorers and good goalies. The Ducks made a lot of moves at the deadline that made them look like sellers, but here they are in the first round with a legit shot at pulling what many would call an upset. But, I think that the Sharks are too strong all around to not win this series. They have the better goalie in Nabokov and their offense is just as if not more potent than the Ducks. The one area were the Ducks probably have an advantage is on the blue line where they have Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, but Dan Boyle & Rob Blake aren't too shabby either. Prediction: Sharks in 6 (maybe 7).
Detroit (2) vs Columbus (7)
I don't think that Columbus will be favored by any of the experts and it's obvious why - it's their first ever playoff appearance and they have the luck of playing the defending Stanley Cup Champions in the first round. Don't forget that Blue Jackets were 2-3-1 vs. Detroit this season. Detroit are clearly superior offensively, but the Blue Jackets are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. If rookie goaltender Steve Mason can continue to play the way he has all season for Columbus then the Blue Jackets have a clear advantage there over Detorit who haven't gotten consistent goaltending all season. In the end, I think that the team with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Hossa & Lidstrom will prevail. Prediction: Detroit in 6
Vancouver (3) vs. St.Louis (6)
St.Louis battled hard to finish the season and many thought that they weren't even going to make the playoffs, nevermind climb to 6th in the West. The teams split the season series two games a piece. However, the Canucks are one of the better teams in the West and I just can't see the Blues beating Vancouver - especially if Roberto Luongo is on his game. Neither team has much silverware on their roster, not one Canuck has a Stanley Cup ring, while only two players on the Blues roster do (Hinote, McDonald). Prediction: Canucks in 6
Chicago (4) vs. Calgary (5)
This is the one series in the West that in my opinion could easily go either way (depiste the fact that Chicago won all four games this season) and could be determined by who gets the better goaltending. Kiprusoff has started a ton of games, while Khabibulin has been really hot down the stretch. Calgray added some weapons at the deadline but I still fancy the Blackhawks in this one - they have the talent up front and between the pipes to take the series. Despite the fact that this one could eaisly go either way, I think that this will be the quickest series in the West, either way. The one player in the series besides the goaltenders who could really steal the show is the Flames' Jarome Iginla. Prediction: Chicago in 5