Since I’ve already learned about the Eastern Conference, I figured I was contractually obligated to talk about the West. (No East Coast bias, here.) All of these series have been absolute wars. In fact if I were to tell a non-hockey or casual hockey fan to watch one non-Stanley Cup Final series, I’d tell them to watch the Blackhawks-Blues series.
Let’s not waste any more time and get right into it.
Colorado vs. Minnesota
What we’ve learned from Colorado: The Avs are a good, young team. However, they’re missing one of their top players in Matt Duchene. Colorado has shown flashes of the team that won the Central, but have also shown flashes that they’re still a bit green. Patrick Roy has gotten this inexperienced team far, but they need to show why the Avalanche are a better team.
What we’ve learned from Minnesota: The Wild are a resilient bunch. A lot people (including me) thought this would be an easy series for the Avalanche. However, I keep forgetting the Wild have a lot of heart and dominated game four to tie the series. Minnesota may not win the series, but they’ve already achieved more than I thought.
St. Louis vs. Chicago
What we’ve learned from St. Louis: The Blues aren’t who we thought they were… well… at least on defense. Many had St. Louis as a darkhorse to win the Stanley Cup. (EA Sports did in their Stanley Cup simulation at the beginning of the year.) The Blues D hasn’t been as good as advertised, and that has them on the brink of elimination. That Jonathan Toews OT winner was a product of a sloppy line change.
What we’ve learned from Chicago: They’re just like Freddy or Jason and that they won’t die. The Blues had a 2-0 series lead and were close to taking a 3-1 in game four. However, the Hawks got the break they needed to win in overtime of game five. The Blackhawks will be a tough out this postseason after cleaning up the rough play in the first two games.
Anaheim vs. Dallas
What we’ve learned from Anaheim: Usually when a team loses a top blueliner in Stephane Robidas, that team struggles. However, the Ducks have plenty of depth to deal with it. They’ve got an embarrassment of riches at defensemen and in goal as Frederick Andersen has supplanted long-time goalie Jonas Hiller. The old adage about the “next man in” rings true for Anaheim.
What we’ve learned from Dallas: They’ve got a good base, but need more depth if they want to become a threat in the Central Division. Jamie Been and Tyler Seguin have carried this team, but the duo can’t do it alone. I like where the team is headed, but they need to make some acquisitions if they want to keep going.
San Jose vs. Los Angeles
What we’ve learned from San Jose: The Sharks speed has them looking to shake the underachiever label. San Jose has had the reputation for not being able to close when it matters most. However, their team speed has Los Angeles on their heels. They’re fast and get to the puck. Los Angeles made adjustments in game four, but had to work for it. Anti Niemi needs to stay strong in net.
What we’ve learned from Los Angeles: The Kings aren’t dead until they’re buried. Los Angeles had their backs against the wall in game four, but routed San Jose. The Kings finally got some scoring from Dustin Brown and got some solid goaltending from the struggling Jonathan Quick. However, there’s no room for error for them. The defense needs to give Quick some help pouncing on the rebounds and they need to negate the speed of the Sharks.
That’s it for today. I’ll have more stuff from the NHL playoffs later on. Take care.
Dan Mount is an NHL communist for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, NY and is on Twitter @DanMountSports.