Friday, May 15, 2015

2015 Stanley Cup Playoff Preview - Western Conference Final

The 2nd round in the West featured two one-sided series where the higher seed dominated the lower seed. The series went as follows:

Anaheim Ducks defeat Calgary Flames 4-1
Chicago Blackhawks defeat Minnesota Wild 4-0

I went 2/2 as I picked both Anaheim and Chicago (11/12 in the playoffs).

Here's a look at the Western Conference Finals:

#1 Anaheim Ducks vs. #3 Chicago Blackhawks

Season Series: Chicago won the season series 2-1-0

October 28, 2014: Anaheim Ducks 1, Chicago Blackhawks 0

November 28, 2014: Chicago Blackhawks 4, Anaheim Ducks 1
January 30, 2015: Chicago Blackhawks 4, Anaheim Ducks 1

Players to Watch:

Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, Sami Vatanen, Matt Beleskey

Chicago: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell


Ryan Getzlaf

Jonathan Toews

Playoff Leaders:

Goals: Corey Perry - 7 (ANA), Patrick Kane - 7 (CHI)
Assists: Ryan Getzlaf - 10 (ANA), Duncan Keith - 8 (CHI)
Points: Corey Perry - 15 (ANA), Patrick Kane - 13 (CHI)
Wins: Frederik Andersen - 8 (ANA), Corey Crawford - 5 (CHI)

Series Notes:
-The Hawks won the season series 2-1-0, outscoring the Ducks 8-2 in those 3 games.

-The Hawks enter this series having swept the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in dominant fashion.
-The Ducks enter this series having beaten the Calgary Flames 4-1.
-This has the potential to be an incredible series, in my opinion the best 2 teams in the NHL right now.
-The Ducks need Frederik Andersen to be at the top of his game in this series, he wasn't really tested by the Jets or Flames in the previous rounds but the Hawks are much more potent on offense. 
-The Ducks will need a 4-line attack to beat the Hawks, they haven't faced a defensive group like the one in Chicago and will have a harder time scoring in bunches like they did in previous rounds.
-The Ducks need their offensive defenseman to step up big time, the Hawks have Keith and Seabrook who can consistently jump into the play. This means guys like Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm must take the opportunity to step up and make a name for themselves.
-Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry must continue their strong play as well, these guys will be counted on heavily. 
-Ryan Kesler will also have a lot of responsibility in the series, his line of him Silfverberg and Cogliano has been a force so far and will need to be in this series too. Both teams have a strong top 6 so those will be key match ups to look forward to in the series.
-Ryan Getzlaf vs. Jonathan Toews center match up is going to be fun to watch. Watching both of these guys on Team Canada in 2010 and 2014 shows how good the depth Canada has at Center, but in my opinion these guys are the two best leaders in the NHL today. 
-The Hawks need Corey Crawford to continue his strong play from the Minnesota series, he struggled in round 1 against the Predators but regained his confidence against the Wild and looks like the Stanley Cup-winning goalie he was in 2013.
-Chicago needs to match the Ducks depth on forward in this series, they need their secondary guys to contribute. That means guys like Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, and Brad Richards (3 goals combined) need to step up. The Ducks have a lot of strong depth guys beyond their top players, guys like Matt Beleskey, Emerson Etem, Rickard Rakell and Pat Maroon (12 goals combined).
-As the Ducks rely on Getzlaf/Perry duo, the Hawks will rely on Toews/Kane to carry them. 
-The Hawks will need more out of both Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa in this series (5 goals combined in 10 games).
-Look for the Hawks top 4 (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Johnny Oduya) to be very busy in this series, especially with the loss of Michal Rozsival on D. Duncan Keith will continue to log around 30 minutes of icetime a night, the guy does it all for the Hawks and more.
-The teams have never met in the playoffs before

Prediction: This has the potential to be a ridiculously good series, one that could be as intense as Chicago/Los Angeles from last year. It is really tough to predict who will win this series, I could see either team winning. However, I have been saying Ducks to the Cup all season so I am sticking with it now


This means the Anaheim Ducks will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals as the Western Conference Champions

-Joel Forman - The Forman Faceoff

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