|Vegas (51-24-7, 109 points)|
|Los Angeles (45-29-8, 98 points)|
The Kings and Golden Knights have played each other four times this year, in which the season series is tied at 2-2, the last time they played was on February 27, a lot has changed for these two in that time so we can expect a different result then regular season play showed. The Kings are seeming to be the favorite here, with Williams Jennings trophy winner Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar being a Hart candidate, plus winning a Stanley Cup in the last six years. The Kings have a very solid, deep offensive group, while their defense is arguably the best top four in the league. With Anze Kopitar going from a 50 point season to a 90 point season and Dustin Brown turning his career around(sort of) the Kings come into this game as everyone’s favorite. We cannot discredit Vegas though one of the top five teams in the league, coming into the playoffs is the story of this league and winning the Pacific division their first year in the NHL. This Vegas team has been quite the story, with a veteran goaltender and two-time Stanley Cup champion, plus James Neal and other pieces they have on the front end, this team will be put to test in the playoffs. A lot of questions remain unanswered as to how this Vegas offense will perform come playoff time, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault with little playoff experience will be tested to see if they can continue their tear. This series I have to go Kings in seven.
|Anaheim (44-25-13, 101 points)|
|San Jose (45-27-10, 100 points)|
This is going to make for an interesting series, two California teams going head to head in the battle of which team is Cali’s team. The Ducks and Sharks have met in the regular season four times in which three went to a shootout. Let’s just say this series is going seven. The Ducks and Sharks have met in the playoffs though just one time in 2008-2009 in which Anaheim won 4-2. The Sharks have been on a roll as of late since acquiring Evander Kane their offense has been quite the story and a hard group to contain. Plus one of the most consistent and reliable goaltenders in the league Martin Jones. Jones does not get as much credit as he should and I think he is the difference maker in this series for San Jose, they match up offensively, or some may argue the Ducks have a deeper offensive group and defensive group. But the Ducks are battling some injuries on the backend with Cam Fowler out and John Gibson questionable. The Sharks will rely on Jones to help them through this series, these two match up very well, but Anaheim comes off as the better team on paper. Luckily that means nothing and it comes down to heart and will come this time of year. This series I have to go San Jose in seven.
|Nashville (53-18-11, 117 points)|
|Colorado (43-30-9, 95 points)|
This is probably one of the easier first-round matchups, not to discredit Colorado but the Predators are going to be impossible to beat int he first round after sniffing the Cup last year and being President trophy winners this year, this team is on a mission and I don’t think anyone is getting in their way. The Avalanche and Predators have met four times this season in which the Predators won all four. On paper, the Predators are the better team and with a Vezina favorite and veteran goaltender in net vs Jonathan Bernier and his five games, playoff experience should be enough right there to determine this series. The Predators have the depth up front, the depth on the back end, the experience, in all facets they are the better team. Colorado will make it tough on these guys but at the end of the day the Predators will come out on top. Amazing to see what this Colorado team has done after having one fo the worst season in the past 15 years, to turn it around and make a playoff run. Kudos to them, but this is a positive sign for the group, just right now is not their time. Predators in five.
|Winnipeg (52-20-10, 114 points)|
|Minnesota (45-26-11, 101 points)|
The #2 and #3 seed in the division matchups always make for a great battle. The Jets come off the same as Nashville they are a dominant team up and down the lineup, they have the skill in all facets of the ice to dominate games. The Jets and Wild met in the regular season four times in which the Jets have the series advantage 3-1. The Wild are coming into this series with not much to lose, they know they are the underdog and will use that to fuel their play. The Wild have seen some offensive production out of nowhere from Eric Staal and with their depth, on the front end, it will be a big help to match this Jets team. The part that kills the Wild is that Ryan Suter is out for the playoffs and he has been someone that eats the most minutes and that leader on the back end for Minnesota. With him out Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon will be called upon big time. The Jets have arugably the best top-9 in the league, plus with an established goaltender, they have that reassurance in net. If their back end can hold up and play a simple game this team will be fine. The Jets are the favorites for many reasons and it is not a surprise this team is a favorite as they should win and will win. This series I’m going Jets in six.