2012 Stanley Cup Predictions: Western Conference Playoffs, Round 1

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2012 Stanley Cup Predictions: Western Conference Playoffs, Round 1
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Campbell Trophy goes to the Western Conference champion

With the trade deadline in the rear-view mirror, the final five-plus weeks of the NHL season comes a little bit more into focus.

There were 15 trades in the final hours—almost a record-low, but still more than any other sport usually has. There were also 15 more in the previous two weeks.

Predicting anything before knowing where the final chips will fall is a fool's errand. With tight divisional races in the Pacific and Central Divisions and fewer than three games separating six teams fighting for the final seed before the deadline, knowing which teams made what moves is essential to an accurate forecast.

Now the only variables in the makeup of teams come from injuries. We know the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators helped themselves most in the final two weeks. We know that the big shopping sprees expected from the disappointing San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks did not happen.

So knowing what we know, who will match up against whom; which teams will advance and how far?

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