Vancouver Canucks (1) vs Los Angeles Kings (8)
Key Matchup: Roberto Luongo (Canucks) vs Jonathan Quick (Kings)
Two excellent goalies will be dueling in the first round, but that might make this a boring series from a scoring perspective
Prediction: Canucks in six games
The Kings have underachieved all season long and had to squeak into the playoffs in the final week of the season.
The Canucks, on the other hand, have been waiting for the playoffs to start since last June and coasted through the regular season while still winning the Presidents' Trophy for a second consecutive year.
Unless the Kings suddenly remember how to score, this will be a short series.
St Louis Blues (2) vs San Jose Sharks (7)
Key Matchup: David Backes (Blues) vs Joe Thornton (Sharks)
Both are huge centres with good hands. One of them is physical and likes to play the body, and the other doesn't. Look for Backes to outperform his counterpart in a physical series.
Prediction: Blues in five games
The Sharks only scored three goals in four games as the Blues swept the regular season series. No reason to think the Sharks will suddenly find a will to battle now.
Phoenix Coyotes (3) vs Chicago Blackhawks (6)
Key Matchup: Mike Smith (Coyotes) vs Marian Hossa (Blackhawks)
Like Bryzgalov before him, Smith is the reason the Coyotes are in the playoffs. Can Hossa continue to be a playoff beast and get some goals in a tight series?
Prediction: Blackhawks in six games
The Coyotes ride a hot goalie and use a defensive system to make the playoffs. Sound familiar? However, the Hawks are eager to get back into the playoffs after being bounced in the first round by the Canucks last spring and should have more than enough firepower to defeat the Coyotes regardless of whether or not Toews is healthy enough to play.
Nashville Predators (4) vs Detroit Red Wings (5) *** Series to Watch ***
Key Matchup: Shea Weber (Predators) vs Niklas Lidstrom (Red Wings).
Lidstrom, the best defender of his generation, goes up against Weber, a player who could possibly win a few Norris Trophies of his own.
Prediction: Red Wings in seven games
Nashville is a great team. They are built for the playoffs with a rugged defensive, a great goalie and a good system. They also got Radulov back from the KHL to add some skill up front.
But the Red Wings are the best team of the modern era and are healthy. You simply don't bet against the Red Wings.