2011-12 NHL Western Conference Playoff Predictions

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2011-12 NHL Western Conference Playoff Predictions
Harry How/Getty Images
The Campbell Trophy goes to the winner of the Western Conference each season

The NHL Western Conference was dominated by three teams from 1996 through 2002. The Detroit Red Wings won three times and the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars twice each.

Their dominance was carried over to the Stanley Cup Finals, where only Dallas lost in 2000...and did not win legitimately in 1999.

In the eight seasons since then, parity is ruling the conference. Only Anaheim (2003, 2007) and Detroit (2008, 2009) have won the Campbell Trophy for being the western representative more than once. That parity is hurting their success in the finals, as only three of the eight titles have gone to the Campbell winner.

Part of this may be because the Eastern Conference travels all within the same time zone during the season, and most teams are within an hour of almost their entire division. By comparison, Dallas is over three hours away from rival San Jose and over two away from all three other teams.

But before we can know how the travel will affect the winner this season, we have to know who that winner will be. Before we can know who that winner will be, we have to know who makes it and who matches up against whom. Here are my predictions for how the Western Conference playoffs will unfold...

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