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2010 NHL playoffs: Western Conference first round predictions

This is what everyone loves to do as we gear up for the first of four rounds of playoff hockey: throw a dart at the wall and hope we can come close to predicting the outcomes of each series.

So we are, Pro Hockey Talk’s predictions for 2010 NHL Western Conference Quarterfinals predictions (Eastern Conference here):

(1) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Colorado Avalanche (full preview here)

Season series (Tied 2-2) Oct. 1: San Jose 2 @ Colorado 5 Oct. 30: Colorado 1 @ San Jose 3 March 28: Colorado 3 @ San Jose 4 April 4: San Jose 4 @ Colorado 5 (OT)

Brandon: Oh boy...San Jose’s worst nightmare: a hungry, speedy, talented and young team with solid goaltending. Must...not...choke....again.... Colorado in 7.

James: Everyone is so in love with the Sharks “choking.” It’s kind of like when someone unfunny finds that one joke that makes them feel part of a group. Like my grade school friend who used to say “Kung Pao Chicken” every day because we laughed at it twice. San Jose in 4.

Joe: Colorado is gassed, San Jose is just naturally better. There’s ZERO reason for the Sharks to lose this series. But if they do... perhaps it’s time for an on-ice personnel change or twelve. San Jose in 5.

(2) Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators (full preview here)

Season series (Chicago won 4-2) Oct. 15: Chicago 3 @ Nashville 1 Oct. 24: Nashville 0 @ Chicago 2 Oct. 29: Chicago 0 @ Nashville 2 Dec. 4: Nashville 4 @ Chicago 1 Dec. 26: Chicago 4 @ Nashville 1 Dec. 27: Nashville 4 @ Chicago 5

Brandon: This could be the best shot the Blackhawks will get at a Stanley Cup. The Nashville Predators are the perfect team to get in their way....but the Hawks are too hungry. Chicago in 5.

James: The Predators could give the Blackhawks some serious headaches. That being said, I think that Nashville’s lack of high-end offense will be a huge disadvantage against the loaded Chicago team. Chicago in 6.

Joe: I think this is a terrible matchup for Chicago and Nashville will give them everything they can handle and thensome. If Chicago is going to show they’re for real, beating the Predators will go a long way towards proving that. Chicago in 7.

More after the jump.

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) Los Angeles Kings (full preview here)

Season series (Vancouver won 3-1) Oct. 29: Vancouver 2 @ Los Angeles 1 (SO) Nov. 26: Los Angeles 1 @ Vancouver 4 Dec. 14: Los Angeles 1 @ Vancouver 3 April 1: Vancouver 3 @ Los Angeles 8

Brandon: Some are saying this is an upset waiting to happen; I don’t see it. The Canucks are too good, and I can see Jonathan Quick collapsing from exhaustion in the middle of a game. Vancouver in 6.

James: Man, I cannot wait for this series. I like the Kings’ talent, but I just can’t bring myself to choose a team with Jonathan Quick in net (he’s decent, but ...) against a team with Roberto Luongo. Vancouver in 7.

Joe: This is going to be a tremendous series. LA are the comeback kids, Vancouver has the future MVP and Luuuu. The Kings are damn good though but the question is can Jon Quick carry them through? Not yet. Los Angeles is just setting the table for next season anyhow. Vancouver in 7.

(4) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings (full preview here)

Season series (Tied 2-2) Oct. 22: Detroit 2 @ Phoenix 3 (OT) Dec. 14: Phoenix 2 @ Detroit 3 Jan. 2: Detroit 4 @ Phoenix 1 Jan. 26: Phoenix 5 @ Detroit 4

Brandon: The series I’m most looking forward to. Can the Coyotes pull off an unthinkable season, beating the Red Wings in the first round? Will Jimmy Howard be magical? Will Tomas Holmstrom play fair? Phoenix in 7.

James: I would feel bad for the Coyotes, but then they rejected Throw the Snake. Now - as usual - I have empathy for their fans, not the franchise. That being said, this should be a great series because Phoenix is legit. I just like Detroit’s talent a bit more. Detroit in 6.
Joe: A bit of a homer pick, I admit, but for every great playoffs storyline there’s a foil to make sure that story doesn’t go all Disney on us. Who better than the Red Wings to go and foul everything up. Detroit in 6.