Preview: NHL Playoffs Western Conference Final

1.San Jose vs. 2 Chicago

How they got here: Chicago defeated an over-matched Vancouver team in 6 games while San Jose knocked out Detroit in 5. San Jose has been off since Saturday, so rest time may play a factor in this series (either good or bad).

Series Overview: This is new territory for San Jose, who has never been to the Conference finals (edit: SJ did make it in 2004, losing to Calgary), while Chicago returns after being defeated by Detroit last year. Both Chicago and San Jose have lots of firepower on offense, while also having a decent defense. In goal, Antti Niemi has performed admirably for Chicago, while Evgnei Nabakov has shed his reputation for choking in the playoffs. The team that has the better goal tending should win the series. Chicago has been here before and has learned from last year, which leads me to pick them to advance to the Final.

Players to watch: San Jose- Joe Thornton must continue to be the current Joe Thornton and not the Joe Thornton of previous playoffs. Joe Pavelski must also continue his recent hot streak for San Jose to advance. Nabakov must also play like he did against Dallas in Game 6 (4OT marathon) in the 2008 playoffs. Chicago- Jonathon Toews must play like he has throughout these playoffs, while Marian Hossa must also contribute, and not play like he did last year. Chicago’s entire defense must step up to shut down San Jose’s potentially explosive offense. Niemi must also play well for Chicago in goal by not letting in anything soft, which would kill Chicago.

Series Prediction: Chicago in 6

Current prediction record: 4-6.

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