Western Conference Preview
A healthy Joe Thornton is ready to lead the Sharks deep into the postseason
Posted: Tuesday April 10, 2007 11:23AM; Updated: Tuesday April 10, 2007 1:42PM
Red Wings (1) vs. Flames (8)
Calgary will come out hard, but Detroit -- with bruising forwards Todd Bertuzzi, Kyle Calder and Johan Franzen -- is built for a physical series. The ultimate matchup will pit Flames star right wing Jarome Iginla against perhaps the slickest NHL defenseman of the last 20 years, Nicklas Lidstrom. If Iginla can beat Lidstrom and give Calgary some offensive spark, this could be a long series.
The Pick: Wings in six
Ducks (8) vs. Wild (7)
Anaheim is the last team Minnesota wants to play. The Ducks' Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer are the NHL's most formidable defensemen, and stellar forechecking forward Sammy Pahlsson will stall the Wild's offensive core of Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra, Brian Rolston and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Minnesota must score a lot of rebound goals, which Anaheim goalies are prone to giving up.
The Pick: Ducks in six
Canucks (3) vs. Stars (6)
Look for low-scoring, tight-checking games that could be decided by special teams. Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo has a huge edge over Dallas netminder Marty Turco. The Stars need offense from veteran forwards Mike Modano and Mike Ribeiro and steady forechecking from Brenden Morrow, but if Dallas doesn't shut down the Sedin twins and win one-goal games, the Canucks will take the series.
The Pick: Canucks in seven
Predators (4) vs. Sharks (5)
The Predators improved by adding forwards Peter Forsberg and Jason Arnott but don't match up well with deep, fast, skillful San Jose. Frontliner Steve Sullivan's health problems (he's out indefinitely with back spasms) only add to Nashville's woes. San Jose center Joe Thornton should thrive; he's healthy and surrounded by great talent in Jonathan Cheechoo, Bill Guerin and Patrick Marleau.
The Pick: Sharks in five