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Western Conference
Pierre McGuire
April 20, 2009
A pair of dangerous upstarts will fall short in a first round that a Red Wings fan has got to love
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April 20, 2009

Western Conference

A pair of dangerous upstarts will fall short in a first round that a Red Wings fan has got to love

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1 Sharks vs. 8 Ducks

SAN JOSE finished 26 points ahead of Anaheim, but this series isn't the mismatch that that margin implies. Adding Ryan Whitney at the trade deadline and getting François Beauchemin back from a torn ACL gives the Ducks a deep defensive corps, and its young line of Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf has evolved into one of the NHL's best. The Sharks must keep their cool and get a big series from captain Patrick Marleau—who has never played with more confidence—and goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

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Sharks in Seven

2 Red Wings vs. 7 Blue Jackets

THIS IS the worst possible matchup for Columbus—and for the rest of the Western Conference because Detroit won't be heavily taxed. The Red Wings can outplay the Blue Jackets in every facet of the game and won't have much travel. Detroit defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart can neutralize Columbus scoring star Rick Nash, and the Red Wings have more than enough scoring power to break through against the Jackets' sensational rookie goalie, Steve Mason.

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Red Wings in Five

3 Canucks vs. 6 Blues

BESET BY injuries, St. Louis nevertheless rallied to close 18-6-3. Young forwards Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie and David Perron carried the team, which under master motivator Andy Murray believes it can keep up its improbable run. For Vancouver, it's critical to get off to a good start in the series, to have top crease-crashers Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler rattle Blues goalie Chris Mason and to have their near-telepathic twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, in symbiotic form.

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Canucks in Six

4 Blackhawks vs. 5 Flames

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