#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings

This looks to be a battle of great goaltenders regardless of who’s in net for St. Louis. Brian Elliott, Jonathan Quick and Jaroslav Halak rank two through fourth in best goals against average. Quick ranks second and Elliott isn’t far behind him in fourth.

Obviously whichever team will be able to crack the other team’s goalie will be the one to win this series. Neither team put up huge offensive numbers in the first round. The Kings scored 12 goals in 5 games and the Blues had 14 in their 5 first round games. Dustin Brown was the Kings biggest offensive threat in the first round with 5 points in 5 games. For the Blues it was Andy McDonald who had 4 goals and 4 assists in 5 games in the first round against San Jose. 
My prediction: Blues in 6 games

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #4 Nashville Predators

I was impressed that the Predators knocked off the veteran Red Wings in only five games. I also thought Phoenix showed a lot of composure in their 5 overtime games against a playoff experienced Blackhawks who won the Stanley Cup only two seasons ago.  

The Coyotes have certainly flown under the radar this season, in part because most of the time they’re mentioned it’s because of ownership issues. Captain Shane Doan had my favorite line of the playoffs so far when asked about it in an interview for NBCSports (skip ahead to the 1 minute mark if you’re really impatient).
Goaltending is so crucial in the playoffs it’s a little redundant to say that it’s going to be a key part of this series, but this is another matchup of solid netminders. Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne have the third and fifth best save percentages respectively among playoff goalies. The two are even tied with 1.81 goals against averages.

One of the interesting things about the Coyotes is they have a defenseman tied for most points on their team. Center Antoine Vermette and defenseman Keith Yandle both have five points. All of Yandle’s points are assists and Vermette has four goals and one assist in their six first round games against Chicago.  

My prediction: Nashville in 7

Off-season Storylines to Watch:

Obviously winning the President’s Trophy doesn’t mean much. The Vancouver Canucks will certainly have an interesting offseason after their first round exit after only 5 games.

Goaltender Corey Schneider has proven that he can be a starter and held his own in his three playoff starts. He had a 1.31 goals against average and .960 save percentage in those three games. He gave his team an opportunity to win each night but his teammates let him down by failing to put the puck in the net. Compare that to starter Roberto Luongo’s 3.59 goals against average and .891 save percentage in his two playoff starts. It’s possible the Canucks can hold onto both but I’m predicting one of these netminders is in a different city when the 2012-13 season starts. Luongo’s willingness to waive his no-trade clause may be a sign that he will be the one shipped out.  

 





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