Friday, April 29, 2016

Queueing Up the West

On Friday night, the Western Conference will fly into gear, as both divisional series will get started, as we kick off the weekend.  In Dallas, it will be Game 1 between the Blues and the Stars, which certainly has a lot of potential for a great series as well.

Both teams had excellent regular seasons and they knew that their paths through the playoffs were going to be exceptionally difficult and now these are the top two teams, in terms of playoff selections, left in the Western Conference, which means that one team is going to leave a lot of disappointment behind.

The Stars are the favourites, according to the picks, in this series, leading 111-61.  An old playoff favourite, Patrick Sharp, leads all players in this series with 18 picks, followed by John Klingberg and Alexander Steen, both with 16 picks.  As for the goaltending, one team is still waiting for Jake Allen to take to the net for the Blues, which doesn't look like it will happen right away, with Brian Elliott earning the job as number one, while Kari Lehtonen also has one supporter in the pool and he should be getting the Game 1 start tonight.

Scoring-wise, the Stars and their dynamic offense are bringing their talents to round two, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza are leading all scorers in this series, with 11 and 10 points, respectively.  Jaden Schwartz isn't far behind, with 8 points.

The Stars don't appear to have Tyler Seguin ready for Game 1, as his Achilles issue is still not 100% and Valeri Nichushkin, who was a healthy scratch to finish the series against the Wild, is questionable to return to the lineup, but that's a coaching decision, more than anything.

In the Pacific Division Final, where there is only one Pacific Division team left to play in it, the San Jose Sharks will do battle against the Nashville Predators, kicking off tonight in the late game in the Shark Tank.

The Predators may have finally added some offense to go with their big defense, while the Sharks are finally seeing their big stars roll at the same time, which makes this into a very interesting series at the start.

Neither team were thought to be making it this far, if you were to take the number of selections as an indicator.  Sure, there were a number of teams that took out a little bit of insurance, just in case, and it appears to have paid off.  The Sharks are the favourites between these two sides, leading 38-17 in picks, the least amount of selections in all four series going on at the moment.  Logan Couture makes up 22% of all of those picks, being taken 12 times for the series lead, while Brent Burns and Joe Thornton each come in with six picks to be tied for second on the team.  The top Predators player in picks... Ryan Ellis in Box 11, taken six times.  In goal, it will be Pekka Rinne against Martin Jones, and it is the Sharks keeper that leads in picks, 2-0.

The goalies both lead their teams in points in the pool with 8 each, then it is Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture leading the Sharks in pool points with 7 each and then Shea Weber leads Nashville's skaters with 6 points after round one.

Both teams appear to be healthy, from a selection sheet standpoint, as there are no players from either team on the news page today, so all that is left is for the puck to be dropped.  8:30pm MT is puck drop in Game 1... this should be a good one!

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