The 2018 – 2019 season came to an end on Saturday evening with a bunch of meaningless games. Now that the season is over we can focus on real hockey. Below we will breakdown the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference first round matchups.
The Western Conference has always been known to be the rough conference to play in. The conference has speed and physicality but of late the only team to hoist Lord Stanley from the West were the 2015 Chicago Blackhawks.
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This years first round might bring some big surprises. We have a couple of teams in the West that can really make an impact on the ice. What it will come down to in the first round is goaltending.
Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars
The Nashville Predators will be taking on the Dallas Stars in the first round of this years playoffs. With the season series going to 2-1-2 to both teams, it really is anyones game.
This series will feature Nashville with home ice advantage. This will be the Nashville Predators fifth consecutive post season. Despite the fact the Preds have failed to win a cup, they have had modest playoff success. The Preds lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017.
Dallas Stars finished the year as the first wild card team in the Western Conference and the 4th seed in the Central Division. The Stars haven’t been to the playoffs since they last played the St. Louis Blues in the second round of the 2016 playoffs.
This will be a close series but the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs will bring a predictable second round visit. We predict a Nashville win in 6 games.
Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues
The Winnipeg Jets will start the post season campaign this year at home. Both the St. Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets recorded 99 points on the year. With these two teams being so close in the standings home ice may play a factor in who moves on.
The Winnipeg Jets only revived home ice advantage for the first round because they had more regulation and overtime wins than the Blues. This season the jets went 3-1-0 against the Blues.
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The Blues however are working hard not to make this a short post season. St. Louis was all but out of the playoffs in January, so everyone thought. The Blues sat dead last in the league in mid January. This was before the emergence of super star rookie sensation Jodan Binnington.
Binnington has backstopped the Blues to a remarkable run. The 25 year old rookie came in and stole the show for the second half of the season. He wasn’t the only one firing on all cylinders either in St. Louis.
This series promises to be a wild and loud one. We are picking St. Louis to move on to round 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Cinderella story will continue for Binnington and the Blues.
Las Vegas vs. San Jose
The 2018 Western Conference Champions are coming into the playoffs this year with a well rested goaltender. The Golden Knights kind of let the home ice advantage slip coming down the stretch as Game 1 of the series will be played in San Jose.
The San Jose Sharks are headed into this series without much playoff success. Even though the Sharks beefed up the roster with Karlsson and Kane they find themselves in a peculiar position of having weak goaltending.
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The two teams share some bad blood as well. In the final matchup of the season between the teams Joe Thornton and Ryan Reaves were both issued $2500 fines. Whether Reaves deserved his fine or not is debatable.
What we also know is Ryan Reaves brother Jordan, too to Twitter after the incident. Calling the Sharks a bunch of “clowns”, among other things. The brother of Ryan Reaves is also a CFL football player and hasn’t shied away from controversy on twitter.
Also Read: Ryan Reaves Brother Unloads On Joe Thornton
This should be a fun series to watch. Given the play of the Sharks as of late and to be more specific the goaltending. We are going to say that the Vegas Golden Knights take this series and move on to the second round.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames
The Western Conference Champions for the 2018 – 2019 regular season goes to the Calgary Flames. Now can that success of the Flames be carried over into the post season.
The Calgary Flames finished the season in second place overall and tied in points with the Boston Bruins at 107. The 50 wins the Flames have had didn’t come without highs and lows.
The Flames have appeared to be reaching all time highs earlier in the year when Johnny Gaudreau went on an 11 game point streak. Calgary has also appeared to hit some lows this year with not so stellar goaltending.
The season series against the two team seen Calgary take all three games against the Avalanche. During the three games the Flames went with David Rittich twice and Mike Smith once.
Both goaltenders allowed 5 goals against the Avs during the season. The difference in the two is that Rittich played two games and faced 61 shots whereas Smith let his 5 goals in on only 26 shots.
This series will be a good warm up test to see who the Flames will start in goal.
The Avalanche however are looking to make a statement against the Flames. This is the second consecutive year Colorado has made the post season. They haven’t had much playoff success though since the mid 1990’s.
The Avs do have some fire power up front with MacKinnon and Landeskog. The Calgary Flames cannot take them lightly and the goaltending has to show up or it will be a rather disappointing exit for the Flames.
Looking at the big picture and the matchups we can’t see Colorado coming out on top in this series. We predict the Calgary Flames will move on to the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.