2012 NHL Playoff Predictions: DBD Picks Western Conference's First Round

2012 NHL Playoff Predictions - Vancouver Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings. St. Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks. Phoenix Coyotes vs Chicago Blackhawks. Nashville Predators vs Detroit Red Wings.

The 2012 NHL Playoffs start tonight, and as is our custom here at Defending Big D, just because we don't have a dog in the hunt doesn't mean we're not going to throw our two cents in...

Please share your thoughts in the comments as we prepare to watch the greatest playoff tournament on the planet.

(1) Vancouver Canucks vs (8) Los Angeles Kings

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Brandon Worley: Best series in the West in the first round and should be the closest. I think Vancouver is going to struggle offensively and unless the Canucks start Cory Schneider for the entire series, Los Angeles is going to give them some trouble. Los Angeles in 6.

Erin Bolen: This series hinges on which version of the Kings offense shows up. The Canucks have too much firepower for the Kings to win by scoring 1-2 goals a night, even with Jonathan Quick in net. Even if the Canucks net-minding has a few issues, I think the offensive talent gap is too wide for Los Angeles. - Canucks in 6

Josh Lile: Best series of the opening round. Kings in seven.

Taylor Baird: Scoring has been the Kings' problem all season, but their goaltender Jonathon Quick has been phenomenal (again.) Vancouver knows how to score, but starting goaltender Roberto Luongo has playoff demons for sure. Canucks can interchange Corey Schneider and seemingly not miss a beat. Vancouver in 5.

Brad Gardner: LAK won just 40 of 82 games this year, and their offensive struggles are well documented. More overtime is on the horizon for a team that lost their way into the tournament, and overtime has not been their forte in recent seasons (see 3 OT losses to SJS last year in round 1). VAN in a nauseatingly unlikeable 7 games.

The other series after the jump...

(2) St. Louis Vs (7) San Jose Sharks

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Brandon Worley: The Sharks aren't very good, no matter how well they played against the Stars. The Blues, despite a lackluster end to the season, are very good. Slow start for St. Louis, who put it easily away. Blues in 6

Erin Bolen: Even though Brian Elliott is hurt, the Blues still have one of the best goalies in the league in Jaroslav Halak and a defense in front of him that makes Ken Hitchcock proud with their ability to deny the high-percentage shots. I don't trust Antti Niemi at all, and I don't think the Sharks do either. - Blues in 5

Josh Lile: Never bet on the Sharks. StL in six

Taylor Baird: The Sharks couldn't beat the Blues once during the regular season, and the Blues have been lethal on home ice this season. The Blues, after starting so terribly, shifted coaching to a familiar face for Stars fans - Ken Hitchcock - and have one of the stingiest defenses in the league. I don't think the Sharks get by a Hitchcock-coached Blues squad, and I think they'll see an early round exit again. Blues in 6.

Brad Gardner: Playoff inexperience versus yearly playoff disappointment. This one could be the most surprising of the first round depending on your point of view. Niemi is pedestrian at best, but the Blues will be so busy shoring things up in their own end (re: sitting back) they won't test him. Sharks in a 7 game upset for me. Then a swift second round exit.

(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs (6) Chicago Blackhawks

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Brandon Worley: I am picking Phoenix because I really want to see them win a playoff series and because I don't like Chicago very much. Phoenix in 6.

Erin Bolen: Dave Tippett can squeeze every bit of talent out of a roster, and the Coyotes were the best team in the Western Conference over the last few months of the season. Mike Smith shone down the stretch, and he will need to continue to play well because Chicago has all sorts of offensive weapons. I trust the Coyotes offense to produce just enough in this series, but it will be close. - Phoenix in 7

Josh Lile: Chicago is much better than Phoenix. Chicago in four

Taylor Baird: I feel kind of bad for Phoenix, who won their first division title since leaving Winnipeg, but still have to answer endless questions about ownership and relocating when they should be focusing on the playoffs. Chicago may not have their captain Jonathon Toews for the first round, and their goaltending is a bit streaky this year. Phoneix in 7.

Brad Gardner: The Coyotes have the same number of wins as the Stars do and yet sit here in third place. They've faded in the playoffs with gusto repeatedly. Mike Smith vs Mediocrity in the Chicago net. That could be the equalizer, but once again Dave Tippett's "wait for the shootout" philosophy will fail when his team needs a big goal late in games. Or at least it should. Hawks in 6.

(4) Nashville Predators vs (5) Detroit Red Wings

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Brandon Worley: If Detroit is healthy, they'll easily take down the Predators. I feel like there's a ton of hype building for Nashville and while Radulov has been good, the team is nowhere near as good as they're made out to be. Detroit in 6.

Erin Bolen: Detroit is limping into the playoffs, and Nicklas Lidstrom is finally starting to show signs of age. But the Wings know how to win, and they have the puck-possession system that will limit the Predators scoring chances and pepper Pekka Rinne. My heart says Nashville, but my head says Detroit. - Detroit in 7

Josh Lile: The healthy Red Wings are significantly better. Wings in five.

Taylor Baird: This one is the most intriguing matchup in the first round to me. Nashville has one of the best shut down defensive pairs in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, and their powerplay is one of the most lethal. But you can't ever count the Red Wings out, even if they come limping into the playoffs. Detroit is struggling on the road, which gives Nashville the edge. Nashville in 6.

Brad Gardner: If the Predators win, it's because the Red Wings allow them to. The Predators looked mediocre to the naked and advanced statistical eyes down the stretch despite the marquee additions. Only Detroit's health and age might let them in. I'll go Nashville in 7, because I question the Wings' resolve.

Good chance for Wings to get a look at their new player, Ryan Suter.

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