Playoff Previews: Predators vs Red Wings

4 Nashville Predators vs 5 Detroit Red Wings

Do my eyes deceive me? Have the Nashville Predators indeed achieved home-ice advantage? And against the Detroit Red Wings? Next you’ll tell me that Florida and Phoenix won their divisions. As incredible as it sounds, the Predators are considered by many this season to be a legitimate contender.

But not if Detroit has anything to say about it. The Red Wings have battled through some key injuries and inconsistencies to finish fifth in the Western Conference. Each year we all wonder if age has finally caught up to the Wings. Their window of opportunity could be closing soon. Can they make a solid push in this years playoffs?

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Playoff Previews: Coyotes vs Blackhawks

3 Phoenix Coyotes vs 6 Chicago Blackhawks

These are exciting times for the Phoenix Coyotes, even if they are being rumored to play next year in any of six different locations. The Desert Dogs earned their first division title in… ever. Even going back to their days as the Winnipeg Jets, this franchise has never won a division. Wow. I had to look it up to be sure it was true. Can they now also win their first playoff series in Phoenix?

Imagine how great the Blackhawks could have been had Dale Tallon not missed that one teeny-tiny deadline? Instead, they have to settle for backdooring into a playoff spot and hoping their stars can catch fire.

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Playoff Previews: Blues vs Sharks

2 St Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks

What a difference a coach makes. Under Davis Payne, the St Louis Blues began this season with a 5-7-1 record. Not terrible, but certainly below expectation for a young, up and coming team. Payne was fired after a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on November 5, 2011. He was replaced by Ken Hitchcock who guided the Blues to a 44-15-10 record the rest of the way.

Maybe San Jose should have taken note. They too had high expectations coming into this season. Exchanging forwards Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat and sending F Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota for D Brent Burns was supposed to shake things up and add defensive depth. The result was the Sharks not even entering into the playoff picture until March and April. He may have held his job to this point, but coach Todd McLellan is likely on a short leash depending on the outcome of these playoffs.

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