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2010 NHL playoffs: Western Conference 1st round matchups

Apr 11, 2010, 5:43 PM EDT

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With Detroit beating the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings coming back against Colorado, we now have our Western Conference matchups all set.

#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #8 Colorado Avalanche
This is a great matchup for the Avalanche, who have Craig Anderson to fall back on against a Sharks team that has struggled in the latter part of the season. Of course, the Sharks finished the season on a good run at the end, so perhaps their penchant for choking will end this year? It’s the veterans with something to prove against the young, inexperienced and hungry team. Should be fun.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Nashville Predators
This is the most intriguing matchup for me. It’s two teams with completely different approaches to the game, with the Blackhawks coming in as a team with everything on the line. The Predators are a patient, defensive-minded team taking on a speedy, skilled and talented team with nothing but questions in net. Can Pekka Rinne be the spoiler for a great season by Chicago?

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs. #6 Los Angeles Kings
The Kings used and abused Jonathan Quick all season long, and it could turn around and hurt them in the playoffs. Quick played in 72 games this season, but hasn’t won since March 22, a run of eight games without a win. The Canucks have the Sedins; enough said.

#4 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
Here is the most interesting matchup of them all. The veteran, experienced and wily Red Wings taking on Dave Tippett and the ultra surprising Phoenix Coyotes. This is the perfect scenario for the Coyotes and their fans, who get to host a playoff series against the most successful NHL team of the past decade.

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