Faceoff: NHL playoff debate

By Sean Anderson and James Cantagallo

Sean Anderson: Well, James, after a long, hard-fought season, the NHL playoffs are here, and the Chicago Blackhawks are in it for the fourth-straight season. What do you believe the Hawks will do in the first round?

James Cantagallo: It’s going to be a tough series and either team is capable of winning. The Phoenix Coyotes goaltender, Mike Smith, is having a great season, but I believe the Hawks will win the series in seven games. However, Chicago will have to avoid waiting until the final seconds of the game to make something happen like games one and two. What do you believe the Hawks will do in the playoffs?

SA: I feel the Blackhawks will win the series, but in six games. The key for the Hawks is the power play coming to life. Hopefully, with Jonathan Toews back from his concussion the scoring gates will open for Chicago. Without him, Chicago looked lost; he’s the captain for a reason. This is his time to shine. Also, if Corey Crawford can be the same goalie he was last year, Chicago shouldn’t have a problem beating the Coyotes. Who do you believe will survive the first round of the playoffs?

JC: To go along with the Hawks, I believe the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators will advance in the Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference, I like the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.

SA: I think the San Jose Sharks are going to stun the St. Louis Blues in six games. For the rest of the Western Conference, I have the Kings beating Vancouver Canucks in five, the Hawks beating the Coyotes in six and the Predators beating the Detroit Red Wings in seven. In the Eastern Conference, I have the Rangers in six over the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins in five over the Washington Capitals. I think the New Jersey Devils will beat Florida Panthers in seven, and the Philadelphia Flyers will sweep the Pittsburgh Penguins. Who you think will make it to the Stanley Cup finals and who will win it?

JC: This is tough because there is not one team in either conference that stands out. There are many teams capable of winning the cup this year, and with that being said, I am going with the Predators beating the Flyers in six games for their first cup in franchise history.