NHL Western Conference Playoffs set: Quick analysis of the first-round series

On the last day of the NHL regular season, the Canucks won the President's Trophy, the Red Wings got the friendly travel schedule they wanted, the Coyotes got their first division title ever and the Sharks got an overtime victory over the Kings to earn the No. 7 sed.

Here's a glance at the Western Conference Playoffs and some quickie analysis …

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

Nov. 10: Canucks 3, Kings 2
Dec. 31: Kings 4, Canucks 1
Jan. 17: Kings 3, Canucks 2 (SO)
March 26: Canucks 1, Kings 0

Quick Take: The Kings team that lost to the Sharks on Saturday night can't hang with the Canucks, with or without Daniel Sedin. The one that has a healthy Jeff Carter can, so his reentry into the lineup is essential. This was a six-game series back in 2009-10; whether it is again will depend on the Kings finding a scintilla of offensive consistency from game to game and Jonathan Quick putting on a Vezina highlight reel. Leaning: Canucks.

[ Related: A look at all the playoff matchups ]

St. Louis Blues (2) vs. San Jose Sharks (7)

Oct. 15: Blues 4, Sharks 2
Dec. 10: Blues 1, Sharks 0
Feb. 12: Blues 3, Sharks 0
March 3: Blues 3, Sharks 1

Quick Take: Congratulations, San Jose! You've earned the right to play a team that completely owned you in the regular-season! There are some reasons to like this matchup for the Sharks, like their top six forwards facing a Blues defense that lacks significant postseason experience. But this is still a Sharks team that makes a ton of mistakes facing a team that feeds off them like Nosferatu does plasma; and a Sharks team that goes into this series with a significant disadvantage in goal. Leaning: Blues (David Perron will have his revenge on Joe Thornton!).

Phoenix Coyotes (3) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (6)

Oct. 18: Blackhawks 5, Coyotes 2
Nov. 29: Coyotes 4, Blackhawks 1
Dec. 5: Coyotes 4, Blackhawks 3 (SO)
Feb. 11: Coyotes 3, Blackhawks 0

Quick Take: I've seen a few puckheads dismissing the Blackhawks in this series, despite the fact that were four points better in the regular season while playing in a much better division. They're going to get Jonathan Toews back (we think), Duncan Keith is rested and Patrick Kane has been ridiculous. Yes, Phoenix has a significant advantage between the pipes, and Chicago hasn't exactly been the most stalwart defensive team. It's a head-scratcher of a series; do the Coyotes advanced based on the assumption Mike Smith won't flake like Bryz did against the Wings? Leaning: Coyotes.

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

Nov. 26: Red Wings 4, Predators 1
Dec. 15: Predators 4, Red Wings 3
Dec. 26: Red Wings 4, Predators 1
Feb. 17: Red Wings 2, Predators 1
March 10: Predators 3, Red Wings 2
March 30: Predators 4, Red Wings 1

Quick Take: The narrative for this series has already been written. The Red Wings are old and busted; the Predators are new hotness. The Red Wings are been there/done that; the Predators broke their maiden last postseason and have been loaded up for a conference title run. Lidstrom/Babcock/Howard out; Weber/Trotz/Rinne in. And so forth. I'm not entirely convinced I'm buying that line, but it's going to take a few days to really suss out this series. Leaning: Red Wings.

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