NHL Playoff Predictions: SB Nation Hockey Writers Make Western Conference Quarterfinal Picks

We made our Eastern Conference picks earlier on Tuesday, and now, one day before the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin, we've made our picks for the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Which four teams will advance to the second round?

Our panel of SB Nation hockey writers have prognosticated, and you can take a glimpse at those picks after the jump.

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks

Travis Hughes: I'd like to say that the Blackhawks are going to topple the Canucks again, but now that Vancouver is healthy, they just have too much strength in all areas to let Chicago beat them again. Canucks in six.

Mike ChenChicago's injuries (mostly Dave Bolland's concussion) and lack of checking depth hurt them against Vancouver's complete lineup. Corey Crawford still makes rookie mistakes, which won't work when things are lopsided on paper. If Bolland is healthy, make it Canucks in six.

Steve LeporeIt's easy to think that the Canucks will finally get over the Blackhawks, but Chicago will find new heroes and get enough scoring to win it. Blackhawks in seven. 

Zachary ZielonkaThe Canucks have not been fans of Chelsea Dagger over the past two seasons and this is the season they should be able to avoid hearing it all that often. Canucks in five.

No. 2 San Jose Sharks vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Kings

TH: San Jose is my pick to come out of the West, and without Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, the Sharks will make relatively easy work of the Kings. Sharks in six.

MC: Terry Murray has the Kings playing a defensive shell with some, but not enough, effectiveness. San Jose's three scoring lines use their speed and size to overwhelm the Kopitar-less Kings. Sharks in six.

SL: This one will be surprisingly close, but the lack of Kopitar will hurt the Kings just enough to keep them from the upset. Sharks in seven. 

ZZ: The San Jose Sharks have been perennial playoff underachievers and this season the pressure is somewhat off of them in the first round. They have the pleasure of drawing the Kings who are missing a few key pieces of their offense. Sharks in five. 

No. 3 Detroit Red Wings vs. No. 6 Phoenix Coyotes

TH: Ilya Bryzgalov will steal a few games for Phoenix early in the series, and the Coyotes are going to use that momentum to earn their first ever playoff series win. Coyotes in six. 

MC: Last year's series went seven despite Phoenix losing Shane Doan early on; this year, Henrik Zetterberg may miss time and Doan is healthy. The Coyotes finally break through, snakes are thrown, and the City of Glendale talks about something besides the bond market. Coyotes in six.

SL: Detroit has too much firepower to make up for their lack of consistent goaltending. Phoenix just doesn't have enough offense to keep up. Red Wings in six.

ZZ: The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs every year for what seems like an eternity and they know how exactly to handle the first round. The Coyotes are less talented then they were last season when these teams faced off. Red Wings in six. 

No. 4 Anaheim Ducks vs. No. 5 Nashville Predators

TH: Perhaps the most intriguing battle in the first round, the Preds are going to fall into their defensive shell just enough to shut down the Ducks potent offense. In the playoffs, they play a style that works well, and ultimately it'll come down to goaltending. There's a lot to like in Jonas Hiller and Ray Emery, but there's a lot to love in Pekka Rinne. Predators in seven. 

MC: This would be a different series if Anaheim had a healthy JonasHiller. Instead, they've got some big question marks in net. BarryTrotz sets checking assignments to contain Getzlaf/Perry/Ryan and Pekka Rinne saves the day when needed to eek out a physical and brutal seven-game win. Predators in seven.

SL: This will be a real defensive struggle, but I feel like whoever comes out of this series is going to make a big run. Anaheim gets good enough goaltending to overcome Rinne and the Preds. Ducks in seven.

ZZ: The Nashville Predators have yet to win a first round matchup in their history but this year is their chance. Predators in seven.

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