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Mixer's Picks: Second Round (West)

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets


Editor's Note: BlueJackets.com's Rob Mixer is notorious for his terrible playoff predictions, so he's back to drop them once again. Let him know how bad they are by tweeting him at @RobMixer.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
The Flames proved many doubters wrong by qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and then, took it a step further with a six-game dispatching of the Vancouver Canucks in the opening round. Calgary was the better team throughout that series, got better goaltending, and was definitely more opportunistic than Vancouver, which struggled offensively and gave up far too many goals (sources say this is a bad formula). They’re facing a slightly more rested Anaheim team that took care of the Winnipeg Jets in a four-game sweep, and with every game in that series, the Ducks looked more and more dangerous. They have the firepower up front, a loaded defense and – perhaps most notably – they’re playing with a boatload of confidence and never believe they’re out of a game. These are two teams that got a lot out of a lot of players in their first round series victories, and I think depth (and an unsung hero or two) will step to the fore in the second round.

PREDICTION: Anaheim in 6

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild
There’s nothing like a rematch, right? Here’s the catch: this is hardly a reprise of last year’s second-round series between the Blackhawks and Wild, and for a variety of reasons. The first and foremost reason that this Minnesota team is better positioned for a deep playoff run is goaltending; the Wild got terrific play in goal from Devan Dubnyk down the stretch and that carried over into their six-game series win over the St. Louis Blues, the former earning Dubnyk a nomination for this year’s Vezina Trophy. Next is their balanced attack; the Wild are similar to the Blackhawks in that they have four solid lines and a heavily-relied upon top defense pairing, and they got a huge performance from Zach Parise in their Game 6 win over the Blues. On the other side, the Blackhawks seem to have gotten past some goaltending drama and will start Corey Crawford in Game 1 against Minnesota. And you can call me crazy (wouldn't be the first time), but this series smells like one that will be decided on goaltending…meaning if Crawford can answer the bell for the Blackhawks, we could have ourselves a very entertaining series. But my gut feeling is that this Wild team is one warming to the task with each passing game, and they’ll be the team advancing to the West Final.

PREDICTION: Minnesota in 6

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