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A quick overview of the eight Western Conference entrants in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / Monumental Sports Network

The NHL's 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway on Wednesday night with a five-game slate. Sixteen teams will battle it out in eight opening round series matchups, and with that in mind, here's a quick overview of each of this spring's eight Western Conference playoff entrants. (Ranking in parentheses denotes rank among 30 NHL teams during 2016-17 regular season.)

Anaheim - The Ducks finished on a 13-1-3 run and won their fifth straight division title on the season's final day, defeating rival Los Angeles to get it done. This is the 10-year anniversary of the Ducks' drive to the first Stanley Cup title for the state of California, and Randy Carlyle was at the helm of that 2006-07 team, too. Anaheim will be missing Cam Fowler (knee) at the outset of the postseason, and Patrick Eaves went down in the finale against the Kings. The Ducks are a little top-heavy offensively, so being without Eaves could be problematic. He scored 11 goals in 20 games with Anaheim after coming over from Dallas in a deadline deal, finishing with 32 on the season. Still mostly led by Ryan Getlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler, the Ducks also get significant contributions from Rickard Rakell (team-leading 33 goals) and Jakob Silfverberg (23 goals). The Ducks won the Jennings Trophy last season, and they're the stingiest defensive team of the Western Conference playoff entrants. Anaheim won 29 home games (29-8-4), more than any other team in the Western Conference, and it hasn't lost at Honda Center in regulation in more than a month. It's not hard to see the Ducks getting to the Western final.

Record: 46-23-13 (sixth)

Goals: 220 (18th)

Goals Against: 197 (third)

Power Play: 18.7% (17th)

Penalty Kill: 84.7% (fourth)

SAT% Close: 50.9% (ninth)

First-Round Foe: Calgary 


Calgary - The Flames made the playoffs for the second time in the last three springs, getting in as the Western Conference's second wild card team, showing a 17-point improvement in Glen Gulutzan's first season behind the Calgary bench. But if they're going to win this series, the Flames are going to have to figure out a way to win in Anaheim's Honda Center, something they haven't done since Jan. 19, 2004. The Ducks have won 25 straight regular season home games over the Flames, the longest streak of its kind in NHL history. The last time Calgary won in Anaheim, Darryl Sutter was coaching the Flames and Mike Babcock was coaching the Ducks. This spring will mark the second playoff voyage for young Flames stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, and the first for teen forward Matthew Tkachuk. Calgary's bottom six forward group is well-dotted with ex-Hawks with Cup rings: Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik and Kris Versteeg. Flames captain Mark Giordano will be playing Stanley Cup playoff hockey for the first time in nearly a decade, since April of 2007. He has played 618 regular season games for Calgary since he last suited up in the playoffs.

Record: 45-33-4 (15th)

Goals: 222 (17th)

Goals Against: 219 (14th)

Power Play: 20.2% (10th)

Penalty Kill: 81.6% (12th)

SAT% Close: 50.3% (14th)

First-Round Foe: Anaheim 



Chicago - The remarkably resilient Hawks are still the best of the West, making a ninth consecutive trip to the playoffs in a run that includes three Cup titles along the way. While retaining the team's core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Corey Crawford for all three of those championship runs, Hawks' GM Stan Bowman seamlessly moved up-and-coming homegrown youngsters (like Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz), cheap rejects from other organizations (like Richard Panik) and budget free agent buys (like Brian Campbell) into the outskirts of that core, and the Hawks won their first division title since 2013 and finished with the best record in the conference. Chicago snoozed its way through its last eight games (2-3-3) but the Blackhawks still have as good a chance as any team in their conference of reaching the Cup final this spring. Special teams haven't been special for the Hawks this season; they have the worst regular season penalty killing outfit of the 16 playoff entrants - though that penalty killing unit settled in nicely after a terrible start to the season - and only Ottawa and San Jose were worse with the extra man among playoff clubs. Chicago has faced the Predators twice in the postseason, taking them out in six games both times, most recently in the first round in 2015. Getting center Artem Anisimov back after a three-week absence with a lower body injury is a big plus for the Hawks going into the playoffs. Aiming for their fourth Cup in the last eight seasons, Chicago has home ice in the first round for just the second time in the last seven springs.

Record: 50-23-9 (third)

Goals: 240 (ninth)

Goals Against: 212 (11th)

Power Play: 18.0% (19th)

Penalty Kill: 77.7% (24th)

SAT% Close: 50.3% (16th)

First-Round Foe: Nashville 



Edmonton - The Oilers are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and the first time in the Connor McDavid era. McDavid reached the 100-point plateau in the final game of the season, and will win the first of what will likely be several Art Ross Trophies as the league's leading scorer. McDavid is the fifth NHL player to reach 100 points in the last seven seasons and the first Oiler to do so since Doug Weight finished with 104 in 1995-96. But the main reason for Edmonton's resurgence and its return to the playoffs is the team's much improved performance in its own end of the ice. Goaltender Cam Talbot tied for the league lead with 42 wins, and the Oilers moved from 26th to eighth in the league in goals against, shaving off nearly half a goal against per game this season. Edmonton goes into the postseason with a green blueline; Andrej Sekera (647), Kris Russell (641) and Adam Larsson (353) are the only Oilers defensemen with more than 300 regular season games in the league, and all Edmonton blueliners combined have played in just 59 Stanley Cup playoff games, led by Russell's total of 36. Fortunately for Talbot and the Oilers' blueline, the Sharks weren't an offensive juggernaut this season. This is a winnable series for the Oilers, but it's winnable for the Sharks, too. 

Record: 47-26-9 (eighth)

Goals: 243 (eighth)

Goals Against: 207 (eighth)

Power Play: 22.9% (fifth)

Penalty Kill: 80.7% (T-17th)

SAT% Close: 49.7% (20th)

First-Round Foe: San Jose



Minnesota - Despite sputtering some down the stretch (3-10-2 during a 15-game stretch in March), the Wild finished up with four straight wins to restore some of the good feelings to their locker room heading into the postseason. Minnesota finished with the second-best record among all Western Conference teams, rolling up a franchise record 106-point season. Ex-Caps bench boss Bruce Boudreau guides the Wild into the postseason for the first time, and his team features a deep and balanced attack with a dozen players who reached the double-digit level in goals during the regular season. Eight Minnesota forwards finished with 40 or more points, and four Wild defensemen chipped in with 25 or more points. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk won 40 games and should garner some Vezina Trophy consideration. This is the best team in franchise history, and the Wild is absolutely good enough to come out of the West in June. Three times in his coaching career, Boudreau has lost in a Game 7 to the eventual Cup-winning team. Minnesota starts the postseason with an interesting match-up against the Blues and coach Mike Yeo, who was Minnesota's coach until just over a year ago. 

Record: 49-25-8 (fifth)

Goals: 263 (second)

Goals Against: 206 (seventh)

Power Play: 21.0% (ninth)

Penalty Kill: 82.9% (eighth)

SAT% Close: 50.3% (15th)

First-Round Foe: St. Louis



Nashville - After a slow start in which they won just three of their first 11 games (3-5-3), the Predators have advanced to the playoffs for the third straight season and the 10th time in the last 13 seasons. Facing Chicago in the first round, the Preds will be challenged immediately. They've never advanced beyond the second round, and they've lost both previous series to the Hawks, bowing out in six games both times. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne improved a bit over 2015-16's performance, but may never return to the dominant form he showed earlier in the decade, and his 22-26 career postseason record, 2.51 GAA and .912 save pct. don't exactly inspire confidence. Nashville has a stable of strong, puck-moving defensemen that help fuel its attack, and the Preds have a dozen skaters who've reached the double-digit goal level this season. With 31 goals each, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson lead the Preds' offense. Rinne's performance and whether the Nashville centers can hold their own against the Hawks will go a long way toward determining whether the Preds can engineer an upset of the best team in the Western Conference in the first round.

Record: 41-29-12 (T-15th)

Goals: 238 (11th)

Goals Against: 220 (15th)

Power Play: 18.9% (16th)

Penalty Kill: 80.9% (15th)

SAT% Close: 50.5% (13th)

First-Round Foe: Chicago



St. Louis - A mid-season coaching flip from Ken Hitchcock to Mike Yeo helped sparked the Blues to a strong finish (22-8-2 over their final 32 games) and a sixth straight postseason appearance. The Blues advanced to the Western Conference final last season, doing so for the first time in 15 years. Just ahead of the start of the playoffs, the Blues added forward Vladimir Sobotka after he spent the last three seasons playing in the KHL. Sobotka is a strong two-way forward who will help round out the Blues' group of forwards. Vladimir Tarasenko is the big gun here; he led the Blues with 39 goals. Patrik Berglund (23 goals) is the only other Blues player to reach 20 this season. Even after dealing defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to Washington at the trade deadline, the Blues still boast a pair of right-handed blueliners with 35-plus points on the season in Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko. Goaltender Jake Allen will be a key performer for the Blues. After an incredibly rocky patch in midseason, Allen rebounded to go 16-7-2 with three shutouts, a 1.85 GAA and a .938 save pct. in 25 starts after the All-Star break. The Blues need that Allen to show up in the playoffs, rather than the one who posted a 2.83 GAA and an .897 save pct. ahead of the All-Star break.

Record: 46-29-7 (T-10th)

Goals: 233 (12th)

Goals Against: 216 (T-12th)

Power Play: 21.3% (eighth)

Penalty Kill: 84.8% (third)

SAT% Close: 51.1% (eighth)

First-Round Foe: Minnesota 



San Jose - A year after reaching the Stanley Cup final for the first time in franchise history, the Sharks will face former San Jose bench boss Todd McLellan and the Edmonton Oilers in the first round. The Sharks suffered a pair of key injuries down the stretch when Logan Couture (face) and Joe Thornton (lower body) were sidelined, and the health of both of those key top six forwards will be critical to the Sharks' ability to move beyond the first round. Among the 16 playoff teams this spring, only Ottawa finished with fewer goals scored than San Jose. Blueliner Brent Burns led San Jose with 29 goals and 76 points, but he scored only two goals in the last 23 games and have just five even-strength points during that same span. The Sharks have plenty of postseason experience, but they've got to have Couture and Thornton healthy. Those are two of only five players who recorded more than 30 points for San Jose during the regular season. Although the Sharks won three of their last four games to finish out the season, they also won only four of their last 13 (4-9-0). Goaltender Martin Jones was very good for the Sharks in the postseason a year ago when he allowed two or fewer goals in 15 of 24 starts. 

Record: 46-29-7 (T-10th)

Goals: 219 (19th)

Goals Against: 200 (fifth)

Power Play: 16.7% (25th)

Penalty Kill: 80.7% (T-17th)

SAT% Close: 51.9% (sixth)

First-Round Foe: Edmonton 

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