With Detroit's win over Chicago in today's afternoon game, the Preds are locked into the No. 5 seed in the 2011 playoffs. Finishing in the No. 5 seed was the highest placement the Preds could earn out of today's games and means a first round match up against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks might be the hottest team in the Conference entering the playoffs and Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne might be the two most dangerous forwards in the NHL over the past two/three weeks. Still, the Preds matched up well with the Ducks during the regular season, winning three of the four games, including a 5-4 playoff-type battle just two weeks ago.
Injuries at the goaltending position for the Ducks mean former Preds netminder Dan Ellis has a good chance to open the series as the starter for Anaheim, bringing an interesting goaltending match-up between former teammates Ellis and Pekka Rinne
. They shared goaltending duties for the Preds in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
If the Preds advance out of the first round, the No. 5 seed holds more upside for the second round than the other possible seeding options. With all the parity in the Conference and the talent laden teams at the bottom of the playoff seeding, the potential for first round upsets is significant --- Chicago has knocked out Vancouver the past two seasons and could match-up with the Canucks again this year; Phoenix will get a rematch with Detroit after last year’s seven game nail-biter in the Conference Quarterfinals; San Jose and LA will meet in a California showdown --- if two division winners go down in the first round, the winner of the #4/#5 series hosts a Division Semifinals match-up.