Today's topic: "Would you rather face Chicago or Phoenix in round two?"
Marc: Chicago: This series would have it all and then some. First, the road to the Stanley Cup is going to go through the Central Division this year, so this would be just another chance to stick it to a division foe. It's also another chance to exorcise some demons from playoffs past. I don't know about you, but I still get sick thinking about the 2010 series, and this would be a chance to put that all to rest. The Predators went 4-2 against the Blackhawks this year, so it's not like this is an unwinnable series either.
Sam: I'm a little more concerned about winning than exorcising demons. You've answered who you most want to beat--not who you most want to play. And I don't know what this "road to the Cup goes through the West" talk is all about--I think you've been watching too much college football, Marc. There's no points awarded for strength of playoff schedule. If you've been watching this series between Phoenix and Chicago, Chicago really has dominated. Phoenix has only been able to win by sneaking the flimsiest of shots past Corey Crawford in overtime. Pekka Rinne shut them out once this season, he could easily do it again.
Marc: "Phoenix has only been able to win by sneaking the flimsiest of shots past Corey Crawford." So why wouldn't you want the Predators sneaking the flimsiest of shots past Corey Crawford? We've seen first hand what a hot goalie can do in the playoffs, and Mike Smith has that kind of potential. Chicago has some skilled forwards, but so did Detroit and the Preds pretty damn well shut them down. Chicago reminds me a lot of Anaheim last year - skilled forwards, shaky defense and awful goaltending. Also, who doesn't want home ice again?
Sam: Home ice is negated by 5,000 Blackhawks fans in Bridgestone Arena and the decible difference between the Madhouse and Glendale. And yes, Corey Crawford sucks--if we were picking goalies we'd most like to see the Preds face, he wins. But remember--Mike Smith was similarly on the scrap heap just a few months ago. And the Coyotes have been outshot 202-139 this series.
Your Anaheim analogy doesn't hold water. The Ducks sucked last year because they were a bottom five defensive team. You know who's at the bottom of that list this year? It's not the Blackhawks--they're top 10. Phoenix: the third most shots-allowed in the league. And that's not to mention the second-worst power play.
Gut check time, Preds fans: who's going to give the Preds more matchup problems: Daymond Langkow or Jonathan Toews? An aging Shane Doan or Patrick Kane? Would you rather see Alex Radulov against Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson or against Seabrook and Keith? The Preds are going to win the goaltending match-up regardless, and the choice between the rest of the rosters isn't close.