No. 1: Minnesota Wild
There is no surprise here. The Wild have been the West’s top team all year and bulked up at the trade deadline in adding veteran centerman Martin Hanzal. They are fast, deep and play a great defensive game. They don’t have that many elite players, but they make up for it with a solid group of role players.
Devin Dubnyk will play a huge role in the playoffs and will have to be great if his team wants to have a deep run this year. Frankly, I was a lot more scared of the Blues last year simply because of their playing style, but this team has a different way of frustrating you.
They seem to hang around and claw their way back into games. The Blackhawks will need to hold on to the puck and play a smart possession game if they’re to advance past the Wild.