Second-round picks for the West 

April, 28, 2011

What a first round! Is there any way that Round 2 can be close to as thrilling? We've had at least one overtime game on a record nine straight days. Will the Canucks and Predators stretch that run to double-digits?

Last night, the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins -- second-round foes last spring -- bid us adieu. Montreal pushed things into extra time before falling to their hated rivals, the Boston Bruins. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, just could never get their power play going against Tampa. The Pens finished the series with one lonely power-play goal in 35 tries. Somewhat fittingly, the Bolts closed out the series by stopping one last Penguins power-play chance.

Ready or not (and better or not), we're on to the second round. Here are some thoughts on the Western Conference matchups, including which teams will take each series. I'll be back with a look at the East on Friday.

Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Nashville Predators (5)
Regular-season series: Tied, 2-2

After surviving their first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks by the slimmest of margins, the Canucks have a short turnaround before opening their series against the Predators tonight. That makes me wonder -- after such a gut-wrenching past few days -- just how much emotion Alain Vigneault's team can bring to the rink in Game 1. From that standpoint, I think the door is certainly open for the Preds to gain an early foothold in the series.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.