Detroit Red Wings (2) vs Chicago Blackhawks (4)
And then there were two. The two left in the West are two teams that met each other many times back in the day when there was only six teams total. I'll be honest, I didn't expect the Hawks to make it this far. They're a young team that had zero playoff experience coming into the postseason. Now they're in the Conference Finals where they'll face a team with tons of playoff experience and lots of bling to go along with it. The Red Wings will be playing in their third straight conference finals while Chicago will be playing in their first since 1995 since they played the Wings. I believe the Wings faced their toughest opponent in Anaheim and should have an easier time against the inexperienced Blackhawks, but there is one wild card in this. The same wild card Detroit has in every round... Chris Osgood. Osgood played Chicago once this year and lost, while backup Ty Conklin owns a 4-1 record. If Ozzie struggles at all in this round, I wouldn't be surprised to see a switch. Prediction: The Wings have better depth in their forwards and on their defense plus they have the experience which is invaluable when you make it this far into the playoffs. It'll be a tough scrappy series, but the Wings will take it in 6 games.
The eliminated teams
Vancouver Canucks - Canucks goalie and team captain, Roberto Luongo made $7 million this year. Any chance they could get a refund? The Canucks most expensive player couldn't have played worse. In Game 1 he blew a 3-1 lead, only to be bailed out by his offense late in the third period. In Game 2, he was lit up for 5 goals and he was shaky the rest of the way. Nobody expected the Canucks to do anything this year, but nobody expected them to go out like this. If anything they were expected to lose because they couldn't score goals, not prevent them.
Where does Vancouver go from here? Well Sundin should retire. Both Sedin twins are UFA's this summer and Luongo is in the final year of his deal and will become a UFA next summer. This team is at an interesting crossroads and could re-invent themselves over the next couple years. They're a good team, but they're not exactly one player away from a championship. They're kind of in the middle of the road right now and don't appear to be moving forward and if you're not moving forward in the NHL, you're moving backwards.
Anaheim Ducks - You have to give credit where credit is due. I don't like the Ducks at all. They play a physical goon style brand of hockey which I think it absolute garbage. They have annoying players that make me want to jump over the glass and cross check them into oblivion. But, they beat the Presidents Trophy winning San Jose Sharks and pushed the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings to the brink in Game 7. No other team had a tougher task than the Ducks in this postseason and they stood up to the challenge, met it and fell just short. I can't stand the Ducks, but you have to respect them for how well they played in these playoffs.
Unfortunately for them, this may be the end of the road for this particular version of the Anaheim Ducks. Teemu Selanne and Scott Niederymayer may both retire and Chris Pronger is entering the final year of his contract. The good news though is that they shouldn't have a problem bouncing back. Ryan Getzlaf is one of the top 5 forwards in the NHL right now. Corey Perry just keeps getting better and better and will be a 40 goal scorer in this league soon. Bobby Ryan showed why he would've been the number one overall pick if Crosby wasn't in the same draft class as him. He has the potential to be the next big 50 goal scorer. Plus, let's not forget rookie goalie Jonas Hiller coming out of nowhere and stealing the number one job from JS Giguere. All of these players mentioned are 26 or younger. So while this version of the Ducks that won a Stanley Cup two years ago will fade away, Anaheim Ducks 2.0 looks to be just as good as the original.