And now we sit and wait

First round series in the books, second round opponent yet to be determined.

Certainly less stressful than the third period of game six Sunday night, but it's definitely no walk in the park.

With Vancouver's 4-2 win over Los Angeles last night the remaining pool of teams have been whittled down to Phoenix, Detroit, and Nashville. All come with varied skill sets and mystique surrounding them-- Detroit's historic dominance over the Western Conference, Phoenix's feel good story after going through an ugly relocation circus this summer, and Nashville's blue collar approach to winning hockey games with a never say die pack mentality.

Detroit is Detroit. Book closed, statistics supplied, the tale we have told thousands of time before. Easily the most intimidating opponent out of available three, and a team that has given San Jose a lot of issues over the last nineteen seasons. Could San Jose advance out of the series? Of course-- the Sharks slayed their fair share of demons by dealing with adversity and fighting the bad bounces against Colorado. However, in terms of difficulty, this is one you'd like to avoid. There is no easy route to the Western Conference Finals. But there are easier routes than this.

Phoenix is a club that has played the Sharks well this year, slow games that always end up 2-1. Questions of whether they were a bonafide four seed were answered early Sunday afternoon when they went into Joe Louis Arena and forced a game seven. Dave Tippet is a wonderful coach who led the Dallas Stars to a postseason victory over San Jose in 2008-- he knows how effective the trap game can be against San Jose, and has the personnel to implement it much more effectively over the course of a seven game series when compared to Colorado. Ilya Bryzgalov, boasting a .930 career save percentage against the Sharks, always seems to bring his best stuff when going up against fellow countryman Evgeni Nabokov.

Nashville is the little brother that has begun to mature, and despite digging themselves into a 3-2 series hole, showed that they are able to hang with the Western Conference top guns in the postseason. The majority of the fanbase seem to take the Predators for granted due to their historical role as postseason whipping boys, but they definitely have the pieces to make things interesting. The blueline is beyond solid (even with Hamhuis questionable), Barry Trotz drains every conceivable ounce of talent out of his roster year after year, and Pekka Rinne can steal a game or two. That being said, I don’t think there’s any way they can recover from that meltdown in game five. It was a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon esque boot right to the babymaker.

Detroit goes seven, a series with Phoenix probably tilts in that direction as well. Nashville is the easiest draw for San Jose.

Western Conference Schedule

time Away Home Series TV
Mon April 26th 6:00 PST
Chicago Nashville CHI leads 3-2
TSN, Versus (JIP)
Tues April 27th 6:00 PST
Detroit Phoenix Tied 3-3
TSN, Versus
Wed April 28th TBD
Nashville Chicago If Necessary

Let er' rip.

Go Sharks.

Who would you like to see the Sharks face in the second round (from most desired to least desired)?

Detroit, Phoenix, Nashville61
Detroit, Nashville, Phoenix75
Phoenix, Detroit, Nashville24
Phoenix, Nashville, Detroit79
Nashville, Phoenix, Detroit565
Nashville, Detroit, Phoenix109