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Original Issue

Western Conference

The heavy favorite may get knocked off its game, while old pros in Colorado and Dallas will be pressed

Playoff goaltending ranked 1 (best) to 16 (worst)

1 Red Wings vs. 8 Predators
Nashville's core of edgy young defensemen, including Dan Hamhuis (right), will make life difficult for Henrik Zetterberg (left) and Detroit's other offensive weapons. Thus the Wings must win this series in the trenches and not rely solely on their playmaking ability.

THE PICK
Red Wings in seven

8
15

2 Sharks vs. 7 Flames
Calgary is a physical, no-quit team, but this is a terrible matchup for the club. San Jose is deep offensively, and bruising Flames defensemen Dion Phaneuf (right) and Robyn Regehr can't slow everyone. Expect Sharks left wing Milan Michalek (left) to break out.

THE PICK
Sharks in five

2
4

3 Wild vs. 6 Avalanche
A matchup of great tactical coaches—Minnesota's Jacques Lemaire and Colorado's Joel Quenneville. The Wild need their young stars (Brent Burns, left, is one) to be playoff-ready; the Avalanche need their time-tested veterans (Peter Forsberg, right, is 34) to play with vigor.

THE PICK
Avalanche in seven

6
10

4 Ducks vs. 5 Stars
At 37, does Mike Modano (right) have one more great playoff in him? Not this year. He and fellow scorers Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro go against elite Anaheim checkers Sami Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen, plus snarling backliner Chris Pronger (left).

THE PICK
Ducks in six

3
9

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DAVE SANDFORD/GETTY IMAGES (RED WINGS)

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JOHN RUSSELL/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (PREDATORS)

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KYLE TERADA/US PRESSWIRE (SHARKS)

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DAVE REGINEK/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (FLAMES)

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GERRY THOMAS/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (WILD)

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DAVID E. KLUTHO (AVALANCHE)

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BRUCE KLUCKHOHN/NHLI/GETTY IMAGES (DUCKS)

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JIM MCISAAC/GETTY IMAGES (STARS)

NINE ILLUSTRATIONS