The Dallas Morning News

WESTERN CONFERENCE

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Blackhawks vs. Predators

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa are just part of the veteran group that propelled the Blackhawks down the stretch to the West’s top record. Nashville’s record (41-29-12) was nearly identical to last season’s mark, but the Predators made one big change: P.K. Subban replaced Shea Weber as their top defenseman.

Mike Heika’s prediction:

Chicago was one of the hottest teams in the second half. Nashville still seems to be missing something. Blackhawks in 5

Wild vs. Blues

Minnesota was cruising toward the Central Division title before a late-season slump, while the Blues surged into the postseason after firing coach Ken Hitchcock and trading top defenseman Kevin Shattenkir­k. Both teams are regular playoff qualifiers, but both are hoping for a breakthrou­gh this spring after years of disappoint­ment. Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk has excelled against Vladimir Tarasenko and the Blues’ scorers.

Mike Heika’s prediction: St. Louis went 15-2-2 to finish the season and seems to have found its stride. Blues in 6

Ducks vs. Flames

The Ducks, Pacific Division champions five times running, bring a 25-game regular-season home winning streak against the Flames into this series. But the series rests heavily on Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler and the rest of Anaheim’s veteran core, which simply hasn’t been able to finish. The Ducks have lost a Game 7 at home in each of the last four postseason­s, including last year against Nashville in the first round.

Mike Heika’s prediction:

Ducks finished season 11-0-3 and should overwhelm scrappy Flames. Ducks in 5

Oilers vs. Sharks

At age 20, Connor McDavid won the NHL scoring title and led Edmonton back to the postseason after a 10-year absence. The Oilers even finished above the Sharks, who have much the same team that won the West last season. San Jose might be far from full strength: Centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture are out with injuries, and it’s unclear when they’ll return.

Mike Heika’s prediction:

Sharks have experience, but Oilers have speed. Oilers in 7

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