Vancouver wakes up this morning on top of the Northwest world but without a confirmed opponent for the first round.
We spent the past few weeks assuming it was going to be Chicago. After wrapping up the division yesterday (hitting 100 points for the fifth time in franchise history), it looked like the Jackets. When Columbus failed to beat the Wild, it looked like Anaheim would overpower the Coyotes for sixth place. They failed too.
Which sets up today's far easier scenario: if the Blues beat the Avs, then it's St. Louis. If they don't, it's Columbus. No matter what, both are going to draw a division champ.
Make no mistake: either opponent won't be a cakewalk. St. Louis has all the momentum in the hockey world and Columbus has a deep offense that should concern most teams.
But if anyone out there thinks Vancouver is the desirable, easy opponent of the top eight in the West, they haven't been paying attention. The Canucks haven't been scored on in seven periods. Their deep defense has shored up its holes and begun scoring. Up front they don't just have two potent lines but a host of threats in the bottom six (Pyatt, Hansen, Bernier, Wellwood, Raymond). Oh and a resurgent Rypien. They're rolling into the playoffs solid as a rock and won't make life pleasant for whoever is on the other end of the ice.
But we have one day to discuss the pros and cons, so what say you?