2013 Western Conference first-round matchups are set

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Saturday presented a range of emotions for Western Conference fans, who went from crossing their fingers for preferable seeding to pondering all the ways two teams will exploit each others’ weaknesses.

Here are the four quarterfinal matchups in the West in 2013:

1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. 8) Minnesota Wild

The Blackhawks haven’t played against a Minnesota team in the postseason since the North Stars knocked them out 4-2 in 1991. (Click here for a little more on this series.)

2) Anaheim Ducks vs. 7) Detroit Red Wings

As former Ducks blogger Earl Sleek points out, the two teams have had a quirky tendency to meet in odd playoff years. They’ve met in 1997, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2009 and now 2013. In fact, Mike Babcock once coached a lower-seed Anaheim team against a favored Red Wings squad and now finds himself in the opposite situation.

3) Vancouver Canucks vs. 6) San Jose Sharks

The last time these two teams faced off, the Canucks beat the Sharks 4-1 in the 2011 Western Conference finals. You may recall the bizarre Kevin Bieksa goal that ended that series in OT.

4) St. Louis Blues vs. 5) Los Angeles Kings

The Kings might go into this series as the favorites despite the lower seed. They swept the Blues in the two teams’ 2012 playoff series and swept this season’s three games to boot (winning by at least two goals in every contest in 2013).