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Western Final Poll/Watch Thread; Plus: Cizikas loses heartbreaker

Yo, Czech this out.
Yo, Czech this out.

Both Islanders junior prospects who contested CHL league titles this month fell short. This afternoon Casey Cizikas and the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors (takes breath) dropped the OHL Final Game 7 to Owen Sound in a tough one, losing 3-2 just three minutes into OT. Unlike Nino Niederreiter, whose junior career probably ended with WHL finals heartbreak, Cizikas and the Majors at least get to do it again this weekend as they host the Memorial Cup.

In other big hockey today, Finland took the gold medal over fierce rivals Sweden, while the Czechs took the consolation bronze by defeating Russia 7-4 -- a result that never gets old for a Czech. Jesse Joensuu officially finished the tourney with zero games played.

For eyes cast toward the NHL, WebBard updated our LHH Playoff Pool (I can't bear to reflect on my poor showing). And tonight, the Campbell Western Conference final begins, so redeem yourself by calling this one in the poll after the jump. Also, consider this tonight's Game 1 thread if you're watching.

Van-slim_medium Sj-slim_medium
(1) Canucks vs. (2) Sharks
Season Series: Van 2 W, 1 SOW; SJ 1 SOW
Mutual History: None, so some choke has to break
SBN locales of anxiety and hope: Nucks Misconduct | Fear the Fin

Vancouver is here after almost blowing it all in a big way in Round 1. San Jose is here after almost blowing it all in a big way in Round 2. Collectively, you have two strong teams who the narratives and small samples of playoff history makes this a battle of Chokey McChokerton versus Charles Von Chookergaard.

Someone has to win, and earn the right to choke in the finals against the underdog from the East.

Again, these are two strong teams, both fun to watch. They're deep, they've got exciting offensive stars and less heralded two-way players, and neither blueline is made of slouches. In short, they are teams deserving of a conference finals appearance.

To add to the excitement, both have proven that even if one team goes up 3-0 in the series, it ain't over. Antti Niemi somehow has never lost an NHL playoff series.

The Sharks are almost grateful to be going into a series they aren't "supposed to" win. The Canucks are grateful to be going into another series that doesn't feature Blackhawks.

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Pick 'Em

Well, my performance in the LHH Playoff Pool has been miserable, but at least so far I've called the Western Conference right.

In this series, as a fan I don't ever want to see Dan(n)y Heatley win a Cup after Lindros-ing his way to contender situations, but I don't care if he falls short in the semifinal or final. Meanwhile, several of the Canucks rub me wrong. Ultimately, I'm just hoping for an entertaining series of great hockey -- it should be -- and I'll try to forget the characters involved.

Heart says: Series goes to Game 7 OT. Head says: Vancouver wins in seven.

How 'bout you? Let's hear your picks.