Bryan Altman , CBS Local Sports The most wonderful time of the year is unquestionably playoff hockey time, which begins tonight and will remain with us for the better part of the next two months. So now that the playoff field is set, we can all begin to mentally prepare ourselves for the inevitable overtime marathons, the game-seven heartaches and the paralyzing nervousness that generally exists non-stop throughout each game. That and we can try and suss out exactly who is going to make it into the second round and who will be hitting the links before the month of April is over. Yesterday we tackled the Eastern Conference so let’s take a look at the Western Conference’s first round matchups. Blackhawks vs Predators Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis all had a crack at the Central Division title knowing full well that if they didn’t win it they would be stuck in a nightmarish first-round matchup against the other runner-up. That’s exactly the fate that has befallen the Predators as their prize for putting up a 104-point season is a date with the 2013 and 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. It’s hard to imagine that the Blackhawks are thrilled that they’ll have such a daunting first-round matchup, but us fans should surely be excited as this is the marquee battle of the first round.