Who will be moving on to the Stanley Cup? Here are my predictions for what goes down in the Eastern Conference Finals and Western Conference Finals:
(1) New York Rangers vs. (2) Tampa Bay Lightning: The Rangers really know how to induce heart attacks for even their most casual spectators. Nonetheless, here they are yet again in a conference final. Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie remaining in the playoffs, but not enough goals are being put into the net by this team. Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis need to emerge if they want to win it all this season.
The Lightning probably have the highest ceiling of any team left in the playoffs, but we are not talking about the future; we’re talking about the present. Ben Bishop has played great, as have Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov. Steven Stamkos hasn’t even been really relied upon yet, but his absence will not cut it against a team like the Rangers. Tampa will need him to play to his superstar abilities in this series.
All in all, this is as evenly-matched of a series as you can probably get. New York has the resilience to go as far as possible while the Lightning have the talent to go for another Stanley Cup. I expect this series to go the distance, but I see my hometown team pulling away in the end.
Lightning in 7
(1) Anaheim Ducks vs. (3) Chicago Blackhawks: The Ducks are as complete as they ever have been. Corey Perry, one of the unsung heroes of the NHL, has played as good as anyone lately. The stats for Anaheim may not jump off the paper, but don’t let those define who this team is. They’ll do the little things that are necessary to get wins.
Since it’s the playoffs, how could we not have the Blackhawks? It seems like Chicago is always making a run for the Stanley Cup and given what they have, it’s not hard to see why. Patrick Kane is playing out of his mind right now. Combine that with Jonathan Toews and the goalkeeping of Corey Crawford and you have a great squad.
Don’t let the 3 seed fool you. The Blackhawks are here to play. And I like them to squeak by a tough Anaheim team.
Blackhawks in 7
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten