Hockey World Blog

Hockey World Blog Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Finals Picks

In a NHL Playoffs that has been unpredictable from the start, even to HWB writers, why not try to predict a little more? Both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals have been determined and we sound off about who our favorite teams are to advance and why.


Eastern Conference Finals – NEW JERSEY DEVILS

I thought the Rangers had a very good chance this season to go all the way, but I believe a rested Devils squad will prove to be too much. After winning their second straight seven-game series, I think physical and mental fatigue will begin to show for the Rangers in the Conference Finals – especially the longer this series drags on. New Jersey has a little more scoring depth, which could be a big difference maker, plus Kovalchuk really appears to be heating up at the right time with seven points in his last four games. New Jersey’s power play is more dangerous as well, converting 20.9 percent of the time compared to 15.8 for the Rangers. In goal, I give the slight edge to Henrik Lundqvist, who has been playing out of his mind this postseason. But I still think that New Jersey’s offense will be able to overcome New York’s defense for the win. Devils in seven.


Western Conference Finals -LOS ANGELES KINGS

After upsetting the top two seeds in the West, it’s tough not to root for the Kings at this point. They took down two of the heavy favorites to win the conference in the first two rounds and I believe they can continue that momentum in the Conference Finals and into the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings play tight defensively and don’t allow their opponents many quality scoring chances during games and I love the way Quick has been playing this postseason. Plus, the Kings have a little more offensive depth with a better goals per game average than Phoenix. The only real problem with LA is their power play, which has struggled mightily, but a playoff-leading penalty kill has helped cover for a weak power play. I think if Richards can continue scoring and if LA gets their power play on track then watch out. I give this series to LA in six.


Eastern Conference Finals – NEW JERSEY DEVILS

The Blue Shirts, New York Rangers, took game seven against an anything but impressive Washington Capitals. The Capitals looked flat, awful, but instead of making the Rangers look good, it left questions of their ability to play a tougher team. That tougher team of course is the New Jersey Devils, an all around team with a veteran goalie in his last few year(s) to win a Stanley Cup. The Devils scorers are scoring, offense putting up points and defense keeping the puck out of the net. Fact, the Rangers best plus/minus rating is at a +3; the Devils have nine players with at least that rating, the highest a +8. Devils all the way and hopefully the Blue Shirts think twice about John Tortorella as Head Coach.

Western Conference Finals – PHOENIX COYOTES

In all honesty, I’m happy for either team. I’ve been a fan of the Phoenix Coyotes for a few years now, taking a lot of heat come playoff time when they faced my hometown team the Detroit Red Wings; losing the last two years. The Los Angeles Kings have more depth but I believe the Coyotes have more heart. Captain Shane Doan has waited a long time for a Stanley Cup, time that is slowly running out (35 years old). Goalie Mike Smith has been playing phenomenal behind a well balanced team. The only thing that can make this series better is if the Kings counter Phoenix’s Whiteout with a Blackout at the STAPLES Center; a battle of Good vs. Evil. Dun dun dun…



Eastern Conference Finals – NEW YORK RANGERS

Joining the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, the Rangers could become the third team in the last five seasons to play in both the Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup Final the same season. All three teams won the Winter Classic and in case of Detroit and Pittsburgh lost the Cup final. This could become an intense series that could prove to be a grind for both teams considering they already played each other six times this season and are geographic rivals. New Jersey has played 11 playoff games and New York 14, so if the Rangers could find a way to avoid a Game 7 the series could prove to be in their favor. If Rangers tend to believe destiny and fate, the last time the Rangers played hockey this late into the postseason they defeated the Capitals in the second round and took on the Devils in the Conference final in 1994.

Western Conference Finals -LOS ANGELES KINGS

While it looks like the No. 3 and No. 8 seeds playing against each other in the conference finals, it could have easily been Los Angeles with the No. 3 seed as they were in a close battle with Phoenix and Los Angeles in the division standings only to come up two points short. Halfway through the playoffs, the Kings have looked like a different team than in the regular season based on the way they dispatched Vancouver and St. Louis. Quick has looked like an early candidate for the Conn Smythe halfway through the playoffs and if he can continue to play the way he has, he can lead the Kings to the final. Of the four teams left, a Rangers vs. Kings final could turn out to be marketing gold for the league if they want to attract the big media market and the casual hockey fan.



Eastern Conference Finals – NEW YORK RANGERS

Both offensively and defensively, the Rangers have what it takes to beat the Devils. Led by Brad Richards, who leads the league in shots on goal in the playoffs, the Rangers squad has speed, skill and depth. Between the pipes, Henrik Lundqvist has been nothing short of stellar. Things are coming together at the right time for the Rangers, and their all around game should be easily capable of fending off the Devils.

Western Conference Finals – LOS ANGELES KINGS

While the Coyotes have had an incredible run knocking off two very good teams, the Kings have actually topped that. By eliminating both the Canucks and Blues, Los Angeles has marked themselves as the team to beat in this years Stanley Cup Playoffs. The addition of Carter and Richards to a team already featuring Kopitar, Brown, and standout goalie Jonathan Quick, marks them as my favorite not only for the Conference Finals, but for the Stanley Cup as well.

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