TMS Staff predictions for Lord Stanley's Cup
The most wonderful time of the year is in our midst.
Winter has had its last laugh (we think), the flowers are blooming and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway.
After a couple months of hard-nosed battling, the most beautiful trophy in all of sports will be handed out: Lord Stanley's Cup.
The NHL Playoffs started Wednesday, and some Miami Student writers are giving their predictions.
(Disclaimer: All picks were in before the start of the first game)
Each writer has predicted the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final matchups, the Cup winner and the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, which is given to the playoff MVP.
Now that these are in print, all of our sport-related guessing credibility is on the line:
Western Conference Final: Los Angeles Kings over the Chicago Blackhawks in 7
Prediction: In a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals, the Kings look to avenge a Game 5 loss that sent them packing. The Blackhawks return much of their Stanley Cup winning team from last year. Led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews the 'Hawks second-ranked offense has depth throughout its four lines. The 'Hawks also carry a strong defense in their arsenal headed by blue-line stalwarts Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The Kings are looking for their second Stanley Cup in three years after an improbable run as an eighth seed in 2012. The Kings will bank on star goalie Jonathan Quick continuing his impressive postseason play. The Kings will use gritty defense and a grind-it-out style to slow Chicago's offense in a series that will be physically demanding.
Eastern Conference Final: Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins in 7
Prediction: The Bruins are looking to rebound from last year's heartbreaking Stanley Cup Finals loss to the Blackhawks, while the Penguins look for their first Cup since 2009. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara symbolizes much of his team: mean and physical, yet talented; a combination no team wants to face in the playoffs. Pittsburg is easily one of the most talented teams in the NHL when healthy. Over the years, the Penguins have dealt with several injuries to key players, but this year the Penguins are reasonably healthy heading into the playoffs. The series hinges on the play of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury who hasn't had a postseason save percentage over .900 since 2009 when they won the Cup.
Stanley Cup Final: Los Angeles Kings over the Boston Bruins in 6
Prediction: This would be the first time the Kings and Bruins meet in a Stanley Cup Final, and the series would contain winners of two of the past three Cups. During the regular season these two teams met twice, once in Boston and once in LA, with the home team winning both times. Tuukka Rask and Jonathan Quick are two of the best in the business and will battle it out to the end. These teams are neck in neck in terms of defense, with Boston having the edge on offense. The question will be whether or not the Kings can get an offensive spark from forwards such as Jeff Carter or new addition Marion Gaborik. If Quick is on top of his game and the Kings can score they will win the Cup.
Playoff MVP: Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings)
Quick became the winningest goalie in franchise history this year, and if the Kings win the Stanley Cup it will be mainly because of his play. During their 2012 Cup run, Quick had three shutouts with a Goals Against Average of 1.41. If Quick pulls of a similar performance this year he will be a unanimous winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Western Conference Finals: Anaheim Ducks over the St. Louis Blues in 6
The Ducks are a deadly team. They can put the puck in the net and they have a solid goaltending. The Blues have a good team but they just don't match up with the experience and leadership shown from guys like Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf.
Eastern Conference Finals: The Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins in 7
Sorry Jackets fans, they're going to lose. The Bruins have the brute and grit to win this series and make themselves a legitimate contender in the finals. The Penguins are an incredibly skilled team, but the Bruins have beaten skilled teams all year. Fleury just doesn't match up against the garbage goals the Bruins can and will score in this series.
Stanley Cup Final: Anaheim Ducks over the Boston Bruins in 6
The Bruins enter the playoffs in possession of the Presidents' Trophy, given to the team who finishes with the best regular season record, but the Ducks have hit their stride in the later part of the season. The Ducks and Bruins have deep rosters with fourth lines just as capable of first lines. The Ducks are just so capable of scoring goals. From Corey Perry to Saku Koivu, all the way down to blue-liner Cam Fowler.
Playoffs MVP: Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks)
Getzlaf is an experienced player and leader and will lead his team to a Stanley Cup. Getzlaf can do it all and can adjust his game day by day to meet the team's needs. He can step up physically and defensively to settle down the Bruins bruising offense. He can also score goals and set up his linemates. He will lead his team through the West and past the Bruins to win the Cup.
Eastern Conference Finals: Pittsburgh Penguins over Montreal Canadiens in 6
The Penguins should have no problem taking down the Blue Jackets in the first round after sweeping the season series 5-0. With the new playoff format, the Pens would play either the Rangers or Flyers in the second round, and although they struggled with these teams in the regular season this group will figure it out. The Habs have a solid team that can make a run to the conference final, but the Penguins are simply better. I have them beating the Red Wings in round two, which means I have the Bruins falling in round one. As a Sabres fan, I know the President's Trophy guarantees nothing.
Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Kings over Colorado Avalanche in 6
The Kings know how to play at this time of the year, and I think that will be the difference. It will not be an easy road, but I think the Kings will take down San Jose, Anaheim and Colorado en route to the Cup final. Colorado is a team that is on fire, and I think that can carry them to the conference final. The Kings' experience will outlast the youth, but I'm sure the Avalanche will return soon.
Stanley Cup Winner: Pittsburgh over Los Angeles in 7
Both teams know how to win the Cup, but a very talented Pens team hasn't been to the Cup final since 2009. The Pens goaltending in the playoffs was questionable last year, but now they have seemed to groom a quality backup in former Miami goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. Crosby has topped 100 points this season, and the Pens seem to have it all together. Riding on a hot offense, solid defense and reliable goaltending; I think the Cup goes to Pittsburgh.
Playoff MVP: James Neal (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Simply because Crosby and Malkin are too obvious to pick.
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