Who Will Win The Stanley Cup
Now that the first round of the Stanley Cup Finals are a few games in we have already learned a lot about the final 16 teams still alive. The Capitals, who had little to play for the last month of the regular season, have had excellent goaltending thus far and look as dominant in the postseason as they did in the regular season. They are up 2-0 on the Flyers. The defending champion Blackhawks are still playing a up and down game and could very easily be out in the first round now that they are down 2-1 to the Blues. In California, the favored Ducks and Kings have both lost home ice and have looked very shaky thus far. With the Stanley Cup playoffs still unfolding, our GPS tracking experts have made their updated predictions on who will be holding up Lord Stanley come June!
Dallas Stars & Minnesota Wild
The Stars have taken a commanding 2-0 lead over the Wild have dominated the series every second. The top-seeded team in the west has looked sharp and is very much a contender, but their lack of playoff experience could be an issue deep in the playoffs. Not to mention, the Stars don't have a top 5 goalie and that could be huge when the Stars play a real contender in the next rounds. Sorry Minnesota fans, but you're done this year.
Prediction: Stars in 5
St. Louis Blues & Chicago Blackhawks
This series has been everything as advertised so far. Game one was a overtime thriller that ended on a fluke goal. The Blues controlled game 2 until a tough offsides call resulted in a disallowed goal and shifted momentum which resulted in a Blackhawks win. Game 3 had the Blackhawks in total control until another lucky bounce by the Blues tied the game and 4 minute double minor on Patrick Kane allowed the Blues to capitalize late for the 3-2 win. Both of these teams are fantastic and loaded with talent. These teams don't give up so expect a long series and whoever the winner is to be a real threat for the Stanley Cup.
Prediction: Blues in 7
Anaheim Ducks & Nashville Predators
The Ducks have been playing great after a cold start to open the season but everyone seems to have forgotten how terrific Nashville played down the stretch. Unfortunately for the Ducks they are now finding out just how good Nashville is. In the playoffs offense gets overshadowed by goaltending and Rinne is the best goalie on the ice for either team. The Predators have taken control of home ice and have the Ducks completely flustered. Nashville is certainly a dark horse to win it all while the Ducks are fading fast yet again.
Prediction: Predators in 6
Los Angeles Kings & San Jose Predators
The Kings limped into the playoffs after choking a 3-0 lead to Winnipeg which would have given them the divisional crown and they continue to limp. Down 0-2 to the Sharks and heading back to San Jose, the Kings find themselves in serious trouble. Yes, the Kings came back from these same Sharks down 0-3 to win the series and eventually the Stanley Cup but don't count on that happening again. Also, don't forget if their is one team that wants to end the Kings season more than any NHL team it's the Sharks and they are poised to do so. But if they can get by the Kings their multitude of weaknesses could be exposed by some of the other western conference contenders. Beating the Kings and avenging the collapse of two years ago might be the ceiling for these Sharks.
Prediction: Sharks in 6
Washington Capitals & Philadelphia Flyers
Nobody expected much of the young Flyers this season but they got hot late and took the last spot in the playoffs. It's been a good year for the Flyers, but it's been a great year for Washington. The overall top seed Capitals have looked great in this series and have led wire-to-wire, taking a 2-0 lead. The Capitals are loaded and the Flyers will learn from this series and be a better team next season but the ceiling for Philadelphia is salvaging a game at home because this series is over. The Capitals have all the tools to make a deep run and the Flyers are only a speed bump in the road for Washington.
Prediction: Capitals in 4
Pittsburgh Penguins & New York Rangers
Two great teams with all-world players, but also two teams missing some key players. The Penguins are one of the hottest teams in the NHL but they have a third string goaltender in net. Th Rangers sill have the King in net but have two of their best players on IR. The series is tied 1-1 and the only thing certain is that this will not be a short series. This is a coin toss series that will have many momentum swings. Yes the Penguins have Crosby and now Malkin is back on the ice but the playoffs are about defense and goalies, and when the choice is Henrik Lundqviest or a third stringer I have to give the edge to the All-Star.
Prediction: Rangers in 7
Florida Panthers & New York Islanders
The surprise story of the year has to be the rise of good hockey by the Florida Panthers and play by AARP player Jaromir Jagr. The Panthers have been solid all year and have some seasoned players that can help them, but the Panthers special teams play has weaknesses and that's a big problem in the postseason. The Islanders may not have great goaltending but they can score and have more experience. The Isles may not be Stanley Cup contenders but they should get by Florida in the first round.
Prediction: Islanders in 6
Tampa Bay Lightning & Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings barely made the postseason while the Tampa Bay Lightning are seeking a return trip to the Stanley Cup Finals so why are many experts picking the Red Wings for the upset? The answer is injuries. Tampa is banged up but missing key players hasn't stopped Tampa Bay from storming out to a 2-1 series lead. Can the Red Wings catch fire and upset the Lighting? Sure but they certainly don't have the roster to make a deep push. Tampa has experience, depth and zero questions about who is the goalie. Detroit may be the nostalgic pick but they aren't the smart one.
Prediction: Lightning in 6
Stanley Cup Prediction
The most talented teams in the west that will be left standing after round 1 will be the Blues and Stars. Dallas has offense and skill players, whereas St. Louis has hard-hitters and the best goalie in the Western Conference. Give me Elliot and the Blues. St. Louis is a terrific team and have had the tough draw of the Blackhawks or Kings the past 4-5 years. Years those teams won the Stanley Cup. Losing to championship caliber teams is not a bad thing and all those tough losses will result in a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals where they will face ....
The Washington Capitals
Washington is going to get by the Flyers and will face a tough test in the winner of the Penguins/Rangers series. But extra rest for the Capitals and home ice will be enough for them to push through to the Finals. The Capitals are a top 5 offensive and defensive team while also sporting a award-winning goalie. Holtby looks sharp, Ovechekin is dialed in and the veteran Capitals are over due for a championship.
Stanley Cup Final Prediction
Capitals in 5