Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Jarret Bailey, Sports Writer

It’s officially playoff time in the NHL. It’s the time of year when hits get harder, shots come quicker, and fuses get shorter. It’s a time of great traditions like team towels waving and playoff beards. What started in October with 32 teams has now shrunk to just 16, and there is only one thing on the minds of every player and coach; the fabled sterling silver cup of Lord Stanley. But when all is said and done, only one team can hold the Stanley Cup over their heads and sit atop the NHL mountaintop as champions. With that being said, it’s time for some predictions.

When looking at the East, most people look and pick the Rangers. After all, they are the Number 1 seed in the East and did win the President’s Trophy as the team with the most points in the NHL. Or maybe the Canadiens, who weren’t very far behind. And i’m extremely tempted to pick the Islanders in a possible New York vs. New York Eastern Conference Finals. With that said, I’m going with arguably the hottest team in the NHL; Ottawa. The Senators made NHL history by becoming the first team to make the playoffs after being 14 games out of the picture earlier this season. After finishing the regular season going 21-3-3 in their final 27 games, the Sens are borderline unstoppable. The Senators got great play from a ton of players, but I’m focused on the two players who carried this team through the final 27 games; Mark Stone and Goaltender Andrew Hammond. Stone was second on the team in both goals (26) and points (64), and he’s only a rookie. Now to Hammond. “The Ham-Burglar”, as his fans have nicknamed him, has been absolutely astonishing since taking over for Chris Anderson, going 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA (Goals Against Average) and a .941 save percentage in 24 games. Now, both Stone and Hammond have been incredible this season, but we must not forget former Norris Trophy winner, and captain of the Senators, Erik Karlsson, who lead the team in points and gave great leadership throughout the entire season. When you combine all of this with the talent of role players like Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman, you have a team who is poised to be a Cinderella team and make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The West is a little more tight and competitive than the East, in my opinion. But, after looking it over, I’m going with the Ducks. Although I think the Blackhawks are a great team with incredible talent, I think the Ducks persevere in the West. That one-two punch of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry is still one of the best in the NHL, as they combined for 125 points during the regular season. Plus, they got an unlikely star in goaltender Frederik Andersen, who went 35-12-5 with a 2.38 GAA and a .914 save percentage. I love this team’s ethic and heart, and they are a very well-rounded team. It’s going to take a total team effort to beat the Blackhawks in the Conference Finals (assuming they get that far), but I think that the Ducks are capable of doing it. With great depth and great goaltending, the Ducks are my Western Conference Stanley Cup pick.

So, now that that’s out of the way, who do I like to win it all? I’m going with Ottawa in seven games. I think that their all around talent and depth is going to be too much for the Ducks. The playoffs are just beginning, though. So, let’s just enjoy this action as it unwinds and see who has what it takes to become champions.

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