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Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Jarrett Bailey, Sports Writer

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It is the middle of April. The NHL regular season is over. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here. A time where the checks are harder, the fans are louder, and the stakes are at an all-time high. This is the time where players watch their every move and play like every play like it’s their last; because in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it very well could be. That said, here are my predictions for the participants in the Finals.

East: I have the Penguins coming out of the Eastern conference. The Pens ended the regular season has the hottest team in hockey, winning 14 of their final 16 games. The talent on this team is outrageous. They had four guys score 20 or more goals, a Norris trophy candidate in Kris Letang, and outstanding play from unexpected players. Overall, they are an outstanding team. We saw Sidney Crosby play like a mad man during the second half of the season, ending the year with 36 goals and 45 assists. Out of everything, the one thing that blows me away is the play of acquisitions via trade and the young guys who came out of nowhere and have played phenomenal. Trevor Daley, Carl Hagelin, and Justin Schultz. All three of those guys were brought over via trades, and all three have played incredible in their own way. Daley and Schultz proved to be a key penalty killers, and Daley was a force on the power play. Hagelin is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL and quickly became a fan-favorite in the ‘Burgh. One guy to watch out for is Connor Sheary. Sheary is so elusive with his stick handling and is a perfect example of a young player taking advantage of an opportunity. When Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury come back and are rejoined with guys such as Crosby, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist, there is no team that can stop them.

 

West: I’m going with the Stars to win the West. While the Sharks are also on others’ radars, the Sharks never seem to be able to make it far in the playoffs. Dallas has a great roster full of talent, including Jamie Benn. Benn led the team in goals (41), assists (48), and points (87) and is one of the best goal scorers in the game today. With a supporting cast made up of Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza, both 30-goal scorers this season, the Stars are a stacked team. You also got Patrick Sharp in there as well as Cody Eakin as a guy who brings durability and speed to the unit. One guy to keep n eye out for in this series is defenseman John Klingberg. The Stars blue-liner tied Benn for the team lead in assists with 48 of his own on the year, along with adding 10 goals. I like Kari Lehtonen in the crease. He’s been stable all year long with a 25-10-2 record to go along with a 2.76 goals against average. The Stars are a well balanced team, and I think that they will be able to come out of the West if all goes well.

If this does occur, I’m going to go with the Penguins in 6 games. I think that the overall firepower that the Pens have will be to overwhelming for Dallas to handle. I think that they are both very even-matched teams, but when Fleury does come back, I like the Penguins chances over the Stars’.

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