Thursday, May 30, 2013

Previewing the Conference Finals

It is really hard to do this, but I feel I have to.

The Conference Finals are set. In the East, we have the Boston Bruins against that team up in Pennsylvania. In the West, the Chicago Blackhawks, who rallied to beat the Detroit Red Wings, is playing the defending champion LA Kings.

This is the first time I'm blogging how I choose these winners, so this is a breakdown. I compare the Offenses, Defenses, Goaltending, and Special Teams, with Miscellaneous as a tiebreaker. So, lets begin.

EAST: #1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #4 Boston Bruins
Offense: Pittsburgh. Crosby, Malkin, Iginla et al. vs. Marchand, Lucic and Bergeron? Um, no.
Defense: Even. These are two contrasting styles. Pittsburgh has an offensive D, while Boston plays extremely defensively. They are both effective, though, and it's hard to choose a winner.
Goaltending: Boston. Tomas Vokoun has been good, but Caps fans know how that can change. Tuuka Rask has been consistent all year, and is really Boston's only hope for shutting down the Pens.
Special Teams: Even. This will be a battle between Pittsburgh's power play and Boston's penalty killing. If both play to their potential, this will be tough to call.
Prediction: Pittsburgh in 7. This comes down to home-ice advantage. Pittsburgh may overcome Boston's D, although Boston certainly has a chance of knocking these guys out.

WEST: #1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #5 Los Angeles Kings
Offense: Chicago. Both offenses have played well, but Chicago showed how dangerous they can be against Detroit. They have the advantage here.
Defense: Even. The tandem of Keith and Seabrook were extremely important for the Hawks against the Wings. Like the Eastern series, this is a battle of offensive D and defensive D.
Goaltending: Los Angeles. Corey Crawford has been good this year, but Jonathan Quick has been even better.
Special Teams: Even. Both teams have underperforming special teams squads. Playing to their potential, it will still be too close to call.
Prediction: Chicago in 7. This comes down to one thing: can the Blackhawks beat Jonathan Quick? Jimmy Howard was very good and nearly stemmed the Hawks, but Chicago prevailed in the end. The Kings have a good chance to beat the Blackhawks, but if Chicago can play like they did in Games 5-7 of the Detroit series, they will win.

You heard it first from me... the Stanley Cup Finals will be...

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #1 Pittsburgh Penguins.

I'm already excited (even though the Caps aren't playing).

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