Although we’re all still questioning and dealing with the grief of the Stanley Cup being out of reach in New York, the show must go on. It’s moving on without our Rangers, and quite quickly at that. Tonight starts the Western Conference Final, and the battle for the East begins tomorrow night.
Many of the staff here at BSB are dealing with the undeniable sadness of seeing a defeated Henrik Lundqvist, and simply cannot think about the future of this playoffs at present time. Three of us were able to pull together the courage to get our predictions out there. As always, leave yours in the comments.
Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Dave: PIT in 6 — If the Penguins had Letang this would be a sweep for me, but no Letang means the Pens likely lose a few games. Ottawa shouldn’t have beaten the Rangers. Even though they did, I still don’t buy them as more than Erik Karlsson and a mediocre team. That will piss Becky off something fierce, but I do want the Sens to win. I’m sick of the Penguins winning. I just don’t think they can do it.
Rob: PIT in 7 — Erik Karlsson has already made a legitimate Conn Smythe case, and the Senators are only halfway through a potential Stanley Cup run. He was certainly the difference – along with some puck luck – in his team’s victory over our beloved Blueshirts. As I write this, I remain astounded that the Capitals lost to the Penguins, who I just don’t believe are as good as last year’s edition. If Ottawa has proven one thing, it’s that they can keep games close and swing momentum in their favor quickly. Pittsburgh’s possession numbers, even accounting for a small sample size, are brutal. All of that is a recipe for a close series, but I do believe the Penguins’ superior talent makes the difference in a Game 7 at home.
Becky: OTT in 6 — Fam, I am SO SICK of not giving the Sens any credit. Should the Rangies have won the last series? Sure. But spoiler alert: the Penguins had no business beating the Capitals, either. I think the Senators delight in being the underdogs, and though the Penguins are faster (yikes), I take Craig Anderson over Marc Andre Fleury any day of the week, and twice on Tuesdays. Barring Erik Karlsson’s foot actually separating from his body, you aren’t stopping him. Plus, Dave giving the Sens no credit seems to be working for them.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators
Dave: NSH in 6 — I’m officially on the Nashville bandwagon. That blue line is so, so good. And as long as Rinne continue to stop shots at a 95% clip, then Anaheim won’t be able to generate much. However the problem is that Rinne isn’t a .950 SV% goalie. If that drops, the offense is going to need to convert a few more opportunities. But like Ottawa, I’m not sold as Anaheim. And like Ottawa, I think they are here more due to luck than due to being a good team.
Rob: NSH in 5 — The Predators are an easy team for a neutral fan to fall in love with. They’re the new kid on the block, but they’re also a legitimate Cup contender, with the best blue line of the remaining teams. Anaheim is solid, but relies very heavily on the performance of their top players, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. If the Predators can keep those two in check, they’ll win this series well before it reaches its 7 game limit.
Becky: ANA in 6 — I really enjoy Nashville and want them to win, but I have a nagging feeling that Anaheim will be coming out of the West. I don’t necessarily think they are the *better team*, but the cross country trips will take a toll on the young Preds. I do think the Preds will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, with that defense and such dynamic young forwards. Fingers crossed PK Subban makes it to the finals, if for no other reason than to watch Mike Milbury be totally irritated by it.