1) New York Rangers vs. 6) New Jersey Devils
It feels like 1994 again. For the first time since 2006, the Eastern Conference Final is another chapter in The Battle of the Hudson River. You may take a PATH train to get to the game, but there will be bad blood in this series. Will the Devils exorcise the demons of Messier’s Game 6 Guarantee and the haunting memory of “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” from Game 7? Or will the Rangers do what they did in 1994 again? Here’s what I think will happen: it will be like 1994 again.
Prediction: NYR in 7
3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. 8) Los Angeles Kings
No one expected these two Pacific Division rivals to meet in the Western Conference Final. But they are here. And they are evenly matched. Both teams rely on good goaltending and solid defense. They also both rely on physical play. But in the playoffs, the Coyotes beat 2 teams with different styles of play. The Kings beat teams that had GOOD, but not GREAT goaltending. Mike Smith has proven to be great in the playoffs, but Jonathan Quick has been greater than great, only losing once in the playoffs. The Kings have all the pieces coming together. They look like the most complete team out of the four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the current playoff format, no team had to beat all 3 division champions in their conference en route to the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings could make history this year if they could find a way past the pesky Coyotes.
Prediction: LA in 6