Here’s my predictions for the Conference Finals:
M3) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. A2) Ottawa Senators
This will be the fifth time the Penguins and the Senators will meet in the playoffs. The Sens beat the Pens in 5 in 2007, but the Pens have won the last three playoff series; a four-game sweep in 2008, a 4-2 series win in 2010, and most recently a 4-1 series win in 2013. Now despite being shorthanded on the blue line, the Penguins have found ways to win against the two toughest teams from their own division. Battle tested, they now a team that’s proven that they can shut down teams with a stifling defensive structure. I believe that experience is probably the the key to the series, and that advantage goes to the defending Stanley Cup champions, who look to advance to their fourth Stanley Cup Final in the last 10 years.
Prediction: PIT in 6
P1) Anaheim Ducks vs. WWC2) Nashville Predators
This’ll be the third time the Predators and the Ducks will meet in a playoff series. Both times, the Preds got the best of the Ducks; a six-game series in 2011, and a 7-game series last year. This postseason, the Predators are proving everyone wrong…INCLUDING MYSELF. The Preds are the most complete team left in the playoffs. They finally have an established first line (the JOFA line), they have the best defensive core, and their goaltender is practically unstoppable. This is a team that beat two of the most successful teams in the Central Division, and now have their sights to reach uncharted territory: the Stanley Cup Final. For the Ducks, they finally exorcised the demons that were a Game 7 at home after dropping Game 6 on the road against the Oilers. However, a quick turnaround will benefit the Ducks for Game 1 tomorrow night, because they are running off of momentum that was a tight-checking, low-scoring Game 7. If the Ducks want to get to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 10 years, they need to use their physicality wisely to shred down the Predators. It is something the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t do, and the St. Louis Blues didn’t do. They also need to find a way to win in arguably one of the most intimidating arenas in hockey right now — Bridgestone Arena, where the Preds have never lost up to this point (5-0, with only 6 goals allowed combined).
Prediction: NSH in 6