The month of April is one of the most exciting times in the sports world. The NBA and NHL playoffs begin, baseball season is just starting up and the NFL Draft is right around the corner. Where the other sports lack in drama at this time, the NHL playoffs provide it in great amounts. In yet another collaboration between our writers, here are our picks for the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy, also known as the playoff MVP. Kevin didn’t submit a prediction because he doesn’t pay attention to hockey, which makes me sad.
It’s way too easy to pick Chicago to take home the Cup again, so I’m going to stray away from that idea. I think that making a deep run in terms of hockey is dependent upon two things- good goaltending, and how you are playing in your last 10-ish games leading into the playoffs. That being said, I have the Dallas Stars over the Florida Panthers 4 games to 1.
Jaromir Jagr seems like he will never slow down, but he’s not a one-man team- he’s one of 8 Panthers to score 15 or more goals this season. Roberto Luongo, though known for shitting the bed in 2011, is a solid playoff goaltender in his own right, owning a .916 career save percentage. However, the duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, along with the experience of Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya will be too much for Luongo to handle. Dallas’ two solid goaltenders, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, give them an advantage to roll with the hot hand on any given night.
No stranger to the big stage (like during the last Winter Olympic Games), I think Jamie Benn will be this year’s Conn Smythe.
Detroit Red Wings over the St. Louis Blues in six. This marks the 25th straight year of playoff games for Detroit. They ride Jimmy Howard and Peter Mrazek in net. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg get help from the young players Tomas Tatar, Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou. Datsyuk wins the Conn Smythe as he plays in his last NHL game.
*disclaimer* Gabe is from Detroit so he’s biased
From the East I am picking the New York Islanders, don’t let Okposo and Tavares get hot. They’ll be quite the Cinderella Story making their way through the East only to run into the West. The champion will come out of the West and there is no doubt in my mind.
I’m going to pick the Los Angeles Kings as my Stanley Cup Champion. The Blackhawks and Stars are great don’t get me wrong but the Kings will catch fire behind the goaltending of Jonathan Quick and the defensive play of Drew Doughty.
Los Angeles Kings over the New York Islanders in 7 games
Conn Smythe: Jonathan Quick
Starting in the Eastern Conference, obviously it’s the playoffs so each team should feel they are worthy of making it to the Stanley Cup but I believe the only team that will make it all the way there is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although Florida is a good team, they have a tough matchup against the streaking Islanders. They will make it through the first round. With Tampa Bay and Detroit, it really comes up to if the Lightning step up with Stamkos out. If Bishop is solid in net they win the series. The Capitals will beat the Flyers. And finally Pittsburgh will take care on the Rangers. In the Eastern Conference Finals, I would take Pittsburgh over whoever wins the Lightning Red Wings series.
In the Western Conference, the best series that I have as the most questionable is when Anaheim moves forward to play LA in the Western Conference Semifinals. Whoever wins that game will go on to play the Breadman and company and lose because Chicago will play Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Final. Chicago has been too hard to handle lately. Their rookie Artemi Panarin just hit 30 goals and is playing with the owner of the scoring title in the NHL in Patrick Kane.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they upset Pittsburgh but I think the Penguins streak has a little more left in it to bring Lorde Stanley’s Cup back to Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby bringing home the Conn Smythe.
Much like Tyler, I didn’t want to pick Chicago because it’s too basic. But I’m not going too far off a limb by choosing the Los Angeles Kings over the Pittsburgh Penguins in a thrilling seven game series. It’s a battle between two teams with contrasting styles.
LA plays a heavy game with power forward like Dustin Brown and Milan Lucic. The offense relies primarily in Anze Kopitar, one of the most underrated players in the game, and budding star Tyler Toffoli. The Kings still have defenseman and potential future Hall of Famer Drew Doughty, who is still the best defenseman in the league in my opinion and Jonathan Quick, who is still the best goalie in the league.
Pittsburgh might be the hottest team in the NHL, despite playing without Evgeni Malkin down the stretch. Sidney Crosby leads a high flying Penguins offense that also features Phil Kessel, Kris Letang and Chris Kunitz.
I think the Kings recent experience in big games and their strong goaltending will get them past the Penguins with Jonathan Quick taking home the Conne Smythe.
Agree with our picks or have picks of your own? Leave a comment below!
Cover Photo via OnlyAGame.wbur.org