Last week, fellow writer Stephen Stoneman (@Stonemanstephen) asked members of THW who they thought would make it to the Stanley Cup Finals and who the eventual victor would be.
While the picks were submitted before the Stanley Cup playoffs even started, the majority seemed to favor the Rangers or Penguins coming out of the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, there was a lot of parity for the Western Conference selections as the Blues, Predators, Canucks, and Sharks were picked to make it out of the West.
With the Stanley Cup playoffs well under way there may be some clear cut winners for Round 1, but the old adage of “it’s not over until it’s over” holds ground, especially when Lord Stanley’s Cup is at stake.
Here’s the breakdown of THW’s Stanley Cup thoughts and predictions:
I agree with Adrian. I see a Rangers – Vancouver finals, with the boys in Blue having a nice parade. They are a deep team with the best goalie around. I would like to take Pittsburgh, but I think the Philly series will cripple them. Pitt will win the series, but will lose a few key players. NYR will have an easier first couple of rounds and the same goes for Vancouver. Prediction: New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup.
- Penguins Vs. Predators (but Preds may be everyone’s “underdog”, so I might just have to pick the Kings!).
Managing Editor – Jim Neveau
- Pittsburgh vs. Vancouver, with the Penguins winning. Their offense is great, and I think MAF has it in him to be dominant. Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
- Boston over San Jose. I think the Sharks have been unlucky and have underachieved, but the West is COMPLETELY up in the air and if they can kill penalties at even a modest rate, they’ll surprise. Their first-round matchup with the Blues (who they’re 0-4 against this year) is a perfect trap series. The Sharks also have experience and talent to spare. In the East, Boston: They’re being (woefully) overlooked by pundits. Everyone talks about them losing Recchi & Ryder, but they gained Seguin and even more production from Marshy & Bergy. I think they can win a seven game series against ANY team in the East (including Pitt.) as they have Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara – two of the most dominant goal-preventing players in the League. Prediction: Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup.
- Mark Ascione: Ok, based on little research or evidence, Chicago over Pittsburgh. With Vancouver and Detroit being “upset” in the first round, Chicago’s experience carries them past St. Louis and Nashville. Pittsburgh has enough scoring and goaltending, but I think they will wear down too much against team such as the Flyers, Rangers, and Boston. Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.
- Caitlin Campbell: St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins. St. Louis has some of the best goaltending in the league with Halak and Elliot. I think they’ve been underestimated by fans in the East (myself included), but I still think they are a very determined bunch. On the other hand, the Bruins want to prove themselves again. They didn’t end the season very well, had the Tim Thomas situation, and were blown out in a few games. I still think that the Bruins will come out strong and when Tim Thomas is on his game he can be one of the most difficult goalies to match up against. Also, the Bruins will rough up their opponents if need be, so Boston gets the toughness edge.
- Marcy Di Michele: East Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins; West Winner: Vancouver Canucks. Pittsburgh is one of the deepest teams in the Eastern Conference and when the team is fully healthy, their star power is hard to beat. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks’ recent personnel moves solved some of their depth moves. The Canucks are extremely motivated and want to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals in order to finish what they started. Prediction: Even though the Canucks and Penguins have similar make-ups and are two very well coached teams, I’m going with Pittsburgh on this one. The Penguins stars will have to be better than the Canucks’ stars and Marc-Andre Fluery will have to out-duel Roberto Luongo. Prediction: Pittsburgh will prevail in 7.
- Andrew Eide: I see Pittsburgh over Nashville. I’m going to swallow the Kool-Aid on the Preds, it’s a tough swallow but it could be their year (which means we’ll have to put up with Honkey Tonk all next year). In the East, with Sidney Crosby back, I believe the Penguins have the guns to beat out the Rangers. My heart wants Vancouver to get revenge for 1994 and beat the Rangers, but I don’t think that will happen. Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
- Adrian Mercer: New York Rangers vs. Vancouver Canucks. I guess that New York wins. It feels as though John Tortorella is a coach in the mold of Mike Kenaan; magical for a short period of time before wearing out his welcome. Perhaps this is the year the magic happens for the Rangers. Prediction: New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup.
- Anatoliy Metter: After much debate, I have to go with the Penguins out of the East and the Blues out of the West. I see the Blues winning it all based on how far Hitchcock has taken the team since taking over. St. Louis comes with a balanced attack, but having Hitchcock behind the bench will probably provide the Blues with the mentoring necessary to take home Lord Stanley’s Cup. Prediction: St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup.
- Ryan Pike: From the West: St. Louis, From the East: New York Rangers. I believe that the Rangers will ultimately take this series as Brian Elliot can’t hold up over the grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs and New York is a bit deeper than St. Louis. With that said, a coaching match-up between John Tortorella and Ken Hitchcock should play out like a game of chess. Prediction: New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup.
- Fred Poulin: I have the Penguins over the Canucks (Pens will eliminate the Rangers and the Canucks will eliminate the Predators). All in all, the Penguins have too much depth when compared with other teams. Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
- Chris Roberts: Los Angeles Kings over the New York Rangers in 7 games. The Kings and Rangers have two of the best goalies in the NHL. The Rangers will ride Lundqvist to the finals much like they did all year and the Kings will get by the Canucks with some big contributions from Mike Richards and Jonathan Quick. Prediction: New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup in 7 games.
- Daniel Schopf: I’m definitely going with the Canucks. They’re a better group than last year with the addition of Booth, Kassian, and Grangani. In terms of the Eastern Conference, I see the Penguins making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but I do truly hope that the Boston Bruins make it.
- Stephen Stoneman: It will probably come down to Philadelphia vs. Chicago, and I pick Chicago to take it all. My rationale is that once Philadelphia gets past Pittsburgh, they’ll roll right through the rest of the Eastern Conference. Chicago has a fairly easy first round opponent but they need to get their confidence up. Once the Blackhawks gain that confidence they’ll be a force to be reckoned with as they have the best 6 players in the hockey. The only real question for these two teams is if their goaltending will hold up. Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.
After all was said and done and all the votes were polled, the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins were the favorites (4 votes each) to win the Stanley Cup. The Eastern Conference is looking strong and with the Rangers recently winning a tight 1-0 match-up against the Ottawa Senators, those that voted for the Blueshirts are looking good so far.
On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Penguins are not looking so mighty as the Philadelphia Flyers have given Sidney Crosby & Co. all that they can handle. Marc-Andre Fleury has not played well enough for the Penguins and the Flyers look like the more confident team on the ice. Crosby’s frustration at the way things have gone were evidenced in the Flyers’ 8-4 Game 3 victory as the forward was involved in a tussle and dropped the gloves with Claude Giroux. However, the series is still far from over. If there’s one thing that the Stanley Cup playoffs have taught us, it is that teams can be punished if they take their foot off of the pedal at any instance.
There is no clear cut way to determine the outcome of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but there are certain teams that have made their presence felt in the 2012 postseason. The Florida Panthers recorded a 4-2 victory over the New jersey Devils and proved that they could be a playoff pest. The Los Angeles Kings and Vezina Trophy candidate Jonathan Quick have given the Vancouver Canucks no quarter as they have stormed out to a 3-0 series lead over the 2011 Western Conference Champions. Teams such as the Sharks, Bruins, Devils, Rangers, Coyotes, and Red Wings have all been involved in tightly contested playoff games and it doesn’t seem as though the pace will let up in the following days.
All in all, the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs have not disappointed hockey fans. There might have been some testy moments and a good amount of fisticuffs exchanged, but there have definitely been many exciting games. Regardless of who wins the Stanley Cup, the sport of hockey is arguably at its finest moment when the playoffs roll. Clutch scoring, solid goaltending, hard hits, and nail-biting sequences are all a part of playoff hockey and there is no doubt that some teams and players are leaving it all out on the ice for a chance at postseason glory.
Pittsburgh Penguins – 4 Votes
New York Rangers – 4 Votes
Chicago Blackhawks – 2 Votes
St. Louis Blues – 1 Vote
Philadelphia Flyers – 1 Vote
Boston Bruins – 1 Vote
* Much thanks to Stephen Stoneman for making this publication happen, as well as all of those at THW that gave their thoughts on this year’s possible Stanley Cup representatives.