Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview

Jacob+Lintner%27s+%22Jake%27s+Take%22+picture+taken+as+a+freshman.+Yes%2C+I%27m+putting+pictures+of+myself+in+my+final+article.+%28Michael+Hamilton%29

Jacob Lintner's "Jake's Take" picture taken as a freshman. Yes, I'm putting pictures of myself in my final article. (Michael Hamilton)

The season ended on the 13, but there are still heated battles for playoff position happening in the NHL. The St. Louis Blues lost their shot at first in the Western

St. Louis Blues player Alex Pietrangelo collides with San Jose Sharks player James Sheppard (photo courtesy of http://blues.nhl.com/ )
St. Louis Blues player Alex Pietrangelo collides with San Jose Sharks player James Sheppard (photo courtesy of blues.nhl.com)

Conference, while the Boston Bruins won the Eastern Conference with commanding lead over the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins. The playoffs will come down to the final buzzer, and only one team will come out on top.

    Eastern Conference

The Boston Bruins are looking strong in the East, and it seems that no one can touch them. The Penguins put up a fight, but it’s hard to bet against a team that has been to the playoffs each of the last six years. The Bruins have been a consistently great franchise for as long as the they’ve been in the league. Their lowest finish in the conference was sixth place, and that was almost twenty years ago in 1996. They’re definitely the team to beat in the conference.

The only team that even has a chance to catch the Bruins are the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have had plenty of good seasons, but their last Stanley Cup Finals appearance was back in 2008. The Penguins have a tough matchup right off the bat with the feisty Columbus Blue Jackets, but it is still a series that they should win. Time will tell, though, if they can stand up against the tougher teams in the playoffs.

The East will be a close conference, but the top few teams will have very easy road to victory. The East is very weak once it comes down to the lower seeds, and the best teams are so far ahead that it makes for very few upsets. The championship game will be, in my opinion, the Penguins against the Bruins. That series will be gritty and hard-fought until the final game, with the Penguins winning by a small margin. It won’t be easy, but the Penguins will come out of the East to represent them in the Stanley Cup Finals.

   Western Conference

The top team in the West is the Anaheim Ducks. They’re a relatively young team, but they’ve had plenty of playoff success in their 19-year existence. This is the ninth year that they’ve made the playoffs, and the second year in a row that they’ve topped the Western Conference. The first round will pit them against the Dallas Stars, a team that’s struggled on the road. This doesn’t mean that they’re a guaranteed win, but it is definitely going to be an easy road to the championship for this team.

There’s not much that can be said about the St. Louis Blues and their late season collapse that is positive. They only won three of their last ten games, while losing their last six. They were looking good until they hit a rough spot. Because of the string of losses, the Blues finished second in their division, and third in the conference. Throughout the losing streak, fans have kept their spirits up with the knowledge that the Blues have been giving their starters plenty of rest going into the playoffs. They should bounce back from this and make a strong run for The Cup.

Even though the Blues have spent plenty of time resting their best players, this will not be the year that the Blues capture the coveted and elusive Stanley Cup. Sorry, Blues fans, but they just don’t have the scoring power to compete with the the best teams in the conference. They’ll make it to the Conference Finals, but that’s where they’ll fall to the Anaheim Ducks. This is simply the Ducks’ year.They’ve dominated the conference and fended off even the hottest teams. All is not lost for the Blues, though. If the Blues can accentuate their outstanding goaltending and force the Ducks to play extra hockey, their depth can outlast the Ducks and give the Blues a great opportunity to steal some games.

In the end, though, I believe that the Anaheim Ducks will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals. It will be a very high-scoring series between two of the highest scoring offenses in the league. The winning team will be the team that can outscore their opponent on the road. I usually preach that teams have to be well-balanced and dominate on both ends of the ice, but that will not be the case. I believe that the Ducks will be the victorious team by crushing the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Home games are always so important in big games, and the Ducks have the ability to win both at home and on the road. That will the be their ace in the hole in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.