Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The NHL Conference Finals: Predictions

We are getting to the business end of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and the four teams left are Vancouver, San Jose, Boston and Tampa Bay. I guess the only surprising team there is Tampa Bay because they had to go through both Pittsburgh and Washington to get to the Eastern Conference final. However, they have shown, particularly through their special teams, that they are more than a match for any side.

Let's take a look at the match-ups. 

Eastern Conference:

Boston Bruins (3) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (5)

Right now the series stands at 1-1. Tampa exploded offensively in the first period of the first game, scoring three goals in around 85 seconds. That was too much for the Bruins to contend with and they could not get themselves back into the game, losing it 5-2. However, in the second game, it was the Bruins, led by rookie Tyler Seguin, who exploded offensively, putting 6 past the Lightning who pulled Roloson. The game ended 6-5 to Boston after a late rally from the Bolts.

It is hard to see how the rest of the series will pan out but I can't help but think that Boston's size and defensive ability will swing the series in their favour. Yes the Lightning have huge scoring potential but I am not sure if they can score as freely as they did in the first game for four games. I think the team that wins this series will have to thank their goalie in a massive way.

My Prediction: Bruins 4 – 2 Bolts

Western Conference:

Vancouver Canucks (1) vs San Jose Sharks (3)

The two perennial underachieving franchises in the NHL are clashing in the Western Conference final. Out of the two teams I think Vancouver are the more complete side but you can't count out a team that includes Joe Thornton, Danny Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and the red hot Ryan Clowe.

However, it is defensively where Vancouver are considerably better than their Sun Belt counterparts and I think that will win them the series. Ryan Kesler will also play a huge part, and you have to think that the Sedins will, at some point, heat up and play to their potential. This should be a close series but I think the Canucks will triumph in the end.

My Prediction: Canucks 4 – 2 Sharks

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