Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions - Round 2

Thank you, St. Louis Blues, for ruining my Stanley Cup predictions bracket for the second year in a row! Last year, I'd thought that it was finally going to be the Blues' year to get over the playoff hump and contend for further play. I'd even advised others on the Blues potential with the confidence of selecting them in my playoff brackets. They "screwed" me. This year, I was determined not to be fooled again by the Blues' chances. Thanks for the bittersweet job you did against the Hawks in the first round and eliminating them. So to the second round, we all go with plenty of new faces to talk about. Will there be a "shocking upset" in this round?

Western Conference

St. Louis v. Dallas
St. Louis is certainly playing inspired hockey as they've just taken down a perennial Cup contender in the Hawks. I was really glad to see that Jaden Schwartz has a point-per-game pace with 7 points in the playoffs. His late sister would've been proud of him, I'm sure. But the Stars are on a real resurgence behind their captain Benn. Look for him to add to his scoring totals. But in the end, I think the Blues goaltender Allen will hold up his part of the bargain and keep them in most all games this series.

Prediction: Blues in 5

Nashville v. San Jose
Here's another series with two more teams that can't seem to move on and underachieve in the playoffs. This might be the last ride for the Sharks as currently constructed. Their aging vets Thorton, Pavelski, and Marleau are plodding along with fan favorite Brent Burns and all his woolly hair are making their mark on the NHL leader boards so far. As for Nashville, their success rides on their goalie Pekka Rinne. But beyond Weber and Neal, I don't think they have enough depth to survive another series with a team that desperately wants to win.

Prediction: Sharks in 6

Eastern Conference

New York Islanders v. Tampa Bay
This is going to be a really interesting series with these two teams. Even though I was leaning towards an upset from the Panthers, the now veteran Islanders will have to continue their good luck with the Lightning team that's the defending Conference champs. I expect Ben Bishop to earn more respect with his recent Vezina trophy nomination. Also, the 'Bolts young star Drouin has to earn his playing time and prove to the owners that he belongs on the ice at the major league level. Tavares needs this win big if he is going to earn elite superstar status that was once expected of him.

Prediction: Lightning in 6

Washington v. Pittsburgh
The mainstream media have already picked sides and promote their agendas to get further attention to this playoff series. It's at least prevalent to me in both US and Canadian broadcasts. But there's also an underpinning of regret that this series isn't for the Stanley Cup because of the unpopular changes proposed to the playoff seeding years ago suggesting that the Conference finals could be wiped out. They just had to get around the fact that Ovechkin and Crosby compete in the same division/conference. I believe with time to heal on the first round and time to re-align the linemates for this series, the Penguins can run all over the Capitals. Look for Fleury to return in net at some point during the series.

Prediction: Penguins in 7
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