Ringer's RecordPlayoffs: 7-1
The Conference Semifinals get started tomorrow when an old school rivalry is renewed between Boston and Montreal. My three year string of picking the Cup winner before the season begins ended when the Blues were bounced by the defending champion Blackhawks. That was my lone series loss so far, as I correctly picked the winner of the other seven Conference Quarterfinals matchups. Most of the league's best teams are still alive, meaning we should be in for some very good hockey in the next couple weeks. Here is how I expect the rest of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs to play out.
Boston (-255) vs. Montreal (+215)
The Montreal Canadiens handled Tampa Bay decisively in the opening round. Carey Price was terrific in net, leading to a series sweep. Now they run up against the most well-rounded team in all of hockey. Boston is capable of shutting down anyone, so Montreal will need to find some offense. These bitter rivals are both playing great hockey and it should be a battle. Boston has had the better season, and they will extend it by knocking off the Canadiens.
Prediction - Boston over Montreal 4-2
Pittsburgh (-145) vs. NY Rangers (+125)
The Penguins and Rangers both had to fight extremely hard to survive the East Quarterfinals. Their Pens showed their prowess in Games 5 and 6 of their opening round matchup to overcome the gritty Blue Jackets. The Rangers went the distance to eventually outlast the Flyers. Both teams were thought to have Stanley Cup potential when the season began. In the end, I don't think that the Rangers possess enough firepower to get past the Pens.
Prediction - Pittsburgh over NY Rangers 4-1
Anaheim (-110) vs. Los Angeles (-110)
The playoffs are all about getting hot at the right time. It did not appear that the Kings were playing very good hockey at all, as they fell behind the Sharks 3-0 in their Conference Quarterfinals series. Then something clicked, and the Kings rattled off four straight wins to complete a historic comeback. LA definitely has their mojo back. It is the Ducks that were the best team in SoCal and all of the Western Conference this season though. The Kings could be gassed after such a comeback. They could be in trouble if this series goes a long way.
Prediction - Anaheim over Los Angeles 4-3
Chicago (-340) vs. Minnesota (+270)
As the regular season ended, not many people were talking about the Blackhawks being able to repeat. That has suddenly become a real possibility. Chicago rebounded from the injury bug, and dint miss a beat in rattling off four consecutive wins over my pick for the Cup, St. Louis. They are heavy favorites to get past Minnesota and back to the Conference Finals. Minnesota's win over Colorado was viewed as an upset, but not by me. I had the Wild advancing and believed they had the better roster. I don't believe their roster can compete with Chicago's over the course of a 7-game series.
Prediction - Chicago over Minnesota 4-1