NHL 2014-15 Stanley Cup picks: Puck Daddy selects the champs

Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown,center, holds up the Stanley Cup trophy while riding in a parade, Monday, June 16, 2014, in Los Angeles. The parade and rally were held to celebrate the Kings' second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons. The Kings defeated the New York Rangers for the title. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

We’ve profiled the Eastern Conference.

We’ve profiled the Western Conference.

Now, it’s time for the grand finale of our regular-season picks: Giving you the conference champions and Stanley Cup champion for the 2014-15 season.

The panel: Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy editor; Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy editor; Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy columnist; Jen Neale, Puck Daddy writer; Josh Cooper, Puck Daddy editor; Jen LC, Puck Daddy analytics columnist; Sam McCaig, Yahoo Sports hockey editor; Nick Cotsonika, Yahoo Sports columnist; Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Puck Daddy fantasy hockey writer.

And here … we … go. 

GREG WYSHYNSKI, PUCK DADDY EDITOR 

EAST WINNER: Boston Bruins 

WEST WINNER: St. Louis Blues

Yes, I’ve moved from one perennial underachieving team in the playoffs to another. But I love their defense, love the depth at forward and really hope Jake Allen finds a way to Cam Ward them to a conference title.

Boston’s just loaded, and as long as they can avoid the Canadiens, they emerge from the East.

CUP WINNER: St. Louis Blues

The Blues win their first conference title and their first Stanley Cup in team history in an absolutely brutal series against the Bruins in which the boards will still be vibrating from the hitting when the Cup is lifted.

SEAN LEAHY, PUCK DADDY EDITOR 

EAST WINNER: Montreal

WEST WINNER: LA

CUP WINNER: LA

Conn Smythe: Jeff Carter

I don't know why, but I seem to enjoy picking back-to-back winners every time we write up this post. The Kings have turned the NHL's regular season as a training ground to prepare them for the postseason. It doesn't matter what seed they are in the West, they manage to survive and advance. LA stared elimination in the face eight times last season. They're the smartest, best-built team in the league. Why not have them be the team to finally win back-to-back Cups for the first time since 1997-98?

RYAN LAMBERT, PUCK DADDY COLUMNIST

EAST WINNER: Lightning

WEST WINNER: Sharks

CUP WINNER: Lightning

JEN NEALE, PUCK DADDY WRITER

EAST WINNER: Boston Bruins

The Bruins are the only team in the East that can hold a candle to the teams out West. I could see Tampa giving them a run for their money, if Ben Bishop can stay healthy, but I don't know if the Bolts can muster the same physicality Boston doles out. With Rask and the B's defense on their respective games, the Lightning's potent offense is rendered inert.

WEST WINNER: Los Angeles Kings

I foresee another Chicago and Los Angeles WCF.

Unless the Blackhawks can find a way to beat LA this time around, the reigning champs are headed back to the finals. Where the Kings have the edge in the battle is goaltending. A healthy Jonathan Quick is better than Corey Crawford even on Crawford's most super human of days.

CUP WINNER: Los Angeles Kings

Rarely does one see a team come back with nearly no turnover from the year prior, championship caliber or not. This is where the Kings have everyone beat. Sure they all could be worn out from a deep post-season run from the season prior, but I don't see that as a problem for the relatively young team.

JOSH COOPER, PUCK DADDY EDITOR

EAST WINNER: Washington Capitals

Barry Trotz will get Alex Ovechkin to play his most effective and efficient hockey of his career. Mitch Korn will use his Jedi-like training on Braden Holtby, and the Caps will roar through the Eastern Conference playoffs.

WEST WINNER: Los Angeles Kings

It just seems humanly impossible to pick against the winner of two of the last three Stanley Cups. The oldest member of their core is Justin Williams, and he’s still only 33 and coming off a Conn Smythe run.

CUP WINNER: Washington Capitals

Maybe this puts way too much faith in Trotz, but give him the right pieces, and I strongly feel that he can make them a winner. Think of him like Joel Quenneville. He couldn’t get over the hump with St. Louis or Colorado. Then he went to Chicago, and bam, the Blackhawks become winners. Trotz will have the same effect on the Caps.

JEN LC, PUCK DADDY ANALYTICS COLUMNIST 

EAST WINNER: Tampa Bay Lightning

With an aggressive offense, a healthy Steven Stamkos, an up and coming blue line and fairly good goaltending, the Lightning have what it takes to win the Eastern Conference this season.

WEST WINNER: Los Angeles Kings

The machine that is the Kings will probably have to get through the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, but if they continue to run four lines as effectively as they did last season and suppress shots against the most prolific offenses in the league, they will likely end up the champs in the Western Conference again.

CUP WINNER: Los Angeles Kings. Amazing puck possession, breakaway scorers, a defensive system that thwarts the most potent of offensive attacks and competent goaltending put the Kings in the best position to be back to back Stanley Cup Champions.

SAM MCCAIG, YAHOO SPORTS HOCKEY EDITOR

EAST WINNER: Pittsburgh Penguins

WEST WINNER: St. Louis Blues

For all the parity that is the NHL, the Penguins have a chance to separate themselves from the pack in the East if they can stay healthy – and by “they” of course, I’m looking at you, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- and new players such as Patric Hornqvist and Christian Ehrhoff can offset the losses of James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik.

In the West, the skilled Blues are also one of the NHL’s deepest teams, and coach Ken Hitchcock will push his charges to keep pushing the limit all season.

CUP WINNER: St. Louis

Dare I say, St. Louis? I dare. The Blues have followed the NHL’s time-honored tradition of losing gut-wrenching playoff series to equally stacked teams with recent Stanley Cups on their resume (ie. they kept running into Chicago and L.A.) But I think this is the season the Blues finally break through and win their first Cup in franchise history. (Backup pick: Every other team in the West. Or Pittsburgh.) 

NICK COTSONIKA, YAHOO SPORTS NHL COLUMNIST 

EAST WINNER: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins are due. They haven’t made the final since 2009, which is why GM Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma got fired. But they still have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and company, and they’re deeper than they were the past two years, when they went to the conference final and came within a game of the conference final. If they’re healthy and hang onto the puck more than they did in the past, they should get another turn.

WEST WINNER: Chicago Blackhawks

Five teams have a legitimate shot, maybe more. But L.A. and Chicago have risen to the top the past two years, becoming great rivals with mutual respect, and for now there is no reason to think we couldn’t have another rematch. Last season, L.A. won Game 7 in overtime on a deflection. This season, the ’Hawks win by a similarly slim margin.

CUP WINNER: Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago. Sorry, Rangers. No disrespect. But had the puck gone in for the Blackhawks instead of the Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference final, Chicago would be celebrating its third Cup in five years. They’ll have to settle for three in six.

DARRYL “DOBBER” DOBBS, PUCK DADDY FANTASY COLUMNIST

EAST WINNER: Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh will take out Boston in the Eastern Conference Final. The added depth and healthy superstars will be too much this time, but Tuukka Rask alone will push the series to seven games, pulling Boston's fat out of the frier on a number of occasions.

WEST WINNER: St. Louis Blues

The Blues will beat out the Ducks in the West, but the journey to that point will be an epic one - Chicago, Minnesota and Los Angeles will not go down easily and frankly I can't wait to see the Western Conference battles in April. But the Blues can roll out four lines that can score better than any other team in the league and that will just be too much for Anaheim.

CUP WINNER: Pittsburgh Penguins

Only the power of Crosby and Malkin can stop St. Louis, so the caveat to my Cup pick is obviously the health of those two. But if Kris Letang gets hurt again there will be a new playoff hero in Pittsburgh - Derrick Pouliot. Mark it! Pouliot would fill Letang's shoes in a pinch and give the team the puck movement from the back end that they otherwise would lose from a Letang injury.