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Stanley Cup 2013-14: Puck Daddy predicts conference champs and the big winner

Greg Wyshynski
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Greg Wyshynski, Editor

East Winner: Boston Bruins

Defense wins championships, and there’s still no disputing how good the Bruins are on the blueline, in goal and up front with players like Patrice Bergeron. The additions of Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla make them better, on paper, than they were last season.

West Winner: San Jose Sharks

Once more, with feeling: The Sharks will win the West in the swan song for this collection of players – the walk year for Thornton, Marleau and Boyle. They have the goaltending and the scoring; one hopes that add one more defenseman at the deadline.

Stanley Cup Winner: San Jose Sharks

Yes, the Sharks. The choking, underwhelming, tantalizing but always disappointing Sharks. Thornton gets a ring. Marleau gets a ring. Burns loses the ring in his beard. Couture pawns it to buy a Camaro. But the Sharks win. Finally.

Sean Leahy, Editor

East Winner: Ottawa Senators

Adding Bobby Ryan to a lineup that will have a healthy Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson will be trouble for the Eastern Conference. They're offensively potent and defensively sound. That's a good mix to get through three rounds in the East.

West Winner: Chicago Blackhawks

It's going to be another dominant season for the Blackhawks. All the big guns are back. The penalty kill will be strong again and if the power play can improve, they might lock up the Presidents' Trophy earlier than last season.

HAWKs

Stanley Cup Winner: Blackhawks in 6

Toews. Kane. Hossa. Keith. Seabrook. Yeah, safe bet here. Chicago got production from guys down the lineup in their run to a Cup last season. There aren't many new faces for 2013-14, but experienced gained by some (Brandon Saad) combined with experience already there (see names above) will equal another party through the streets of Chicago in late June.

Harrison Mooney, Editor

East Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

Atlantic - Boston is the class of this division, and while the Senators and Red Wings are going to challenge them, neither team is quite deep enough to keep up with the Bruins.

Metropolitan - The Penguins may again run into trouble during the postseason, when they hit a team that's able to lock things down over a seven-game series and turn the whole thing into a battle of unforced errors, but there's more room in the regular season, and these guys thrive on room. They're going to run away with this division.

West Winner: San Jose Sharks

Central - The Cup champs are still good. St. Louis is the only team even close, but they're not close enough. They won't get the offence to keep up with Chicago.

Pacific - A lot of people are going to pick the Kings to win the Pacific, but I'm not sold on them getting the sustained offence over 82 games to do that. If they do win the division, expect Jonathan Quick to get a Vezina along with it, because he's going to have to be near-flawless. I think the Sharks will have less trouble scoring, and they should be able to eke out first place there.

Stanley Cup Winner: San Jose Sharks

I'm sure that, by saying this, I've damned them once again, but I think this is the year the San Jose Sharks finally get over the hump. They looked like a completely different team late last year, and with Logan Couture coming into his own as an NHL superstar, Joes Thornton and Pavelski performing at a high-level, Brent Burns a little more adjusted to his new role at forward, and Antti Niemi developing into an elite-level goalie, the Sharks look well-equipped to break through. Plus, I mean, come on, it has to happen at some point, right? Right?

Ryan Lambert, Columnist

East Winner: Boston Bruins

West Winner: Chicago Blackhawks

It's hard to pick a repeat Cup Final and feel good about the chances of that coming true, but the league, as a consequence of the cap coming down, really has led to a lot of teams being incredibly flawed. The Bruins and Blackhawks just seem the least-flawed of the field. It would not be at all shocking to see neither appear, but the problems with either team seem less glaring than those of their competitors.

Stanley Cup Winner: Boston Bruins

I don't know, Boston this time? The Bruins looked all set to win the Cup before Claude Julien started making bad coaching decisions, and it must be said they were more than a little unlucky last time out. Neither result in a repeat Cup Final, though, would surprise me.

Nick Cotsonika, Y Sports Columnist

East Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

One of these years they are going to have to come out of the East again. Yes, goaltending is a huge question mark. So is their bottom six. But their blue line should be better, and they have too much talent. How they scored only two goals in four games in the conference final last season still boggles the mind. Can't happen again. Can't.

West Winner: San Jose Sharks

Why not the Hawks? Mostly because it is so difficult to repeat, and things can't possibly go as smoothly as they did last season. The best team doesn't always win. Ask the Pens.

Stanley Cup Winner: San Jose Sharks

Just when it seemed no one would pick them again … somebody's picking them again. The new theory: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle still have something left — and will be motivated to prove it — at the same time Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and company are taking over. That combination makes everything come together at the right time.

Sam McCaig, Y Sports NHL Editor

East Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

There’s too much talent, especially if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can stay healthy for a full year (and we’re optimistically predicting that they do). And despite his playoff struggles, we’re betting that hot-and-cold Marc-Andre Fleury stays warm...at least during the regular season.

West Winner: Chicago Blackhawks

HAWKs

Stanley Cup Winner: Chicago Blackhawks

To repeat, the ‘Hawks are a top-to-bottom star-studded team, with lynchpins up front and on the blue line, and Corey Crawford has proven his championship worthiness. The NHL hasn’t had a team go back-to-back since Detroit in 1997 and ’98; Chicago has all the pieces – with most of their stars smack-dab in the prime of their careers – to win a second Cup in a row and their third in five years.

Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Fantasy Hockey

East Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

I could/should copy and paste what I’ve said here the last couple of years. But there is no reason not to believe that a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will win the Conference. As long as team chemistry isn’t ruined at the trade deadline by trading for every name player who is on the trading block, they should be fine.

West Winner: Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have the talent, depth and experience to get there again. The Kings, Wild and Blues make strong cases, but I don’t think the Wild as a young team are ready yet and the Blues strike me as a team that Coach Ken Hitchcock is losing. That leaves the Kings as Chicago’s biggest challenge.

PENS

Stanley Cup Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins. With both Crosby and Malkin, the era can’t and won’t end with just one Cup. One or two more are on the way.

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