Puck Daddy’s 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs staff prognostications

In which your friends at Puck Daddy attempt to pick the winners of the opening round and then the Stanley Cup.  The full schedule for the first round is here.

Greg Wyshynski, Editor

Penguins in 5
Senators in 6
Rangers in 7
Bruins in 6

Blackhawks in 5
Ducks in 7
San Jose in 6
St. Louis in 6

Stanley Cup Final: Blackhawks over Rangers in 5 games.

Conn Smythe: Jonathan Toews

It’s not that I don’t believe in the Penguins. I do. They’re as loaded with talent as any team in the NHL. But the idea of both favorites making it out of their respective conferences … I just can’t wrap my brain around that. So if the Blackhawks emerge from the West, and I think they will, someone needs to emerge from the East other than the Pens. And I think that team is the Rangers.

Why? Henrik Lundqvist in a shortened season could mean a more effective Lundqvist in the later rounds. I think Rick Nash becomes the playoff performer he was acquired to be, and that Brad Richards somehow finds that level of competition that he’s lacked all season. Add in (hopefully) Marc Staal and Derek Dorsett, and the Rangers could be that lower seed that catches fire.

But they can’t beat the Blackhawks. I’m not sure anyone can.

The Sens and Sharks pull first-round upsets; San Jose is a team I might have picked to come out of the West were they not the San Jose Sharks.

Sean Leahy, Editor

Penguins in 5
Senators in 7
Capitals in 6
Bruins in 6

Blackhawks in 5
Red Wings in 7
Sharks in 7
Kings in 6

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins over Blackhawks in 7 games

Conn Smythe: James Neal

We're going with the chalk. Having predicted Blues-Rangers before the season, I don't feel very confident in either of those two three months later. The Penguins and Blackhawks have shown to be the class of the NHL this season; and it's no surprise that in a year where East didn't meet West, these two teams are on a collision course for one another in a great Stanley Cup Final.

The Penguins will learn from a year ago when the Flyers embarrassed them in the first round. General manager Ray Shero stocked up on depth at the trade deadline adding Brenden Morrow, Jarome Iginla and Doug Murray, but his most underrated pickup was last summer in signing Tomas Vokoun. Should Marc-Andre Fleury stutter in the playoffs, head coach Dan Bylsma can quickly turn to Vokoun and keep the confidence in tact.

From the very start, the Blackhawks proved they were in an elite class. From the 24-game point streak to begin the season to the incredible depth they showed up and down the lineup. It was clear that road to the Cup Final in the Western Conference would run through Chicago. Plus, it's always nice when your "backup" netminder, Ray Emery, has more individual wins than three NHL teams.

Harrison Mooney, Editor

Penguins in 5
Senators in 7
Capitals in 6
Bruins in 6

Blackhawks in 4
Red Wings in 7
Canucks in 7
Kings in 6

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins vs. Blackhawks

Blackhawks win, Jonathan Toews the Conn Smythe winner.

While the regular-season had its fair share of surprises, I don't see many more in store for this year's playoffs. The Penguins and the Blackhawks are the classes of their respective conferences and I think they'll show it in the postseason.

As upsets go, the ones I'm expecting don't even seem like upsets to me. The Ducks are fading, and I think in an 82-game season, if they saw the Red Wings in the postseason, they'd be the ones starting on the road. I'm not convinced by Anaheim. I think their Cup run is short.

The same can be said for the Ottawa/Montreal series. Give the season another 34 games and I think these teams trade places. The Senators should come out on top there.

My final four: Washington, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles. That's going to be a lot of fun.

But in the end, the Blackhawks are this year's winner. They've been the class of the league all along and I don't see anyone upending them.

Dmitry Chesnokov, Senior Writer

Pittsburgh in 4
Montreal in 7
Washington in 6
Boston in 6

Chicago in 5
Anaheim in 6
Vancouver in 7
Los Angeles in 7

The East and the West are as predictable as they are unpredictable, if that makes sense. I think we will see a lot of close games and a lot of deadlines missed by beat writers. Pittsburgh and Chicago will lead the way in the first round, but it sure will get complicated.

Stanley Cup Final: Washington vs. Los Angeles

Stanley Cup Champion: Washington
Conn Smythe: Alex Ovechkin

Sticking to my picks from the beginning of the season. Washington is still a mystery to me. The mid-season turnaround was revealing. The Penguins are still the team to beat in the East, but the Capitals may be the team to do it. As for Los Angeles, they know what they need to do to repeat. They made the playoffs last season thanks to Quick, but played the chess game of the playoffs really well and can do it again.

Ovechkin should win the Conn Smythe if the Capitals do win the Cup. The hockey rebirth and perseverance he has shown this season is the reason the Capitals turned their season around, and, should they win, will be the reason the Southeast Division dies in style.

Ryan Lambert, Columnist

Pittsburgh in 5
Montreal in 7
New York in 6
Boston in 6

Chicago in 4
Anaheim in 7
Vancouver in 7
Los Angeles in 5

Stanley Cup Final: Blackhawks/Penguins

Penguins win; Evgeni Malkin is the MVP.

This has been a very strange year for hockey and frankly it's tough to nail down whether teams' late runs or slumps are the true indicators of their abilities, given that we didn't get to see them for quite so long in the regular season.

That's why, for the most part, I think it's fair to pick very few upsets throughout the playoffs.

Yeah, anything can obviously happen in a seven-game set, but it's tough to imagine teams as dominant as the Penguins and Blackhawks were over the course of the year, from front to back, getting knocked off by teams that either started hot and then faded down the stretch (the Canadiens and Wild) or started poorly and played well later on (the Rangers and Capitals).

Given the unclear nature of Sidney Crosby's status as of this writing, the odds-on Conn Smythe pick has to be shelved at least for a little while, in favor of Evgeni Malkin, who's not so bad a player in his own right and certainly has the ability to take over a game or entire series when he's healthy.

Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Fantasy Hockey Guru

Pittsburgh in 4
Ottawa in 6
Washington in 6
Boston in 7

The Penguins begin their 12-0 run before running into fellow juggernauts the Chicago Blackhawks. Pittsburgh is a deep, well-coached team that dominate every facet of the game. And then Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Paul Martin returned to the lineup. For the sake of fairness to the other teams, Sidney Crosby shouldn't be allowed to play.

Chicago in 4
Anaheim in 5
Vancouver in 7
Los Angeles in 6

The Penguins Blackhawks begin their 12-0 run before running into fellow juggernauts the Chicago Blackhawks Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh Chicago is a deep, well-coached team that dominate every facet of the game. And then Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Paul Martin Patrick Sharp returned to the lineup.

Stanley Cup Final: Chicago vs. Pittsburgh

Penguins win. Crosby gets the Conn Smythe

I can't wait to see the stifling defense of the Blackhawks try to contain the deep, relentless offense of the Penguins. This is a copycat league, so the Cup winner could influence the style of play that other coaches emulate in the coming season. Naturally, as a fantasy hockey guy, my fingers are crossed for the offense to win this one.

As a bonus, I'd like to submit a dark horse team for your consideration - the Washington Capitals. How much of their season reminds you of the Kings from last year? Written off, playing horrible, and then sometime around midseason the switch is flipped. Since that point, the Caps have looked dominant at times.

The Ladies From What’s Up, Ya Sieve? (Your Official Playoff Beard Pundits)

Pittsburgh (1) vs. NY Islanders (8)
Winner: Pittsburgh

While we’re delighted to see our favorite middle school science teacher, John Tavares in the postseason, the re-assembled Penguins will take this series in five games. PS: Crosby, please keep your head down.

Montreal (2) vs. Ottawa (7)
Winner: Montreal

The return of Erik Karlsson certainly makes the Sens more pesky, but one defensemen does not a team make. Unless you are Nick Lidstrom.

Washington (3) vs. NY Rangers (6)
Winner: Pants says Washington, Chuck says New York.

This series will get ugly - both on the ice and on our blog.

Boston (4) vs. Toronto (5)
Winner: Boston

Original Six Match-Up! The Bruins need to TARDIS back to 2011 and recapture some of their Stanley Cup mojo. They play best when they are physical and aggressive.

Chicago (1) vs. Minnesota (8)
Winner: Chicago

If there’s anything the Wild can do to win this series... the Blackhawks can do it better.

Anaheim (2) vs. Detroit (7)
Winner: Anaheim

The Ducks didn’t get press like Hawks or Pens, but this year they were the team they should have been last year. Detroit’s impressive 22nd straight playoff berth will be a short one.

Vancouver (3) vs. San Jose (6)
Winner: San Jose

Solid goaltending, good defense and a corps of scoring forwards will lift the Sharks. The Canucks goaltending drama continues... can’t it just be over yet?

St. Louis (4) vs. Los Angeles (5)
Winner: Los Angeles

The defending Champs will not go down without a fight. Both teams play a very similar grinding game and this one will come down to who is the better goaltender - our money is on Quick.

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins/Blackhawks a.k.a. Perfection vs. Perfection.
Stanley Cup Champion: Penguins

Conn Smythe: Sidney Crosby. He missed out on the Art Ross Trophy (and probably the Hart) due to the broken jaw, but Sidney Crosby was born to win. We say the Conn Smythe will be icing on the Penguins’ captain’s second Cup-cake.

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