Welcome to the Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup playoff predictions. Here is the history of our picks.
The first-round predictions went as follows:
Michael – 6-2
Joey – 6-2
Ryan – 5-3
Jeff – 5-3
The second-round predictions went as follows:
Michael - 3-1
Corey - 3-1
Jeff - 3-1
Ryan - 2-2
Joey - 2-2
After two rounds, the standings are as follows:
Joey – 8-4
Jeff – 8-4
Corey – 7-5
Ryan – 7-5
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Here are our Conference Finals predictions.
|Michael||Lightning in 6||Golden Knights in 5|
|Corey||Lightning in 6||Golden Knights in 6|
|Ryan||Islanders in 7||Golden Knights in 6|
|Joey||Lightning in 7||Golden Knights in 6|
|Jeff||Lightning in 6||Golden Knights in 7|
Here are our reasons why we picked each series.
Golden Knights in 5
The Golden Knights were the superior team against Vancouver and if it were not for goaltender Thatcher Demko, the series would have ended in five games. Dallas had an amazing performance from Miro Heiskanen and are scoring at an amazing pace, especially considering that they were tied for the third-lowest in goals for during the regular season. I don’t see Dallas winning more than one game as Vegas heads to their second Cup Final appearance in three seasons.
Tampa Bay in 6
The Lightning have been great in the playoffs and look to be the best team in the NHL despite missing Steven Stamkos from their lineup. They disposed of the Bruins easily in five and have been resting, awaiting the winner of the Islanders-Flyers series. The Islanders won on Saturday night and while they have been great defensively, shutting down the Flyers in the second round, the Lightning have too much firepower. I can see the well-coached Islanders winning a couple of games in the series but the talent gap is too great for them to overcome.
Golden Knights in 6
Vegas had more trouble with Vancouver than I thought they would thanks to some tremendous goaltending from Thatcher Demko. Dallas has struggled to keep the puck out of their net, while improving their offense in the postseason. That strategy barely worked against an injury-ravaged Colorado team that was using a third-string goaltender at the end of the series. That could win the Stars one game and Anton Khudobin has the ability to steal another, but it wouldn't surprise me if Vegas ended this series in fewer than six games.
Lightning in 6
If this was a first-round series, I would've had Tampa Bay winning by a sweep. It's a big mismatch on paper even if Steven Stamkos is unavailable. However, the Islanders have been much better since the restart than they were during the regular season. New York could also get off to a good start in this series if the Lightning are rusty out of the gate. Still, I don't like their chances. Tampa Bay is a big step up in competition from the teams the Islanders have faced so far in the postseason. It wouldn't be shocking if this series is won by Tampa Bay in fewer than six games if they use the rest they earned wisely and shift their power play into high gear.
Golden Knights in 6
The Stars did surprise me in the last round, but the Avalanche also had some major injuries. Vegas is a well-rounded team that could realistically win its first championship in the third season of the franchise's existence. That said, the Stars do have some interesting x-factors who can sway the series. Denis Gurianov is one such player. He's having a great playoff run and was a consistent presence in the second round. It will be interesting to see if he's similarly a thorn in the Golden Knights' side.
Islanders in 7
Even without Steven Stamkos, the Lightning have a pretty scary offense, but I think the Islanders are capable of shutting it down. The Islanders already demonstrated an ability to handle star players when they bested the Capitals in five games. The Flyers proved to be tougher to finish off, but at the end of the day, the Islanders' defense came through, allowing a mere 16 shots in Game 7. The Lightning's quick work of the Bruins was impressive, but I see the Islanders as a team better built to handle them.
Golden Knights in 6
I love what the Stars have done so far, but it just looks like some of their key players a little banged up. The Golden Knights had trouble beating Thatcher Demko in the last series and I don't think Anton Khudobin or Ben Bishop will pose the same problems for them. I expect we'll see the Golden Knights reach the final for the second time in their three years of existence which is really impressive.
Lightning in 7
The Lightning made some interesting acquisitions during the season and they seem to be paying off. Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow weren't cheap, but they've added some sandpaper to the Bolts' lineup. Also, let's not forget that the Lightning were a pretty talented squad to begin with. I still expect this feisty Isles squad to keep the series close. I think they'll push the Lightning to the limit, but they'll eventually fall just short of the Stanley Cup Final.
Golden Knights in 7
How much longer can the Stars survive without a healthy Ben Bishop? I think their run ends here against a Golden Knights squad that has the depth throughout their team. The wild factor here is Miro Heiskanen, who is currently the Conn Smythe Trophy favorite. If Heiskanen can continue to dominate and dictate play, the Stars will continue to push teams to six and seven games even without Bishop in goal.
Lightning in 6
Tampa Bay got over their first-round hump over the Blue Jackets and looked very good against the Boston Bruins. Their additions of Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman raised some eyebrows for the price they paid but those two have been big contributors so far. I was tempted to pick an Islanders upset but it's hard to go against a Lightning squad that is stacked and well rested heading into the Eastern Conference Final.