27 April 2016

2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions: Conference Semifinals

We shall roll on the road towards the Stanley Cup as (save for one series) we have concluded the opening round of the playoffs and are headed to the Conference Semifinals. Who will survive and advance to their respective Conference Finals and whose dreams of hoisting the Cup will fall by the wayside? Here are my predictions.

TV Schedule

 NHL Eastern Conference (2006 - Pres)
A2 Lightning vs. WC Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning (2012 - Pres)New York Islanders (1998 - 2010)
Perhaps nobody had a better series than the one John Tavares had against the Panthers, as he put up five goals and four assists in helping to carry New York to the conference semifinals. Having a really hot goalie in Thomas Greiss helped the cause but can the inexperienced netminder hold up against a Tampa Bay offense that even without the great Steven Stamkos played well against Detroit? Usually in these series, the superior club comes out on top and that is what will happen here.
Lightning in 6

M1 Capitals vs. M2 Penguins
Washington Capitals (2008 - Pres)Pittsburgh Penguins (2003 - 2007)
It got a little hairy for the Caps against a frisky Philadelphia club as the Flyers won two in a row after losing the first three to open the series. Considering that Washington clearly was the superior team, that was odd to see and perhaps a little disheartening. Meanwhile, you could make a strong argument that the Penguins were like the best team of the 1st round and with how good they looked, I could see them putting in a strong run the rest of the way. I like them here.
Penguins in 5
 NHL Western Conference (2006 - Pres)
C1 Stars vs. C2 Blues
Dallas Stars (2014 - Pres)St. Louis Blues (1985 - 1987)
The Blues, in typical fashion, came pretty close to blowing their opening round series against the hated Blackhawks but early goals from Jori Lehtera and Colton Parayko in Game 7 gave them enough of a lead that they were able to pad en route to get over that hump. The Blues may not have the offensive firepower that Ken Hitchcock's old team has but they are better on the back end and in net with Brian Elliott and I think they will be the ones to advance.
Blues in 7

P3 Sharks vs. WC Predators
San Jose Sharks (2009 - Pres)Nashville Predators (2012 - Pres)
Now that the Preds have dispatched the Ducks after blowing a 2-0 lead, they'll be in for a tough challenge against a San Jose club that looked very strong in taking out the Kings in five. Nashville has got the elite defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Roman Josi and they are good enough offensively to take advantage of a Sharks defense that is not particularly deep. I'm feeling the upset.
Predators in 6

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