In this quick roundtable, we asked the writers to give their Stanley Cup predictions, guess at which team will be this season’s dark horse, and also who will be the Fernando Pisani of the 2017 playoffs.
1) Who wins and in how many games?
Chicago in seven. Their top-end skill on forward and defence is too good.
St. Louis in an upset in seven. They are playing better and Tarasenko will be the difference.
Edmonton is on a roll and they knock out the Sharks in six games.
Calgary gives the Ducks more than people expect, but lose in game seven.
The Habs own Lundqvist. It will be a low scoring series and Habs win in six.
Ottawa had a -4 in GF/GA differential. Boston in six.
The Capitals are too strong. They sweep the upstart Leafs.
The best series of the first round. I will take Columbus in a bit of an upset in six games. No Letang really hurts the Penguins.
- Chicago beats Nashville, six games. Even if you like the Preds (which I do) and worry about the Blackhawks depth (ditto), Corey Crawford vs. Pekka Rinne is a mismatch.
- Minnesota beats St. Louis, say five games. I love Minnesota’s three-line attack; St. Louis hasn’t been the same team post-Shattenkirk, though Jake Allen coming alive has helped.
- Calgary beats Anaheim, six games. This is a bit of a reach, but the Ducks’ D is badly banged up and the Flames should be able to exploit that.
- Edmonton beats San Jose, six games. I think San Jose’s the best team in the Pacific, but with Couture out and Thornton walking wounded I don’t see how they handle McDavid.
- Montreal beats New York, six games. Carey Price and his D over Henrik Lundqvist and his.
- Boston beats Ottawa, five games. The Senators are the only team in the playoffs with a negative goal differential, though Anderson could steal this.
- Washington beats Toronto, five games. This Capitals team has no discernible weaknesses.
- Columbus beats Pittsburgh, six games. With Letang done for the year, the Pens are going to have a tough time handling the Jackets’ four(!) line attack.
- Chicago in SIX
- Minnesota in SEVEN
- Anaheim in FIVE
- Edmonton in FIVE
- Montreal in SIX
- Ottawa in SIX
- Washington in FIVE
- CBJ in SEVEN
Chicago in six. St. Louis in seven. Ducks in five. Oilers in six.
Montreal in six. Boston in six. Washington in five. Penguins in seven.
- Chicago in 6
- Minnesota in 5
- Anaheim in 6
- Edmonton in 6
- Montreal in 7
- Boston in 5
- Washington in 5
- Pittsburgh in 6
Chris the Intern:
- Chicago in 6. I think if there is ever a big upset to happen this year, Nashville would be the team to do it.
- St. Louis in 6
- Anaheim in 5. There’s a lot of doubt with Anaheim it seems heading into the post season, I don’t think the Flames stand a chance though.
- Edmonton in 6. GOILERS
- Montreal in 7. Good matchup, excited to watch the goalie battle.
- Boston in 6. The Atlantic is always a wildcard.
- Washington in 4. If there’s going to be a sweep in the first round, it will be this series.
- Pittsburg in 6. The Pens have Malkin back, they shouldn’t have an issue with the Jackets.
I take Chicago in 6
I take Minnesota in 7
I take Anaheim in 5
I take Edmonton in 6
I have Montreal in 7
Boston in 6
Washington in 5
Pittsburgh in 6
2) Which two teams make the Stanley Cup Finals? Who wins?
I will take Washington and Chicago and the Caps win in six.
Washington and Minnesota, with the Capitals winning it all. Again, this Washington team is just crazy-loaded. Top-end talent and good depth up front, a quality defence corps made better by the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk, and one of the best goalies in the NHL in Braden Holtby.
Chicago and Washington. I think this is the Capitals’ year. They have a lot of impending free agents, and the guys on the team know this group isn’t going to be together long. Kevin Shattenkirk has massively improved their blue line and power play, too. I also think the benefit of the Penguins being beaten up and tired from last year’s run will help Washington finally get over the hump.
Which two teams make the Stanley Cup Finals? Who wins? Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals, with the Capitals winning their first Stanley.
Chris the Intern:
Chicago will beat Washington in 7 games.
Oilers meet Washington in the Cup Finals with the Oilers winning in seven. Call me a homer all you want. I don’t care – I’m too excited.
3) Who is your dark horse team for the 2017 playoffs?
The Blues. No one is expecting much from them, but I won’t be surprised if they have a good run.
The Boston Bruins. The shot metrics love them, though I’m worried about that defence given their injury situation. Still, shot clock domination and Tuukka Rask in net is an intriguing combination.
The Oilers. People don’t give them much credit for being much more than a one-man show, but their second line has been revving up the engine as of late, and their blue line is low-key very solid. Also, when it comes to that one-man show, I think Connor McDavid is going to find another gear and impress beyond levels we’ve even seen so far.
Who is your dark horse team for the 2017 playoffs? Not really a darkhorse, but the Edmonton Oilers could go farther than people think. Minnesota is also being overlooked by many.
Chris the Intern:
I think it’s fair to call Oilers the dark horse. They have a playoff-built team that isn’t expected to go far, but they have the ability to.
I’m giving Boston the nod for the dark horse because not many people are expecting them to do anything.
4) Which player (from any team) will be this year’s Fernando Pisani?
A surprise scorer. I will go with Lars Eller from Washington.
Brett Connolly. I’ll stick with my Washington prediction, and I like Connolly’s chances of breaking out in the postseason. He’s kind of evolved into a two-way, middle-six guy but he was drafted as an elite goalscorer and put up 15 for the Caps this year. I’ve long thought there’s a player there, and if things break right he just might break out.
I don’t see a guy coming out of nowhere like Pisano did, but I’m interested to see what Drake Caggiula will do.
I think Jay Beagle will have a big playoff run with the Capitals. He always seems to be involved in big plays, whether it be defensively or a big momentum changing goal.
Which player (from any team) will be this year’s Fernando Pisani? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He has had a difficult regular season but remains a very talented player.
Chris the Intern:
MARK – LETESTU – *CLAP-CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP*
I’m going to say my boy Nuge is going to light it up in the playoffs. It’s his birthday today, he’s playing his first ever playoff game, and he’s going to make points rain down like hundos on strippers.