So we’re into the conference finals, and I have to say if you told me the Blues, Sharks, Penguins and Lightning would be the 4 teams left, I would be quite surprised. Even though I did pick 2 out of the 4 of these teams (Sharks and Penguins) to make it to this point, I may have not even believed myself.
While there’s certainly been some excitement including two Game 7’s out of the Western Conference, this Stanley Cup Playoff has been missing some of that electricity it usually has. Maybe because the last few Game 7’s were laughers or that the teams really just aren’t that intriguing, it certainly hasn’t been the same.
That should change in the Conference Finals though as both match ups play fairly evenly, we should see a lot of exciting games.
#2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #2 Tampa Bay Lightning
Both teams are going to be coming into this series with a lot of confidence having played really well in their respective semi final match match ups. I’ve doubted both of these teams at times during the regular season and they’ve both really turned it up a notch.
For the Steel City, they have to be coming into this series feeling like a big weight is lifted after handling the best team in hockey fairly easily. Now I certainly wasn’t surprised that a veteran team like Pittsburgh was able to handle the Caps that easily, a team notoriously known for choking, but they still have to have a lot of confidence from it. Tendy Matt Murray continues to impress, and was a total wall last series. Because they’re not as strong defensively as they once were, they seem to be relying on their goaltending a lot more in which Murray has CERTAINLY handled well. Bonino stepped up big time last series and the Pens are +7 when he’s on the ice. Phat Phil is looking great and made up for Crosby’s poor play thus far. Sid and Malkin are really going to have to step up for this team to continue on as the 2 of them make up for a combined -1 during their ice time.
Tampa has been a team that I have doubted now in two consecutive series. I’ve thought that the loss of Stamkos would catch up with them in both series, and thus far it has yet to be an issue. KIM that they’ve also played played probably two of the three worst teams in the playoffs thus far though. Goaltending has also been a big part of the Lightning’s run as Big Ben Bishop has been playing like a stud as usual in the playoffs. But seriously, Big Ben is a fucking MASSIVE dude. Like should be illegal to even have a guy that big in net. Johnson and Kucherov have probably been the most impressive duo of any two players in this years Playoffs and the Big 2 are going to need some big help from Drouin, Killorn and Hedman if they stand a chance.
Phat Phil marches on.
Pittsburgh in 6 games
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #3 San Jose Sharks
Both teams are coming off Game 7 victories and both showed a lot of strengths and a some weaknesses in the series. At this point, it seems like destiny for both of these teams to advance, however last time I checked only 1 team can move on.
I said it in the last preview, Fabbri and Vinny T are probably my two favorite players to watch in the entire league. The Fadbri-Brouwer-Stastny line looked really really really impressive and San Jose is going to be in a lot of trouble if St. Louis gets the same production from that line again. Brian Elliot hasn’t looked extremely sharp so they’ll be once again leaning on Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo to play really well. Overall the Blues are definitely the deepest team and can beat you in a lot of different ways. They’ve proven that they can come from behind and play in high scoring games, which I didn’t think they could coming into the Playoffs. However, they did play last series without seeing Seguin on the ice for Dallas.
For my Sharks, Logan Couture is fucking back and back in a big way. His 17 points lead all players this playoffs and Burnsy and Pavelski are right behind him, respectively with 15 and 13 points. And even at their old ages Ole Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are still contributing BIG time. The old couple have 20 points between them. The biggest thing for the Sharks yet again is are they going to be able to constantly put the puck in the net? You know the Sharks are going to give up goals, probably 3 or 4 every game. We’ve also yet to see the Sharks really play well from behind so if the Blues can get up early, they could be in trouble.
Both of these teams are really deep. Except quick line shifts, a lot of goals and hell of a lot of action. As much as I’ve loved my Sharks for the past few weeks, it just seems like destiny for the Blues.
Tarasenkos St. Louis in 7 games