The NHL begins their conference finals round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight. The Nashville Predators will take on the Anaheim Ducks out West, and the Ottawa Senators will take on the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins out East. Who do we see winning and advancing to the Stanley Cup Final this season?
Anaheim Ducks vs Nashville Predators
Staff Favorite - Predators picked to win by 11 of 12 staffers
Taylor: The pressure resides with Anaheim to win with their aging core up front, but the Predators have the swagger of youthful excitement. Preds in 6.
Erin: Now that the Stars have gained the maximum return from Patrick Eaves and the obnoxious Oilers have been eliminated, I am pretty ready for the Ducks to go away. They weren't very impressive against Edmonton, and the Preds have P.K. Subban, who is out to make the NHL suits scream. That I can get behind. Preds in 7.
There once was a ratbag named Corey
With vile visage insistently hoary
All who knew him grew callous
(though his team helped out Dallas)
Anaheimme, all goode people deplore ye. Perds in 4.
Ann: Now that we have our draft pick I care very little about what happens to the Ducks. Also, I just don't see anything stopping the Subban express train coming out of Nashville. Predators in 6.
Wes: Now that Dallas has banked an upgraded draft pick, any goodwill I felt towards the Quackers can fall away. Nashville has a whiff of destiny about them. More importantly, Nashville has great goaltending, speed up top, and a fantastic defense. This will be a great series. Predators in 7.
David: Anaheim is the most exciting team in the playoffs. I'd argue their blueline is a tad better than Nashville when you take into account their 3rd pairing. I'm a PK fan above all else, but Anaheim's forward depth is a bit better. Especially if Eaves is once more into the breach. Ducks in 7.
Melissa: Thankfully, I no longer feel the need to cheer for the Ducks. The Preds keep on rolling, thanks to another big series from Pekka Rinne. Predators in 6.
Kathleen: This means war. The Ducks have to feel almost immortal after winning Game 7 - but the Preds actually look godlike. This could be a better matchup than the final. Predators in 7.
Huw: We can stop supporting the Ducks now that we have the second first rounder. I'm not convinced the Ducks struggles through the second round against the Oilers bodes well for them while the Predators have been in pretty good form. Preds in 7.
Derek: The Predators steamrolled through Chicago, and never seemed fully tested against St. Louis. Their home crowd, quickly growing into one of the best in the NHL, is a real asset. This will be their greatest test yet, but there's just something special about this team this year. Preds in 6.
Mike: What do the old legs of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have left after seven games against Edmonton? One thing is for sure: Bridgestone Arena will be insane. I'm all in on Smashville. Preds in 6.
Jordan: This Nashville run feels so similar to the Kings run in 2012. There's a little eight next to their name but that number could not be more deceiving. I don't see many scenarios where the Predators lose this series outside of Pekka Rinne's game falling off a cliff (which isn't impossible). Marc Bergevin weeps as P.K. Subban heads to the Stanley Cup Final. Predators in 6.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators
Staff Favorite - Penguins barely edge out Senators in staff picks
Taylor: Erik Karlsson is having an excellent postseason. But not as excellent as one Marc-Andre Fleury. Pens in 6.
Erin: I'm shooting close to 0 percent for the Eastern conference this year, so take this for what it's worth. The Penguins are beat to heck, but they will not let pesky potential head injuries stand into the way of putting their best players on the ice. I'm not impressed with how they're doing it, but there's no denying they look like they could be doing it again. Penguins in 6.
Robert: The Pens aren't actually playing with a blue line, and the Senators aren't a very good team. Neither one should really be here. So, uh, Sens in 7.
Ann: As impressive as the Senators' post season has been, Erik Karlsson is but one man, and one foot. Penguins in 6.
David: Even the zombie CPU of Crosby with two cobs of corn (copyright, Kent Russell 2017) should be able to overcome the rag tag Sens club. Ottawa has an underrated support group around Karlsson but the Penguins have Malkin and just a few more cobs on their corn. Penguins in 5.
Wes: Is anybody healthy? The Pens have to be worried about Crosby's brain, and a possible sag after the tough Capitals series. The Sens are basically Playing-Injured Erik Karlsson. Pittsburgh's ability to ice elite talent on two separate lines if they have to will decide the series. Penguins in 5.
Melissa: Craig Anderson comes up big, and Erik Karlsson is a problem that the Penguins can't quite solve. Senators in 6.
Kathleen: The Pens should romp with this one. The stats are 99.44% against the Senators. But the Sens shouldn't have gotten this far, by all rights, and yet they keep digging deeper. I'm flipping a coin. Senators in 6.
Huw: I am not convinced there is much between these two sides so it is going to go the distance in my eyes. It will probably come down to triple overtime in game seven and Karlsson continuing his excellent post season. Senators in 7.
Derek: The run that the Senators have been on so far has been pretty magical, exceeding all expectations, but they have yet to face a truly dangerous team like Pittsburgh. The Penguins are more skilled, more experienced, and seem just as hungry to win the Cup once again this year. Penguins in 5.
Mike: Can Erik Karlsson (on one foot) carry the Sens past the mighty Penguins? Nope. Sid, Malkin and Fluery will be too much for a scrappy Senators team. Penguins in 5.
Jordan: The Senators have been doubted the entire postseason and that exterior-doubt will reach critical mass in this series. Nobody is going to give them a chance to win this thing and since it's hockey, they probably will. The two best players in the NHL going head-to-head will be quite the sight. Senators in 6.