After doing a rather poor job predicting the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, we here at Defending Big D tried to redeem ourselves with our second round picks. It did not go well. Except for Mark, that is:
Collectively, we went 0-4 on predicting the second round winners. But we will not be deterred! We will succeed this time! Or at least break even.
So here are our predictions for the Western and Eastern Conference Finals. As before, we’ll keep a tally for each series so you see what the consensus is. And if you don’t want to be spoiled, I would advise skipping Mark’s predictions.
San Jose Sharks (Pacific) vs St. Louis Blues (Central)
Taylor: I’m 100% here to watch the Jumbo Joe Rooster Trick in the playoffs. Sharks in 6.
Robert: Sharks go up 3-0, Blues win three straight, then San Jose says yay. Sharks in 7
Logan: St. Louis rode hot goaltending through the second round and all the way through a gritty 2OT Game 7, while San Jose was aided by controversial goal calls in yet another Game 7. This one is going to go all the way. Blues in 7 (and possibly some OT).
Derek: The Blues have been on an incredible run since the latter half of the regular season, but this Sharks team is more playoff-tested. They’ll also have the added motivation of getting Jumbo Joe his first Cup. Sharks in 7.
Wes: The Sharks are Martin Jones’ team. During the regular season, that meant the league’s worst goaltending (.896 SV%) undercut an otherwise impressive contender. Skepticism heading into the playoffs was not just fair, but obligatory. Just ask Andrei Vasilevsky (.856 SV%) and the Tampa Bay Lightning how well arrangements like that turn out. Only, a funny thing happened on the way to the Western Conference Final. While it’s not going to threaten Ben Bishop, Jones has bumped his save percentage up to a very-winnable .910.
With the goaltending box checked, San Jose’s true strength (puck possession) could flourish. St. Louis has done a tremendous job against a pair of very good teams. A big part of that success has been an ability to apply pressure on the forecheck, and to maintain unrelenting offensive zone pressure. Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are the marquee names atop a strong defensive unit. There are no Roman Polaks in San Jose. The Sharks (again assuming Jones remains as currently constituted) are the first complete team the Blues have faced this post-season, and that will make the difference. Sharks in 6 (unless Jones turns into a pumpkin, in which case Blues in 5)
[Editor’s Note: What happened to “short and sweet”, Wes?]
Ann: With bitterness in my heart I root for the Sharks to absolutely demolish the Blues in this round. Can Martin Jones actually turn up the heat to outlast Jordan Binnington? Probably not. But maybe if I believe hard enough. Sharks in 6.
Tyler: Even though I picked San Jose to win the West before the season, I’m not the type of person who feels like they have to “stick with it.” That being said, San Jose is the better team. Sharks in 6.
Rob M: I‘m petty and will pick San Jose out of nothing more than my current disdain for St. Louis sports. In all seriousness, San Jose has a certain vibe around them and Jumbo Joe deserves a shot at the Cup in the twilight of a HoF career. Sharks in 7.
Mark: Contrasting styles will come down to goaltending. Martin Jones can’t keep up. Blues in 7.
Cody: I’m bitter. Sharks in 4.
Final Tally: Sharks 7, Blues 2
Boston Bruins (Atlantic) vs Carolina Hurricanes (Metropolitan)
Taylor: The Bunch of Jerks was one of my favorite things to come out of the NHL regular season, and I can’t even imagine what storm surges in a Cup Final would do to Don Cherry (if you’re in the Final, you basically have to do them again, right?). Hurricanes in 6.
Robert: Look, we all know how this works. Don’t make Mike Milbury come down there, refs. Bruins in 4.
Logan: Can Boston utilize their aggressive style of play to edge the hot, determined Hurricanes? Or will the “Bunch of Jerks” be able to shut down the physical efforts of Boston’s top lines? I’m firmly sold on #WildCardChaosSquad, so this is a no-brainer for me. Hurricanes in 6.
Derek: Much like the series in the Western Conference, we have a team on an incredible run taking on a grizzled veteran team that has been here before. That experience will help push them through, even though the Canes will put up a fight. Boston in 6.
Wes: Is Petr Mrazek healthy? Is Curtis McElhinney really a .947 SV% / 1.56 GAA goaltender? Do a disjointed (and beat up) Washington Capitals squad and toothless New York Islanders group represent the same level of challenge as the Boston Bruins? The Storm might surge, but eventually, waves recede, you know? There’s also the small matter of stopping the Patrice Bergeron, David Pasternak, Brad Marchand unit over the course of a seven game series. The ride ends in round 3. Carolina’s stellar defense stands as good a chance as anyone, but the Bruins have too many tools in the toolbox. Boston in 6.
Ann: If Don Cherry hates the Bunch of Jerks that’s good enough for me. I picked Islanders last round and through the egg on my face I’m going to choose against Brad Marchand’s elbows and go with the team that’s made me feel happy all spring. WILD CARD CHAOS SQUAD. Hurricanes in 6.
Tyler: After sweeping a sweeper, the Hurricanes might as well get swept themselves. Plus a Thornton versus Boston Final always seemed inevitable at some point. Destiny still arrives. Bruins in 4.
Rob M: In the year of the Wild Card, the wildest bunch of all will turn the Eastern Conference on its head and defeat Boston to go to the Stanley Cup Final. Plus, Brad Marchand deserves to be sent home by a bunch of jerks. Hurricanes in 6.
Mark: A bunch of friendly jerks versus an old school jerk. Tuuka Rask can’t hold off the storm surge. Hurricanes in 6.
Cody: Remember that game against the Bruins where Jason Dickinson scored the lone goal in overtime to win 1-0? Those were fun times. Then remember when the Stars went to Carolina and they beat Dallas 3-0 after already losing to Tampa Bay before that? That wasn’t fun. Anyways, Bruins in 5.
Final Tally: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 4