2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final Prediction

Stanley Cup playoff tree image via NHL.com

I can’t say I’m proud of my predictions so far, but I’m sure there are many out there just like me who didn’t see this final coming.

From the Eastern Conference we have the sixth seed New Jersey Devils, and from the West we have the eighth seed Los Angeles Kings. Both teams have surprised a lot of people, but they definitely deserve to play in the finals with the efforts they’ve put in. Let’s take a look at each team and the path they’ve taken to get here:

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings have had to face the top three seeds in the West to get to this point. They took out the Canucks in five, the Blues in four and the Coyotes in five – that’s impressive. Goalie Jonathan Quick has been a vital part of his team’s run, going 12-2 with a GAA of 1.54 and a save % of .946, both good for top spot in the playoffs (looking at goalies who have played more than five games).  They’ve also received some key offense from their top players like Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar who are 3rd and 5th in playoff scoring, respectively. The Kings will be a force to reckon with – and we’ve established they don’t need home ice advantage to win a series.

New Jersey Devils

With three of the top 10 scorers in the playoffs (Kovalchuck, Parise, Zajac) the Devils aren’t the boring defense-only team they used to be. They’re showing they can put the puck in the net without the benefit of a Martin Brodeur on his A-game – though he’s been solid in net and is keeping his team in the game, which is all that matters.

Who will take it?

It’s a tough decision. The Kings have been playing some outstanding hockey and as the eighth seed, statistically shouldn’t be playing. They’ve proven that they can handle the big guys, don’t care about home ice advantage and are playing smart, disciplined hockey. The Devils, as the sixth seed from the East have been just as, if not more surprising this post season as well. They have home ice for the first time all playoffs and that should be beneficial because they won’t have to deal with the time zone changes as much as the Kings, which is helpful to Brodeur who will need as much rest as he can get.

All that being said, based on their dominance throughout the playoffs, it’s a safe bet to go with Los Angeles taking the cup in 5 games. Let’s hope they don’t prove me wrong.

2012 NHL Playoff Predictions: Third Round

2012 NHL Playoff Predictions: Third Round

Another round, another crop of upsets.

As with every other year, the NHL Playoffs show how much competition the league has by throwing out all conventions that the best regular season team wins. They may not make for good American ratings, but as a hockey fan I’m happy that there’s such a good competition going on.

With the Conference Finals about to get under way we see both series feature division rivals, so they both know each other very well. Time to get on to my predictions…

Western Conference

The L.A. Kings are the 8th seed and they just steam rolled the #1 and #2 seed Canucks and Blues, so you’d think they would have no trouble against the Coyotes right? Wrong. Phoenix has shown it means business by beating the Blackhawks and Predators with the help of their red-hot goalie, Mike Smith who has a .948 save % with a GAA of 1.77. The biggest obstacle for the Coyotes however, is Jonathan Quick who tops Smith’s stats with a .949 save % and a GAA of 1.55. This one should obviously be a battle of the goalies, so don’t expect much scoring. I’m going to take the Kings in 6.

Eastern Conference

The New Jersey Devils have been a bit of a shock for me, but then again they usually sneak past everyone in the regular season, so why not keep it up in the playoffs? Their now 40-year old goalie Martin Brodeur has managed to step up once again posting a respectable .920 sv % with a GAA of 2.05. On top of Brodeur’s play, the team has been getting scoring from the players that need to provide it, like Kovalchuk (12 pts), Zajac (10 pts) and Parise (8pts). Coach Robinson is doing a great job of blending defensive-minded play with a potent offense that teams have to look out for now. Of course they’re going up against the #1 seed that’s managed to not get upset these playoffs, the New York Rangers. The team has been backed by Henrik Lundqvist with a stunning 1.68 GAA and a save % of .937 (not quite as good as the Westerners, but definitely commendable). Though I usually go for the underdogs, I kind of want the Rangers to make it to the finals. I’ll say New York takes this one in 6.

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