The playoffs final round is finally here! This should be an exciting series to watch, with last season’s Stanley Cup winners facing off against an opponent making it to the finals for their first time. The HabsWorld team share their predictions about the final series, predicting who will win the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Stanley Cup Finals
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Nashville Predators
Brian La Rose predicts: Penguins in 6 games
Alexander Létourneau predicts: Penguins in 7 games
Hilding Gnanapragasam predicts: Penguins in 6 games
Craig Scharien predicts: Penguins in 6 games
Norm Szcyrek predicts: Predators in 6 games
Gordon Black predicts: Predators in 6 games
Paul MacLeod predicts: Penguins in 6 games
Jonathan Rebelo predicts: Penguins in 7 games
(Brian) Nashville keeps proving me wrong so part of me feels like I should pick them. However, I’m worried about what they have left for an offensive attack with Ryan Johansen in the lineup. The Penguins don’t have the greatest of defensive corps but they’ve handled better offences than the Predators can put together.
On the flip side, Pittsburgh has yet to face a defence quite like Nashville has. However, they’re starting to get healthy up front again and when they have their three line attack going, they’re hard to stop. The Penguins also have way more experience and while that’s far from everything, it certainly doesn’t hurt either. Repeat Cup champions are hard to come by in this day and age but that should change here.
(Alex) I’ve had Nashville losing in every round, so out of sheer bitter stubbornness, they lose to the Penguins in a hard fought classic. You have to think Pittsburgh are getting tired. Defending Stanley Cup champions going seven games in the last two rounds – Game 1 is going to be a tough one methinks for the Pens, while Nashville has played four games less and will have had a week’s rest. This is shaping up to be an offence wins games, defence wins championships type series. With the loss of Ryan Johansen, Pittsburgh’s forwards widen an already present advantage up top. On defence, Nashville ridicules Pittsburgh’s top six, and they’re banged up. It really says something about your depth when your third best defenceman is P.K. Subban, who by the way hasn’t scored a PPG in his last 28 playoff games. Unnecessary dig? Yes. Add jealousy to my bitterness and stubbornness. In net, while Pekka Rinne has been absolutely outstanding, Matt Murray has ice in veins. You know when *take your pick of the analyst* says ad nauseum that Carey Price is a cool customer? Matt Murray’s right in there. And he’s done this before. Just last year, actually. I don’t trust Rinne, mostly because I’ve drafted him in his off years in fantasy hockey, so I’m waiting for the regression I know he’s capable of. Frankly, had the Pens finished off Washington in five like they should have, and Ottawa in six, like they should have, I’d have to think they’d be a sure bet. But Nashville is playing great, and Pittsburgh looked tired at times during the last few games. Ultimately, I can’t see Crosby denied another accolade, this should be a fun ride.
(Hilding) Two pretty prominent stories stack up against one another in this one. Subban aside, the Predators make for a pretty great Playoff Darling. From a troubled start to the season, to overcoming injuries, to doing it without Weber, they are a headline factory on skates. On the other side, the Penguins are quite the opposite of a Cinderella team. Instead, they are the reigning incumbent, led by Captain Canada, he of the Golden Goal, who looks to elevate his legendary status to yet another stratosphere. As a team, the Penguins can be the first to hoist Stanley’s prize in consecutive years in nearly two decades. In the end, I believe the dramatics will give way to who is simply the better team and that has to be the Penguins. The Johansen injury is a massive blow to the Predators and while the Predators boast the league’s best defence, the Penguins’ firepower will prove to be too much for even them.
(Craig) I’m going to predict the Penguins will win in six games, because of their experience, secondary scoring, and Sidney Crosby of course.
(Norm) This is such a difficult Stanley Cup final to predict. My heart says one thing, my head says the other. Breaking that statement down further, my head says to pick Pittsburgh. The team is basically the same one that won it all last season, and are getting similar results so far this season. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby lead the playoffs in scoring, with Phil Kessel tied for 3rd. Their goaltending has been strong with Marc-Andre Fleury in net at the start; when he faltered a healthy Matt Murray came in and was excellent. Their defence is missing their number one skater in Kris Letang, but other veterans such as former Habs Mark Streit and Ron Hainsey have helped pick up the slack. With all of these factors and the home ice advantage for the finals, the Penguins are the favourites.
When it comes to my heart, I say Nashville will be the team to beat. Their defence has been incredible on both sides of the red line. Their top four of Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and former Hab P.K. Subban have contributed an outstanding effort towards their offence, something none of their opponents have been able to contain. As well, their defensive group have neutralized the scoring from some of the top scorers in the game, including Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan Getzlaf. When it comes to goaltending, no one has been better than Pekka Rinne, who has managed a mere 1.70 goals against average with a .941 save percentage. On offence, Filip Forsberg has been very impressive with 8 goals and 15 points. But the Predators offence has been spread out very well among all 4 lines, which is difficult for an opponent to deal with.
Both teams have had some injury setbacks, but I am going to go with the underdog Predators team, with the hope that I get to see Subban lift the Stanley Cup after the last game is over.
(Gordon) Even after losing Johansen and getting goaltending a little more like what Rinne has been averaging the last few seasons, the Preds still came out of the Western Conference in convincing fashion. Bergevin needs to take notes because it is speed and a mobile defence that can join the rush and get back on transition that has them where they are. The Pens got through by the slimmest of margins, and while they should be getting slightly healthier, they have dominated games but not series so far. Murray is a very solid upgrade in net and Malkin looks like he’s found a new gear; this, along with solid coaching and some vintage Crosby means they are always a dangerous opponent. Should be some pretty entertaining hockey but Pittsburgh squad hasn’t had to play against a team that could activate from the back end like this* – and I don’t know that they’ll have an answer apart from hoping to ride a hot goalie (*exception: Erik Karlsson, who proves this point).
(Paul) The battered but resilient Penguins will solve Pekka Rinne to dispatch the over-achieving Predators in 6 games.
(Jonathan) The Penguins have managed to survive this far with one of the worst defensive units to ever make it to the cup finals. The depth up front is remarkable. Sid, Gino and the American University boys will be inspired by the return of Patric Hornqvist and they will edge the Predators in 7 games.
P.K. Subban will be a star during the series and will score three goals and add four or five assists but his dream of winning the holy grail will wait.