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The Western conference final begins Sunday afternoon, with the Los Angeles Kings in the Windy City to take on the Chicago Blackhawks with the winner moving on to the Stanley Cup Final. Here are the HabsWorld contributors predictions for what should be another epic rematch of these two teams.

Western Conference

Chicago vs Los Angeles

Brian La Rose predicts: Chicago in 7
Alex Létourneau predicts: Chicago in 6
Simon Aronson predicts: Chicago in 7
Norm Szcyrek predicts: Chicago in 7

(Brian) Neither side has had a particularly easy run so far with the Blackhawks having their struggles at times against St. Louis and Minnesota while the Kings’ run to this point has seen them facing elimination a half a dozen times already (going 6-0 in those games).

I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Chicago yet. At times in this postseason they’ve been dominant but at others, they’ve looked like more of an average team at best. If we see more of the former than the latter this round, this could be over somewhat quickly.

However, Los Angeles will prevent this from being over quickly. Their physical style will prevent Chicago from getting as many chances as they’d like while they will wear down some of the Blackhawks’ forwards as the series goes on. Jonathan Quick will, as usual, steal a game or two along the way as well.

Since the NHL changed to all 7-game series, no team has made it to the Stanley Cup Final after going seven games in each of the first two rounds. I don’t think that’s about to change this time. There’s a good chance that this series goes the distance but as the Kings hit Game #21, fatigue is going to hit them more than it will the Blackhawks in a Game 7 situation. That gives Chicago the narrowest of edges and that may very well be the difference in this matchup.

(Alex) Los Angeles seems to enjoy putting itself into positions of desperation and that won’t fly once Chicago gets them on the ropes. The Blackhawks are the best team remaining in these playoffs and the Toews, Kane, Crawford tandem look great. The other stars aren’t looking too shabby either. Los Angeles has looked lost at times during these playoffs, Chicago will punish that.

(Simon) I think the defending champs will prevail.

(Norm) This series represents another classic playoff match, with two equally hot teams entering this round. Both have ample experience in the playoffs with the nucleus of the squads having recent success the past few seasons. This will be a rematch from last year’s Western conference final where Chicago prevailed. Both teams are pretty equally matched, and because of that this series will be a close fought war, with Chicago repeating their success from last year.