The NHL's version of the frozen four is now set. The President's Trophy-winning New York Rangers will face the Sunbelt darling Tampa Bay Lightning, while out west it's a veritable clash of the titans, with the Anaheim Ducks taking on the dangerous Chicago Blackhawks.
Congratulations to community member Devin N for taking top spot in round two of our predictions contest. Devin went a perfect 4-0 and picked up a bonus point for calling the Tampa Bay - Montreal series in six games for a grand total of nine points, tying him with Panther_fan93 and Rat-a-Holic (who took first round honors). It came down to the tiebreaker, which Devin hit right on the proverbial head, 28 total goals in the Ducks - Flames series. Well done, sir. Honorable mention goes to amaza89, who also went 4-0, but failed to collect any bonus points. Hats off to that quartet for being perfect. Shane did the best among the LBC staff, going 3-1 with 2 bonus points.
Here are the official results for the second round:
|Name||Series Winners||Bonus Points||Total|
|Devin N||4||1||9 (28)|
|hockey in Florida||2||0||4|
Get your picks in for the Conference Finals below in the comment section. Pick the two series-winners, the number of games it will take for each to clinch, the tiebreaker is the total goals in the Anaheim and Chicago series and I'm adding a super-tiebreaker in case multiple people pick the exact same thing: the player who will score the series-winning goal between New York and Tampa Bay. Chances are the super-tiebreaker will not come into play, but with only two series, you never know, it just might.
New York Rangers – Tampa Bay Lightning: Having gone all-in on the Habs in the second round, I'll eat my humble pie and move along. The Ryan Callahan injury (emergency appendectomy) has yet to hurt Tampa Bay on the ice, though only a single game has been played since, and he'll likely return soon. Call it a wait-and-see down the stretch, but Steven Stamkos has really upped his presence as the postseason has progressed, making it difficult in my eyes to select against the club taking this round if Ben Bishop remains focused. I'm biased toward the Bolts in any case - not that I hate the Rags, but I've held a soft spot for the Lightning since day one - so I'm approaching this series with prejudice anyway. Lightning in five
Anaheim - Chicago: Ugh. New blood is nowhere to be found. I haven't closely followed any action in the Wild West this spring, though that might have played out differently had Winnipeg (maybe), Minnesota (probably), or Calgary (definitely) advanced to the conference final. That said I'll be cheering for Anaheim because, well, '93 expansion brothers to the Cats and all. The possibility of a fourth Stanley Cup victory parade in the Los Angeles region over the past nine years seems a lovely "screw you" to The Establishment, as well. Also I'm thoroughly tired of the Hawks. Ducks in six
Tiebreaker: total goals in Ducks - Blackhawks series: 36
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores series-winning goal in Rangers - Lightning series: Callahan
New York Rangers - Tampa Bay Lightning: In my opinion one word will decide this series, and that's consistency. The Rangers have it in spades. They play the same way every night and either win close or lose close. The Lightning have at times looked great, and at other times looked pretty bad. If the Bolts bring their "A" game enough, they will outscore the anemic Broadway Blueshirts and win the series. If they do not, the Rangers will grind out the win and make a second straight trip to the finals. I want to pick the Lightning... and I will. The win over the Capitals will sap the Rangers enough that Tampa Bay, despite its playoff warts, will take it. Lightning in six
Anaheim - Chicago: Chicago was extremely impressive in dismissing the Wild in four, but I picked the Ducks to win it all back before the season started so I'll stick to my guns here. Anaheim is the NHL's best in my eyes and Corey Perry, if close to 100%, will again be the difference. Ducks in six
Tiebreaker: total goals in Ducks - Blackhawks series: 33
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores series-winning goal in Rangers - Lightning series: Nikita Kucherov
New York Rangers - Tampa Bay Lightning: Tampa (based on regular season results) is better vs. the Rangers than Washington, but the defense the Rangers are playing, and King Lundqvist give the Rangers enough edge to take this series in (of course) 7.
Anaheim - Chicago: This is really, really tough. Both these teams are on fire right now but I will go with Chicago because I think their goaltending is just slightly better. This one goes 7 games.
Tiebreaker: total goals in Ducks - Blackhawks series: 37
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores series-winning goal in Rangers - Lightning series: Chris Kreider (Who else!)
New York Rangers - Tampa Bay Lightning: I've been saying that the Stanley Cup Final would be the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks since the start of the season. After Tampa's dominant Game 6, I feel pretty confident in picking the Bolts over the Rags in six.
Anaheim - Chicago: When it comes to the West, Chicago is just too good to be stopped. Onward to the Cup Finals they go, beating Anaheim in six games.
Tiebreaker: total goals in Ducks - Blackhawks series: 23
Super tiebreaker: Player who will scores series-winning goal in Rangers - Lightning series: He's been quiet on the goal scoring front up to this point, but I've got Steven Stamkos delivering the dagger that ends New York's season.