2017 Stanley Cup Playoff
Conference Finals Preview
As we near the end of the hockey season, we move on to the next chapter in the NHL playoffs with the conference finals. Some would say that this outcome is extremely surprising, but nonetheless the Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators and defending champions Pittsburgh Penguins are 8 games away from lifting Lord Stanley over their heads. It all starts Friday May 12th with the Western Final between the Preds and Ducks.
Join the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs fantasy draft starting this Wednesday (Enter Now). Here are insights into each series, and we break them down one by one.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS (41-29-12) vs. ANAHEIM DUCKS (46-23-13)
Season series (2-1 ANA)
The Anaheim Ducks return to their second conference final in three seasons and will meet the Nashville Predators, an exciting and fast team that has reached the third round for the first time in franchise history.
These two teams have met in the post-season twice before, with their previous series coming in 2015-16 and ending in a seven-game win for the Predators.
Anaheim, a 105-point team, are the veteran-laden squad with a long track record playing the role of Stanley Cup contender, but not actually being able to cross the finish line since 2007. At that point, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, two key cogs of the current lineup, were young support players on an older roster. Now, they have unfinished business of winning a Cup as the leaders of a team with another young core on its way up that includes Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Cam Folwer and Nick Ritchie.
Nashville came in as the eighth seed in the West, but has rolled through the dynastic Blackhawks and a transitioning Blues team that rode a hot goalie into Round 2. The Preds can give Anaheim a run for its money with an equally deep blue-line unit, and they play an up-tempo style similar to Edmonton, who came within a whisker of knocking off the Ducks. Not to mention, the Preds also have an incredibly hot goaltender of their own.
OTTAWA SENATORS (44-28-10) vs. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (50-21-11)
Season Series (2-1 OTT)
The Pittsburgh Penguins will clash with the Ottawa Senators in the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, a 111-point team defending its title against a 98-point team that has shocked most by getting this far.
This will be the fifth series between these two teams, with the Penguins winning the past four. Their last series came in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, which the Pens won 4-1 before getting eliminated in the conference final.
On display will be two of the sport’s best talents. Erik Karlsson has seemingly forced himself into the “best player in the world” debate from the last portion of the regular season through his incredible playoff run so far. And we all know about Sidney Crosby and his reputation for shining in the big moment. Beyond those two, the Penguins have an unusual depth of superstar talent capable of decisively swinging a series, while the Sens have got here with a lot of support from some unlikely places.