Eastern Conference Final: Bruins vs Hurricanes
The Eastern Conference Final pits what can be considered this years “Cinderella story” the Hurricanes, against a team most love to hate in the Bruins. The Bruins are in their first conference final since 2013 while the Hurricanes are hoping to ride the wave to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2006 when Justin Williams tapped the puck into the empty net, sealing the Stanley Cup for the Hurricanes.
In a playoffs defined by unpredictability, the Bruins have solidified their standing as one of the NHL’s elite teams in defeating the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets, both quite handily at the end of the day. The Hurricanes can and will challenge the Bruins with their style of aggressive play and speed, but on most nights they are going to be outmatched by a better team. Rask is playing extremely well while the Hurricanes reply on a less seasoned goaltender in Mrazek. The Bruins main line can’t be silenced forever, Boston has renewed passion and will ultimately serve as too much for the Hurricanes.
FANPICKS PREDICTION: Boston in five
Western Conference Final: Blues vs Sharks
This is a rematch of the 2016 Western Conference Final, which was won by the Sharks in six games. For both the Sharks and Blues it represented their best playoff runs of the 21st century, and ever since they just haven’t been able to live up to expectations.
Since 2000, the Sharks and Blues have the second- and sixth-most cumulative regular season points in the league, however neither have a Stanley Cup to show for it. This year may be as good a chance as any to put those demons to bed.
Injuries remain the concern for the Sharks top D-man Erik Karlsson. He hasn’t scored a goal yet these playoffs, and while Karlsson brings that offensive dynamism, when he’s on the ice the Sharks are allowing more goals than they are scoring.
The Blues have been excellent on the forecheck and cycle throughout the playoffs, carrying the play and applying immense pressure in key moments. This pressure will eventually be overwhelming for an already worn down Sharks defence and aging players such as Joe Thorton, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Justin Braun, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
FANPICKS PREDICTION: Blues in six
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