Sadly with the sentimental favorite now out of the way the BR staff would like to offer our final four and Stanley Cup winner predictions. We’ll see who ends up with the best picks!
Who will win the Golden Knights – Canadiens series?
Vlad: Vegas has taken the mantle of the Stanley Cup favorites, but whatever; if Carey Price continues to be on his game, that cancels out any advantage that Marc-Andre Fleury provides in the crease. That said, I expect Vegas to take down Montreal in six games. Montreal just doesn’t match up in my eyes. (Which will make a Montreal win over Vegas a spectacle worthy of the Strip if it happens!)
Steph: The Winnipeg Jets swept the Edmonton OIlers, and then the Montreal Canadiens swept the Jets. Therefore, the Vegas Golden Knights will sweep the Habs. ez.
No, really, I don’t see this series being particularly close (although the score of every game probably will be). That’s a real good hockey team, real good. Vegas do have struggles when it comes to putting the actual puck in the actual net, which is where Carey Price can steal a game, but nobody in the north has played against a defense since the bubble. Vegas in 5. Maybe 6 if DeBoer loses his mind and starts Lehner again.
Jackie: What the Habs have done to get this far is admirable but Vegas really should take this series. The rest vs. rust conversation applies to Montreal as well and they may experience a bit more adjustment due to the lengthy (nearly a five hour flight) travel in this series. I’ll give a generous push to six games but Vegas will get it done.
Earl: Nothing Montreal has done so far has made much sense. They couldn’t have entered the playoffs on a lower note and the silly coaching decisions began immediately and have continued even through two nice series wins. Carey Price suddenly finding his game again has hidden a boatload of flaws and they’ve gotten extremely lucky in several areas. Soooo, lucky and a hot goalie, sounds like a winner to me! I think Vegas will struggle with a few things other than that. The Habs are fine playing slow, grindy games and letting their 4th slash 1st line with Perry & Staal break hearts with lolgoals. I’ll call the Canadiens in a total what the fuck OT goal in game 7.
Who will win the Lightning – Islanders series?
Vlad: I really would like to see the Islanders win this series, if anything, to see Semyon Varlamov reach the top of the championship hill. Barry Trotz has a Stanley Cup on his resume, and his squad has turned in an impressive performance in knocking out both Pittsburgh and Boston, respectively, this postseason. However, Jon Cooper can likewise say the same about winning the Cup as his squad is the defending champion, and those weapons up front in Tampa will be a big test for the Islander defense. Unfortunately, it won’t be one they pass. Tampa in seven games.
Steph: I don’t like either of these teams, I’ve barely watched either of these teams, this is a really tough series for me. I’m not opposed to seeing friend of the show Semyon Varlamov get to a cup final, but I am opposed to watching a single Islanders game that I don’t have to, but also Tampa’s illegal roster is super bogus. So I can’t even really pick a side based on sheer homerism. We’ll give the edge to Tampa and I’ll roll a d7 for the number of games. (clack) 3? That… Huh.
Jackie: This is a boring match between two teams that like to grind it out and wait for skill to find opportune times to pounce. Also, a rematch of last year’s third round series in the bubble is a stark contrast to the insanity of a Vegas-Montreal third round. The Islanders are a pesky team and very tough to eliminate and can win after getting down in a series. Tampa won last year in six and I see history repeating.
Earl: Tampa sold out going from a quick, skilled team to a Pittsburgh/Boston clone to finally win a Cup vs a loser Dallas club last year. That ain’t happenin’ again. Devon Toews was far too interesting so the Islanders had to get rid of him. After a regular season just good enough to make the cut, Trotz has the Islanders right where he wants them. Ready to make every hockey fan on the East Coast claw their eyes out rather than watch another minute of this series. Islanders in 5.
Who will win the Stanley Cup final?
Vlad: I expect Tampa to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.
Steph: This has been Vegas’s Cup to win (and Colorado’s to lose, which they did) since the first round saw Vegas survive Minnesota, and the winner of the West draw the winner of the North. Vegas wins this and I can’t see it taking more than 6 games. If Vegas loses more than 2 or 3 games the rest of the way I will legitimately be surprised.
Jackie: Repeats are no fun so I’ll go with Vegas. Probably in seven just to irritate me and delay as long as possible getting to what should be a busy start to the offseason.
Earl: Montreal sweeps the Islanders of course
Alternatively, who do you want to win the Stanley Cup? (Meteor is an acceptable answer).
Vlad: With as wacky as this season has been, nothing would be more fitting than seeing Montreal finally end the Canadian Cup drought and bring Lord Stanley back to La Belle Province. Carey Price would be celebrated with a hero’s welcome anywhere in Canada for the rest of his life, and would bring much-needed validation to his reputation (and contract) as one of the best goaltenders in the game. The Islanders would be a nice, feelgood story for their fans, especially after all they’ve gone through over the years, but I just can’t see them out-dueling Tampa. That said, I can’t fully bring myself to cheer for a Tampa win after their salary cap shenanigans, and I’m still bitter about Vegas knocking the Avs out.
Steph: Oh, give me the meteor. I do not care. I’m just glad with the Avs out we don’t have to take this winner seriously. Asterisk!!!!!
Jackie: Vegas is sort of my second team, though I told them we were on a break for 2021, so I wouldn’t mind seeing them win. I know their arrogance bothers many but it’s nice to see a successful non-California western franchise start from nothing and create such an identity. Plus, I guess it is a little soothing to know you got beat by the team of destiny who won it all.
Earl: I’m fine with the Habs or my childhood fave Islanders. Vegas or Tampa would make me sick.
Who will earn the Conn Smythe Trophy?
Vlad: As much as I’d like to give that distinction to the NHL Department of Player Safety, I’m going with Mark Stone. I briefly considered Marc-Andre Fleury, but if they award anything to Vegas, this will likely be it regardless of whether Vegas wins the Cup or not.
Steph: Head of NHL officiating Stephen Walkom. Without his very clear direction that there shall be no penalties, the NHL postseason would be a very different landscape across the board. So, the question says who will “earn” the Conn, not who will win it, which is interesting. That will be Varly if the Isles make it past Tampa. A dark horse here is William Karlsson who has a whole bunch of even strength points and more than 60% xGF at 5 on 5, with about 2 ½ expected goals for per hour. Nikita Kucherov has dined out on the power play; he has 18 points and 13 of them are with the man advantage. Do you credit those for taking advantage of your opportunities? Do you discount them for being not at even strength? Will he disappear if (when) the penalties dry up? My eyes would be on Karlsson if this award made any sense.
(But it doesn’t. They’ll probably give it to the captain or goalie of the winning team, or sort the stats page by points, because they can’t default to Sidney Crosby, and they are boring.)
Jackie: Nikita Kucherov already has such an enormous points lead on anyone still playing that if the Lightning make the Finals he’s going to be in consideration win or lose. And given the cap, uh, massaging Tampa did this year to get him on LTIR all regular season would sure be a finger to anyone (everyone) that’s complained about it. The league loves its drama. If Vegas takes it as predicted I could see Max Pacioretty lead the scoring for the Golden Knights despite missing some of the first round.
Earl: Do you guys think Corey Perry can beat out Carey Price?