The 2013 NHL season may have been short, but the grind was great and practices few because of its condensed nature. Now that is has come to an end, the real season begins.
Here the NHL will be business as usual, making this Stanley Cup more legitimate than the one handed to the Dallas Stars after a full season in 1999. Seeding may have been corrupted by a short season, and a few teams had more substantial travel than others, but we have seen those things mean little recently.
Teams that could not make it into the playoffs with fewer games can hardly claim they would have been able to win 16 even bigger playoff games. The series in both conferences feature matchups of teams capable of beating anyone in the NHL, and both have four legitimate contenders.
For what it is worth—and that is little at all because I can admit I do not see a lot of Eastern Conference games (if only the media with its East Coast bias could do that)—I do see the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Prince of Wales Trophy. They are experienced, deep and have the best forwards in the NHL.
This is how I see the Western Conference playing out right through the Stanley Cup finals.