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Stanley Cup Finals 2013: Predicting Eastern and Western Conference Championships

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 26:  (L-R) Mike Bolt and Phil Pritchard, Keepers of the Stanley Cup, carry the trophy as it is presented at the Ottawa Convention Centre as part of NHL All Star weekend on January 26, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2013

The 2013 Stanley Cup Finals are guaranteed to be amazing this year because of the caliber of talent in the Eastern and Western Conference Championships.

With the NHL powerhouses of the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks still alive and searching for another title, these are going to be vicious battles for the right to advance.

If you love hockey and the entire NHL postseason, the conference championships and the Stanley Cup Finals are going to be the icing on the playoff cake. Don’t miss a second of this wild action.

 

Bruins Will Put the Freeze on Penguins

When the Pittsburgh Penguins square off against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals, the battle will be the ultimate embodiment of the unstoppable force (Pittsburgh’s offense) meeting the immovable object (Boston’s defense).

The Penguins are dangerous in the offensive end because of the immense skill on the roster, and because of their use of three scoring lines, they can do serious damage to even the strongest defensive effort.

With six players having 10 or more points this postseason, Pittsburgh will be tough to stop.

As great as the Penguins are in the offensive zone, the Bruins are just as skilled in the defensive zone.

Led by elite defender Zdeno Chara and a unit consisting of an eclectic mix of rookies and veterans, Boston has helped protect goalie Tuukka Rask and his 2.22 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.

These teams are built to beat each other, and this matchup could rival the actual Stanley Cup Finals as the best series of the 2013 postseason. As good as Pittsburgh is offensively, though, it will be the hard-nosed defensive style of the Bruins that wins the series.

Predicted Series Winner: Boston 4, Pittsburgh 3

 

The Kings’ Dynasty Ends Blackhawks' Dream Season

The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks earned their way to the Western Conference Finals by each winning a Game 7 in the semifinals, but now these powerhouses will be forced to go head to head.

Both teams understand the pressure that comes with the conference and Stanley Cup Finals—Los Angeles won the title in 2012 and Chicago won in 2010—so they are as evenly matched off the ice as a hockey fan could ever imagine.

With these teams so competitive, the skill of the players will be this series’ deciding factor.

The key to a Kings series victory will be the stellar play of the defensive unit led by Drew Doughty and how well the team protects 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner and star goalie Jonathan Quick.

Quick has been amazing this postseason, posting eight wins, a goals-against average of 1.50, a .948 save percentage and three shutouts. If Chicago is going to beat LA, the team is going to have to find its offensive rhythm.

After falling to Detroit 3-1 in their previous series, the Blackhawks finally found their missing scoring touch and went on to win the final three games to advance to the conference finals.

They succeeded by using scoring from every line and defensive pairing, but Chicago must find more consistency and use the offensive momentum gained against the Red Wings if the team wants to be able to solve the defensive riddle of the Kings.

This will be an all-out war out West, but the defensive prowess of Los Angeles will force the Blackhawks' top goal scorers into an early hibernation and the Kings will win the series.

Predicted Series Winner: Los Angeles 4, Chicago 3

 

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