2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Game-by-Game Conference Final Predictions
The last four Stanley Cup champions make up the final four teams remaining in the 2013 NHL Playoffs.
The top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins will face the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final for the Prince of Wales Trophy. Meanwhile, the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks and fifth-seeded Los Angeles Kings will battle for the Clarence Campbell Bowl in the Western Conference Final.
The winners of each series will represent their respective conferences in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
The third round is always a total tossup. Last year, we saw a sixth seed and an eighth seed pull off upsets and reach the Stanley Cup Final.
What will happen this year? Find out right here.
Eastern Conference Final Game 1: Boston at Pittsburgh
This series will get gritty right off the bat as it features two teams that really don't like each other.
This will be the first playoff game between Boston and Pittsburgh in over two decades, and it will be a good one indeed.
Pittsburgh's offense comes flying out of the gates right away, but Tuukka Rask is there to answer. After all, all he did in the last round was out-duel Henrik Lundqvist.
Then again, Pittsburgh's offense is a little bit more explosive than the Rangers, and the Penguins should be able to defeat the Bruins for the fourth straight game this season.
Prediction: Boston 2 Pittsburgh 4
Western Conference Final Game 1: Los Angeles at Chicago
The Kings have had trouble on the road all postseason (1-5-0 after two rounds) but played excellent on the road during last year's Stanley Cup run.
Chicago has just come off of an emotional Game 7 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, and will be ready to rock the Madhouse yet again on Saturday. Jonathan Quick will be very tough to score on, but Chicago will finally get some production from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
The Blackhawks ride home ice to victory in Game 1.
Prediction: Los Angeles 1 Chicago 3
Eastern Conference Final Game 2: Boston at Pittsburgh
After feeling out their opponent in Game 1, Boston plays better hockey in Game 2. The defense plays a lot tighter, Tuukka Rask stops a huge amount of Pittsburgh shots and the defense gets going.
Pittsburgh still puts up a fight, but the Bruins finally find a way to beat the Penguins and tie the series up heading back home to Boston.
Prediction: Boston 3 Pittsburgh 2
Western Conference Final Game 2: Los Angeles at Chicago
Knowing a 2-0 series deficit against Chicago would be detrimental, the Kings come out of the gates determined in Game 2.
The Blackhawks take an early lead against Jonathan Quick, but he steps up his game and provides the Kings with chances to score.
Los Angeles gets a goal in the second period, and three more in the third (including an empty netter) to put away the Hawks and come back to Staples Center with the series tied.
Prediction: Los Angeles 4 Chicago 2
Eastern Conference Final Game 3: Pittsburgh at Boston
Home ice advantage will be a key factor for the Bruins in this series. When the Penguins are rattled, they can get frustrated, especially Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
When Claude Julien sees one of those two on the ice, he can use the last change to put out a guy like Brad Marchand or Milan Lucic, who will without a doubt get under their skin.
The Bruins are able to put on an offensive show against Tomas Vokoun and ride home ice to a series lead.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 2 Boston 5
Western Conference Final Game 3: Chicago at Los Angeles
The Kings have not lost yet at the Staples Center this postseason, winning three games at home against the St. Louis Blues and four against the San Jose Sharks.
Playing in this building will be a huge task for the Blackhawks to overcome, but if any team can defy the odds, it's Chicago.
Jonathan Quick stands in the Blackhawks' way, stopping shot after shot while the Kings find a way to score one more on Corey Crawford than the Hawks can get on Quick.
Prediction: Chicago 1 Los Angeles 2
Eastern Conference Final Game 4: Pittsburgh at Boston
This will be an extremely vicious game, as the teams will have developed some more bad blood by this point.
Pittsburgh cannot afford to go down 3-1 in the series, but Boston would like to avoid a 2-2 series deficit going back to Pittsburgh for Game 5.
The Penguins will throw everything than can at Tuukka Rask, and he will need to be spectacular in order to help his team gain a 3-1 series lead.
The Bruins find ways to break through Pittsburgh's defense again and score on Tomas Vokoun. Rask isn't perfect but he is good enough to give the Bruins another win.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 3 Boston 4
Western Conference Final Game 4: Chicago at Los Angeles
Like the Bruins, the Kings will have a chance to take a huge 3-1 lead on the Blackhawks. At this point, the Kings will have a 8-0 home record in the playoffs and the Blackhawks will surely be intimidated by the Staples Center crowd.
Chicago weathers the storm in the first two periods, but it is still an incredibly tight game going into the third.
Los Angeles takes a one-goal lead in the third period, but the Blackhawks get two more to tie it and win it.
Prediction: Chicago 3 Los Angeles 2
Eastern Conference Final Game 5: Boston at Pittsburgh
The Penguins hardly ever lose a Game 5 at home, and the Consol Energy Center will be rocking in one of the biggest home games of the playoffs for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins do not disappoint their fans, scoring two goals in the first period and hanging on the rest of the game. Pittsburgh's offense leads them to force a Game 6 in Boston and gives them the confidence that they need after three straight losses.
Prediction: Boston 1 Pittsburgh 5
Western Conference Final Game 5: Los Angeles at Chicago
Game 5 will be a thriller.
Los Angeles will strike first, but the Blackhawks get goals in the second and third periods to take a 2-1 lead.
Corey Crawford is stellar all night for the Blackhawks until the Kings pull Jonathan Quick. With the extra attacker, Los Angeles scores to knot the game at two goals apiece and send the series to its first overtime.
There is no scoring in the first overtime as Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick take center stage yet again in this low-scoring series.
In the second overtime, Trevor Lewis becomes the hero for the Kings scoring the winning goal and giving the Kings a chance to close out the series on home ice.
Prediction: Los Angeles 3 Chicago 2 (2OT)
Eastern Conference Final Game 6: Pittsburgh at Boston
The Bruins have an opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons with a win on home ice. If they lose, the series will shift back to the Steel City for a winner-take-all Game 7.
The two black and gold teams combine for a game of physical hockey, but 60 minutes will not be enough to decide this gritty thriller.
Early into the first overtime, Pascal Dupuis sends one past Tuukka Rask, winning the game for the Penguins and sending the series back to Pittsburgh for a Game 7.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 4 Boston 3 (OT)
Western Conference Final Game 6: Chicago at Los Angeles
Not wanting to lose a second consecutive home game, the Kings take to the ice hitting harder than they have been all series in front of their home fans.
Plenty of scrums take place after whistles, mostly precipitated by Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell of Chicago.
This is yet another low-scoring game, but Jonathan Quick is all the Kings need to get them over the hump and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive year.
Prediction: Chicago 1 Los Angeles 3
Eastern Conference Final Game 7: Boston at Pittsburgh
Both of these teams are no strangers to Game 7's, but they have had different histories involving them.
Pittsburgh has had all sorts of trouble, getting whitewashed by the eighth-seeded Canadiens in 2010 and coming up with no offense in a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay in 2011.
Boston has usually been pretty good in Game 7's other than last year's first round overtime loss to Washington.
Pittsburgh has a lot of confidence after winning two in a row to keep its season alive, but Boston has the advantage in goal.
Both teams have a huge amount of experience, as the Penguins brought in Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow while Boston still has almost the exact team that won the Stanley Cup in 2011 still intact.
The Bruins' rookie defensemen could hurt them, but they have played extremely well in these playoffs and Tuukka Rask is there to back them up if they falter.
Boston takes a very close game and advances to the Stanley Cup Final to face the Los Angeles Kings.
Prediction: Boston 3 Pittsburgh 2