NHL Stanley Cup Conference Finals Predictions

MJ LithgowContributor IMay 5, 2008

Gee whiz, where to start!

The second round playoff winners were relatively convincing winners—none of the four series went the journey.

The Red Wings steamrolled the poor old Avs, and the Stars clinched their series in the wee hours of the morning.  The Penguins marched past the Rangers, and Philadelphia flew past the top-seeded Canadiens.

In a reversal of fortune, I picked two out of two in the west, but zero out of two for the east.  Mind you, I picked the Rangers as an upset.

But I'm much more proud of a different 'prediction' I made.

Shortly after I posted my second round predictions, I received a comment regarding the Detroit-Colorado series.

After stating that the Red Wings were the benchmark team all season, and that they swept Colorado in the regular season series, the commenter mentioned that the Avs have bolstered their roster since then.  They would be a bigger threat. 

But I replied by saying Detroit has a lot of underrated depth players and used none other than Johan Franzen as an example. He scored nine times in four games in the series.

Not bad eh?

Anyways, back to business, here's some number crunching for the conference finals:

2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 6. Philadelphia Flyers

The battle of Pennsylvania should be a ripper. Philadelphia took the honors in the regular season series, winning the first four between the teams, and the final game.  If my memory serves correct, it cost Pittsburgh the chance to win the Eastern Conference.

The series was dominated by the home team seven games to one with the Flyers winning in Pittsburgh in their first game of the season series, 3-1.

It was a high scoring series—53 goals no less. That's an average of 3.3 goals each per game. There were some close games.  Each time registered a 4-3 victory against the other, and there were some blowouts.

The Flyers won 8-2 in one game, and then three duels later, the Penguins won 7-1.

The main culprits were R.J. Umberger and Evgeni Malkin, who scored six goals each.  Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul had five, while Petr Sykora netted four times.

In terms of playoff numbers, Pittsburgh's leading scorers are Sidney Crosby (2G, 12A), Malkin (6G, 8A, 4PPG), and Marian Hossa (5G, 5A).  All have played nine games.

Philadelphia's leading scorers are Daniel Briere (8G, 6A, 5PPG), Vaclav Prospal (3G, 9A), Mike Richards (4G, 7A), and Umberger (9G, 2A).  They have played 12 games.

The battle in net will be between Marc-Andre Fleury (8-1, 1.76 GAA, .938SV%, 2SO) and Martin Biron (8-4, 2.72 GAA, .914SV%, 1SO). The numbers are skewed in favor of Fleury, but Biron has made big saves at crucial times.

Both teams have been potent on the power play, but Pittsburgh has a much better penalty kill in the playoffs, 89.5 percent to 77.2 percent.

The numbers are in favor of Pittsburgh, but Philadelphia is high on belief after eliminating the No. 1 seed Montreal. My prediction is lots of goals, and Pittsburgh to win it in six games.


1. Detroit Red Wings vs. 5. Dallas Stars

These two teams’ paths here were quite different. Detroit strolled past Colorado in a sweep.  Dallas was taken to six games, including the marathon fourth-overtime game six against San Jose.

The regular season series didn't feature as much goal scoring as the eastern finalists.  It was just 17 goals between them in the four games (about two goals each per game average).

The Red Wings took the series 3-1.  The Stars' only win was a 1-0 shutout victory from Marty Turco. The series saw just three multiple goal scorers—all Detroit players, Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk had three, and Dan Cleary had two.

In fact, Dallas only scored five goals in the series.

So far in the playoffs, Detroit's leading scorers are Franzen (11G, 3A, 4PPG, 2SHG, 4GWG), Datsyuk (5G, 8A, (also has 0PIM)), and Henrik Zetterberg (7G, 6A, +10).  They have played 10 games. 

For Dallas, it’s Mike Ribiero (3G, 11A, 9PPA), Brad Richards (2G, 9A), and Brendan Morrow (7G, 4A, 4PPG, 4GWG including the fourth-overtime period winner in game six against San Jose). They have played 12 games.

Between the pipes, it will be Chris Osgood (6-0, 1.52 GAA, .937SV%, 1SO) and Marty Turco (8-4, 1.73GAA, .929SV%, 1SO).

The teams have identical penalty kill—both at 85.7 percent.  Dallas has had the advantage with the power play of 25 percent to Detroit's 20.4 percent.

The numbers are relatively even, but I have to go with the Red Wings for two reasons.  The first reason is that they are Detroit, and the second reason is that they have come off a 4-0 sweep of Colorado. 

Dallas was taken to a long six game series with San Jose, and I think it's going to catch up with them. Detroit to win in six games.



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