Vancouver Canucks Vs. Washington Capitals for the Stanley Cup

PratContributor IApril 12, 2010

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 09:  The Stanley Cup on display in the Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 9, 2009 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The last time I did this was a couple years ago. I drew the tables, did the math, and picked Philadelphia to win the Stanley Cup over Detroit. Instead, Pittsburgh ruined my party and took down the Flyers and then got beaten up by Detroit in the finals. So now, just like last time, I'm going to brazenly predict every series and every round's outcome and come up with a team, that many will probably disagree with, but that I think has what it takes to capture Lord Stanley's Cup.

Last time, I got two predictions wrong. Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh, and Detroit vs. Philadelphia. This time, it's in writing. You make the call.

Eastern Conference

1st round:

[1] Washington Capitals vs. [8] Montreal Canadiens

Does anyone out there seriously think Montreal stands a chance? They're overmatched in almost every way except goaltending, but if you've been watching the Caps play all season, you'll realize goaltending is not an issue. Washington has an embarrassment of offensive riches (Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Green, etc.) and their depth is unmatched. Barring a complete meltdown of the Caps and/or Halak turning into a hockey god overnight, this series belongs to the Caps. Washington in 5.

[2] New Jersey Devils vs. [7] Philadelphia Flyers

I can't see New Jersey losing this one. The Flyers barely sneaked in, and they've been playing some terrible hockey as of late. Their offensive guns are doing nothing to help a stingy D and some inconsistent goaltending. That won't work against Brodeur. New Jersey in 6.

[3] Buffalo Sabres vs. [6] Boston Bruins

Ok, so here's my first upset pick. You're all going to crush me on this one, saying the Sabres have Miller and they're one of the best teams in the league this season, but I think Boston has what it takes. Winning 6 of 10 coming into the playoffs, the Bruins have been one of the hotter teams in the East. I say they carry the momentum into the playoffs and take down a tough Buffalo squad. Bruins in 7.

[4] Pittsburgh Penguins vs. [5] Ottawa Senators

Pittsburgh has too many weapons, and with Fleury holding the fort, they'll be looking for a quick series. Ottawa is a strong team, don't get me wrong, but the Penguins have everything they need for another Cup run. Having Malkin return isn't going to hurt their chances either. Even Crosby ended the season snatching up 5 points in the last game. Pittsburgh in 4.

2nd Round:

[1] Washington Capitals vs. [6] Boston Bruins

Again, I'm giving the Caps an edge. Their offense is going to be too much to handle for Rask, although I do think this series will go the distance. Boston's record against the Caps suggest this series should be a no-brainer (Caps lead it 3-1), but I'm thinking their most recent meeting (a 4-3 SO win for Boston) is a better indicator of where both these teams stand. Take Washington in 7.

[2] New Jersey Devils vs. [4] Pittsburgh Penguins

To be honest, this looks like quite the wild series. I'm going to say that New Jersey comes out on top, seeing as they've absolutely owned the Pens this year. What are they, 6-0 against them? Yeah, Devils in 5.

Conference Finals:

[1] Washington Capitals vs. [2] New Jersey Devils

This is the Caps year to come out of the East. The Devils are a good team, what with an amazing goalie, good defense and 5 top 6 forwards up front, but this year, it's hard to see how the Caps will falter. One thing I haven't talked about yet, is Ilya Kovalchuk. Look for Kovy to be a big reason why the Devils make it this far. This is his chance to show the hockey world how valuable a player he can be, and he'll be motivated. Still, the Caps are looking at nothing but Stanley as the outcome, and they've got a lot of firepower. Washington in 6.

Western Conference

1st Round:

[1] San Jose Sharks vs. [8] Colorado Avalanche

Oh, here we are again, San Jose showing us all how terrific a team they are. Adding Heatley should give them their cup right? I mean, Nabakov is playing amazing, and they seem to be back on track with 8 wins in their last 10. I have a feeling San Jose will have difficulty with the surprise Avalanche. It's the experienced Sharks (who seem to always disappoint) playing the inexperienced but eager Avs. San Jose in 7.

[2] Chicago Blackhawks vs. [7] Nashville Predators

The Blackhawks strike me as the Capitals of the West. A young and stacked team that wants to prove to everyone they're ready to be the best. Of course, having Toews, Kane, Keith and Sharp isn't enough! No, they also had to grab Hossa, a guy who's had his fair share of Stanley Cup disappointments in recent memory. I think Marian Hossa will be more of a presence, and Chicago's goaltending will have to be decent, not good, not great, for them to move on. The Preds are a strong side, but not strong enough. Blackhawks in 4.

[3] Vancouver Canucks vs. [6] Los Angeles Kings

The Canucks hold the season series lead at 3-1, but lost badly last time these teams met. That being said, they are more experienced, and they have a better team (as flat out statistics dictate). With the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Samuelsson and Raymond going, this team's offense is nothing to fret over. They're also hoping their defensive core can stay healthy throughout the post-season, and that maybe Luongo can get it together early on. I'm not taking anything away from the Kings' young players, but I'm sorry Doughty, Brown and Kopitar, it's not your time just yet. Canucks in 6.

[4] Phoenix Coyotes vs. [5] Detroit Red Wings

Every single person who's been watching hockey for the past couple months will tell you, there is nothing stopping Detroit. I say no, there is something stopping them, and that's the young team that came out of nowhere to be a serious conference contender. Both these teams are well coached, but the desert dogs have a great goalie, and Howard's still a question mark. Phoenix has also been garnering attention as an all-round team, getting a decent amount of secondary scoring. I say their defense holds it together, and Bryzgalov is brilliant. Phoenix in 6.

2nd Round:

[1] San Jose Sharks vs. [4] Phoenix Coyotes

This is where I step back and say I have no clue what's going to happen. It all depends on whether the Sharks run out of gas or not. I say they don't. With a good goaltender and that kind of offense, I have a feeling they'll break Bryzgalov and the Yotes. San Jose is also a deeper team, and that, this year, will pay off come the 2nd round. They'll find their fins soon enough. Sharks in 5.

[2] Chicago Blackhawks vs. [3] Vancouver Canucks

As a Canucks fan, I'd be scared (and rightly so) going up against a Chicago team this stacked a couple years ago. True, the Blackhawks are more experienced, and their players are developing, but Vancouver's got the offense to match them, and they've got the advantage in net. Luongo was spectacular before his game 6 meltdown in Chicago a year ago, and I don't see anything to suggest differently. As long as the Canucks D can hold it together, they can take this young Blackhawk team. Vancouver in 7.

Conference Finals:

[1] San Jose Sharks vs. [3] Vancouver Canucks

San Jose beat up on a Canucks team 4-2 last time I cared to watch a game between these two, and I must say... how did we not get blown out of the water? The Canucks were playing with Raycroft, and a defense highlighted by O'Brien and Oberg. Give me a break, it was easy to see how the Sharks were all over a broken team. The Canucks, being healthier and riding some good goaltending and the stellar play of the Sedins will have an easier time with the Sharks. Vancouver in 6.

Stanley Cup Final

[1] Washington Capitals vs. [3] Vancouver Canucks

As a Canucks fan and a believer of the fact that the West is much stronger than the East, you'd think I'd say Vancouver to win it all, and win it all spectacularly (in, let's say, 4 or 5 games?). But no, this Caps team is more dangerous than the Canucks on their best night. Neither of these teams have amazing defense, but at least Vancouver has Luongo. The team that wins this series will need to play (I've said this before) the puck-possession type game we've all gotten so used to seeing the Red Wings play.

Vancouver and Washington both possess the depth it takes to win the Stanley Cup. I'm going to go on a leap of faith (which is funny) here and say that this year belongs to Vancouver. 40 years and no cup, but this year's team is as good as it gets. You have the Art Ross Trophy winner along with his brother who are averaging a ridiculous amount of points per game. You have Kesler, a Selke nominee who has had another career season. Luongo, probably the best goalie to dress up for Vancouver since.. before I started watching hockey (2004), and of course, you have a whole city that expects nothing less than the Stanley Cup.

Time for Vancouver to either cave in to the pressure (again) or come out on top. Ovechkin and the Caps are insane, but I say the West has it this year, with a team that's just waiting to hit the ice and win it all. Canucks in 7 for the Cup.