Every year, as NHL experts and fans put together their playoff predictions, they tend to think about a common factor.
It has nothing to do with goals scored, points posted or which goalies can put together the most shutouts.
That factor is experience.
Those of us in the business of making playoff predictions often point to experience because we think it can help determine the outcome of a series.
In our minds, it can seem obvious that the team who has the most players who have been to the playoffs time and time again will make the deepest postseason run.
However, the Stanley Cup playoffs are not always predictable. Just like regular season champions seldom take home the Cup, the team with the most veterans is not guaranteed the trophy, either.
We're going to take a look back at the last five Stanley Cup Finals matchups and break down the experience on each team. We'll also look at the Conn Smythe winner from each championship matchup. From there, we'll draw conclusions on how much experience mattered in the Finals series.
At the end, we'll look at how much experience is counting so far in the 2011 playoffs.
Enjoy the read, and regardless of whether you agree, please leave your thoughts on how much experience matters in the comments.
Alison Myers is an NHL and Pittsburgh Penguins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You may e-mail her at Alison.Myers@mail.com with questions, comments or other writing opportunities.