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Well here we go the final four, New York versus New Jersey and Los Angeles versus Phoenix. Who will win their Conference finals and go on to battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup? One thing is for sure it might not be necessarily who you think it should be. The thing that especially holds true in this year’s playoffs is unpredictability. If you had told me that the Coyotes were going to make this year’s final four I would have given you one of those looks or simply chuckled out loud, but here they are. The same can be said for the Devils for that matter and what about the Kings? I knew they were built for a descent run but who truly believed that they would only have one loss at this stage of the game. I guess the only team that seems to belong here are the Rangers but it did take them twice as long as it should have.
So who will it be? I will try to answer that question as best as I can but keep in mind that so far my picks have been 50/50, I called 4 out 8 in round one and 2 out 4 in round 2. So if this pattern holds true I will get one of the finals right and the other will be wrong, it’s up to you to decide which one.
RANGERS VS DEVILS
Arguably, two of the best goalies in the East will faceoff in this series. Martin Brodeur versus Henrik Lundquist. In Brodeur the Devils have one of the most experience goaltenders in the league who also happens to be a proven winner. The biggest question mark with him, is will his age catch up to him? King Henrik on the other hand is in the prime of his career and there is no reason to believe that the Rangers will not be able to continue relying on him. This will probably be what ultimately decides this series as both teams play a solid game with all of their lines involved. Both have a good blend of players with a few start player’s that can light the lamp when need be. For the most part they are very evenly matched and it is hard to imagine this series not going the distance. Again this series will be decided in nets and I believe that this will be the series where Marty runs out of gas and the King will emerge as one of the elite playoff goalies of today’s NHL.
Prediction: Rangers in seven
COYOTES VS KINGS
So Phoenix has risen up from the ashes and they have made it to the final four. They have also made me look bad in the process as I had predicted that they would not make it past the first round when they took on the Blackhawks. Well they proved me wrong then and they also proved me wrong in round two when the put out the Predators. Why would I change the pattern now? If the Coyotes are going to make it to the finals they are going to have to prove me wrong one more time as I don’t see them beating the Kings. LA has been by far the most impressive team in this year’s playoffs and they have done it as an eight seeded team. Not only did they stun Vancouver in round one but they also stunned the hockey world when they took out the Blues in four games for the only sweep so far this year. This is a team who is built to win and they are backed up by one of the most impressive goaltenders I have seen it quite some time (no offense to Price). In a playoff filled with a ton of great goaltending, Quick has managed to steal the spotlight from some very strong competition. The interesting thing about the Kings is that on top of being well coached and having a well-balanced line-up, they play the game with a certain nastiness that is needed this time of year. This may be the deciding factor in this series, Phoenix is also well coached and their line-up is also well balanced but with the exception of the Torres hit in round one they don’t play with the same kind of edge as the Kings do. Smith will probably steal them a couple of games to make it interesting but he will not outduel Quick. As long as the kings don’t take them lightly they should easily beat the Coyotes and make it to the Cup finals.
Prediction: Kings in six