Now it’s on to the grand finale: The Stanley Cup Final.
Who will take the Cup* in this truncated season?
Greg Wyshynski, Editor
FINAL: New York Rangers vs. St. Louis Blues
The Rangers are the deepest team in the NHL, from the crease to the top line. Adding Rick Nash gets the headlines, but it’s the backbone of this team – Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonough and Henrik Lundqvist – that gets them to the Final.
The Blues have been building to this for years, and in Ken Hitchcock finally have the right coach to manage that talent. Hopefully last season’s playoff disappointment was the learning experience it should have been.
The Rangers will win the Cup. Which, again, as a Devils fan, will lead to some incredible conversations with my New York brethren about the virtues of winning a Cup in a shortened season. #Asterisk
Sean Leahy, Associate Editor
FINAL: New York Rangers vs. St. Louis Blues
Maybe the meeting many expected a year ago, but the Rangers have built themselves into Cup contenders and the adding of Rick Nash has made them the favorite. They say you have to learn to lose before you can win and there may not have been a more bitter tasting defeat than what New York suffered last season losing on an overtime goal in Game 6 to their rivals in New Jersey. They'll get another shot this season and finish the job against a St. Louis team that will take last year's re-birth and make sure that it wasn't a flash in the pan.
Harrison Mooney, Associate Editor
FINAL: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings
The LA Kings, again. In what will almost certainly draw accusations of conspiracy, the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers will meet in the Stanley Cup Final, but the Kings will take it. This team found another gear last postseason, but I still think they can find another one. They had some young players last year that can only have benefited from the experience, and it should be enough for LA to best even the improvements of teams like New York. They'll also benefit from coming out of the weaker division, which is something that's usually said about the team from the East, but I think the balance of power has shifted fairly drastically over the past few seasons.
Dmitry Chesnokov, Senior Writer
FINAL: Washington Capitals vs. Los Angeles Kings
The fact that the Capitals’ two best players have played together – quite successfully – this season already should be a big advantage. The move away from the Dale Hunter hockey that gave a lot of fans in DC a false pretense of “playoff hockey” may be the last chance for Ovechkin to reignite his game under a more positive coach. If it happens and we see at least a half of what Ovechkin was a few seasons ago, the Capitals may have what it takes to finally go where they haven’t been in 15 years.
I have had a soft spot for the Kings for a few years. The balance of skill and power coupled with youth and now the ultimate winning experience under their belts make them, in my opinion, the most balanced, consistent and dangerous team in the West.
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WINNER: Kings. Again, this team has been together for some time now. They have the experience of winning the Cup. This is a short season, and the Kings have what it takes to have a deep run because they can be very consistent playing physical, but at the same time very creative and fun hockey.
Ryan Lambert, Columnist
FINAL: New York Rangers vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Gimme the Rangers over the Blackhawks. I have a real hard time picking against that offense, defense and goaltending, let alone coaching. I think the Rangers have been the best team in the NHL for the last two seasons and they added Rick Nash. Doesn't seem very fair to me.
Darryl “Dobber” Dobbs, Fantasy Writer
FINAL: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. St. Louis Blues
St. Louis will face Pittsburgh in the Final. Defense versus offense. With the future trend in coaching on the line (and us fantasy owners pray that "offense" wins so that more teams will run-and-gun).
WINNER: Penguins win the Cup. They won't make the same Marc-Andre Fleury mistakes that they did last year.
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