The 2013 NHL season is drawing to an end, and two of our staffers predict that the Eastern Conference will dominate in the Stanley Cup finals.
Statistically speaking, the Pittsburgh Penguins will win the Stanley Cup. The odds are in Pittsburgh’s favor, with CBS Sports reporting there is a 7-to-2 chance of the Penguins hoisting the cup for a fourth time. Although professional sports have long proven that one play, a traumatic injury, or a referee’s shaky call can completely invalidate a statistical prediction; the Penguins are prepared to “wow” critics with an impressive playoff run.
The Penguins are constantly plagued with injuries, but the team adapts by stacking the roster with capable players. Pittsburgh has the unique ability to score with any combination of players on the ice. Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, and Pascal DuPuis all lead both the team and the league offensively. Defensively speaking, Kris Letang
The only fatal flaw the Penguins face this postseason is in the goal. Marc-Andre Fleury and his butterfly technique of goaltending often dominate in the regular season; however, he tends to cool down by playoff time. While Fleury has proved to be inconsistent and unpredictable, when he does perform, he becomes the strongest player on the ice. A large part of Pittsburgh’s fate lies on Fleury’s shoulders. If he is unable to perform, backup Tomas Vokoun is more capable of posting stats than the majority of other goalies.
With a stacked roster, strong playoff experience, and a true motivation to win, the Penguins are easily going to take their fourth Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh will likely face Western Conference favorite, Chicago. The well-rounded Blackhawks could prove to be tough competition for the Penguins, however, Pittsburgh’s offensive line will easily dominate over Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
~Abby Seitz, online/associate editor
With veteran leadership, stern defense, and a roster that is willing to get dirty to win, I predict the Boston Bruins will win their second Stanley Cup championship in three years. Under the calm leadership of center Patrice Bergeron, defenseman Zdeno Chara, and head coach Claude Julien, the Bruins perform extremely well under the pressure of the postseason.
The Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins are the two most well-rounded teams in hockey. The offensive edge would be Pittsburgh, but defensively few teams are better than the Bruins. Moreover the Bruins offense is not one to be trifled with, thanks to a major offensive upgrade mid-way through the season by trading for forward Jaromir Jagr. He leads all current players in career postseason scoring, and plays on the same line as the Bruins’ overall points leader, Brad Marchand.
The Bruins are the most experienced team in the playoffs right now, and they have done it before (for the most part). A whopping 18 players from the Bruins 2010-2011 championship winning club remain on the roster. Along with NHL veteran additions, such as Jagr and defenseman Wade Redden, the Bruins boast an entire roster that has faced postseason play at some point.
The Bruins are currently the third favorite team to win the cup according to Vegas online sportsbooks, with odds of 17/2. I predict that they will defeat the statistically favored Penguins because of their defensive advantage and consistent goaltending. The Bruins will play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals, winning in six games.
~Josh Henry, design editor