2016 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Hockey Pool Champ foresees Capital Victory

Predictions by Ron Renning (Winner of our Regular Season Hockey Pool)

Ron Renning knows hockey. He proved it in February when he won the Molson Canadian Anything for Hockey contest, and he proved it again last week when he won our regular season hockey pool. Therefore, as we met with Ron this week to award him his first-prize big-screen TV (graciously donated by Biliztik Sports), we couldn’t resist asking him one simple question: “What’s your Stanley Cup Final Prediction?”

The answer: Washington Capitals over the Anaheim Ducks.

Kings deny Capitals

Predictions by Scott McCutcheon (Manager, Dunny’s Source for Sports)

Dunny’s is your Source for Sports in St. Marys, and manager Scott McCutcheon very nearly won our regular season hockey pool this year. Scott foresees the following for the 2016 playoffs:

The Washington Capitals may have won the President’s Trophy for the most points in the regular season, but I don’t see their playoff run being easy. They will be pushed to the limit by the Philadelphia Flyers but will escape the seven game battle. Ovechkin will then lead the Caps over the Rangers in round two, before they are again pushed to a game 7 against the Roberto Luongo, Jaromir Jagr and the youthful Florida Panthers.

In the Western Conference, the most exciting series of the first round will result in a 6-game LA Kings victory over the Sharks, while shortest series will feature the Dallas Stars who dispose of the Wild in a 4-game sweep. The Kings and Stars will ultimately meet in a Conference Final that goes to the limit, but Jonathan Quick’s goaltending is the difference.

The 6-game Stanley Cup Final between the Kings and Capitals will result in Los Angeles engraving their names on Lord Stanley again this season.

Pittsburgh Wins the All-American Playoffs

Predictions by Frank Doyle (Editor-in-Chief, St. Marys Independent)

The happiest person in the NHL is of course Gary Bettman, who, with no Canadian teams playing, will probably want the cup re-named the American Cup. The unhappiest people are the management and shareholders at Rogers. As for the playoffs, will Ovechkin finally show up in a moment that counts? He’s an unbelievable goal scorer in the regular season but can he finally step up in the playoffs? Also, I think it’d be pretty funny to consider Jagr lifting the cup. Maybe the question is, “does Jaromir Jagr have enough old-man strength to lift the cup at 44?” Can James Reimer shake the blue-and-white disease off long enough to carry the Sharks deep in the playoffs? Can Anaheim or Pittsburgh overcome disastrous starts and ride momentum to playoff success? The answer to all of these questions is No, except for Pittsburgh, who I am picking to Trump the St. Louis Blues and Cruz to win the Stanley Cup in five games.

History Continues to Repeat with an LA Kings Win

Predictions by Stewart Grant (Owner, St. Marys Independent)

As I study this year’s playoff bracket, I can’t help but feel like we’ve been here before, and that so many of this year’s playoff stories will have a sense of déjà vu. In the first round, we’ll see the all-too-familiar playoff exits of St. Louis and San Jose. In the next round, heartache will again come to Capitals fans. Despite their record-setting season, they’ll fall in seven games to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. For Florida Panther fans, it’ll feel just like 1996 again as their quirky club makes a memorable run to the conference title. However, just like in 2014, the real Stanley Cup final takes place in the Hawks vs. Kings Western Conference series, with the winner of that battle (the Kings) rolling past the Panthers in the final in 5 games. One year after crowning the Blackhawks a dynasty for winning their 3rd Cup in 6 years, the Kings will do one better than that by winning their 3rd Cup in 5 years. Suddenly, hockey fans will be scratching their heads and wondering how is it possible to have two Dynasties at the same time. That’s something that we’ve never seen before.

Capitals Finally Hoist the Cup

Predictions by Spencer Seymour (Co-Op Sports Reporter, St. Marys Independent)

Just because all seven Canadian teams missed out of the post-season, fans in Canada still should be watching with great interest. Following a first-round exit versus Tampa, Detroit fans will give an emotional ovation and show of gratitude to the legendary Pavel Datsyuk who is retiring from the NHL after this season. Meanwhile in St. Louis, another first-round loss to Chicago will leave Blues fans in disappointment. If you want a team who you can get behind, then look no further than the Florida Panthers. Florida has that certain something about them that would make people in this country, who no longer have a horse in the race, jump on their bandwagon. Whether it’s the youth of the core group, or the nostalgia factor that comes with watching future Hall of Famers like Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo performing at such a high level, I think the Florida Panthers could become the darlings of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. However, not everyone can have a fairy tale ending, and, unfortunately, the Panthers won’t get theirs as they are ultimately overcome by the sheer dominance of the Capitals. So, we have the Caps in the finals, but who will they face? Well, I think the Stars, Blackhawks, Ducks and Kings will emerge from the first round in the West, and, from there, the Hawks playoff experience will carry them over the Stars. After defeating the Kings, I see the Ducks then getting their shot at redemption against the Hawks, and making good on that chance. Finally, the Ducks get back to the Stanley Cup finals. It is a sigh of relief for two fan bases who have been longing to get back to the finals before their stars exit their prime. However, in the end, the Capitals are simply too strong to be beaten, and will defeat the Ducks as Barry Trotz, Alex Ovechkin, and Washington, D.C. will finally get to hoist the Cup.

Powerhouse Capitals prove no match for rest of NHL

Predictions by Tyler Carruthers (Graphic Designer, Exeter Examiner)

Notably in the first round, the choke-artist Sharks will not make it any further as the Kings take it in 5 games, while in the East, Pittsburgh’s goaltending injuries will halt their quest for the Cup as they lose to the Rangers in six games. Meanwhile, the Lightning’s injuries will give Detroit a 7 game first round victory in Pavel Datsyuk’s potential last NHL season.

Dallas and Chicago will be a second round matchup for the books. Dallas’ lack of post-season experience will delay their quest for the Cup one more year as Chicago battles to another 7 game series win. Anaheim’s goaltending tandem will shut down LA in 6 games as the Kings will regroup for yet another run at it next year. In a repeat of last year’s second round between the Rangers and Capitals, I see Washington punching their ticket to the conference finals with a 6 game series win. Florida’s youthful offence is going to be tested come later rounds, but Detroit’s late season playoff push will fall short to the high energy Panthers in yet another 6 game series.

In a repeat of last year’s Western Conference Finals this time, I have it ending differently. Anaheim’s offence steam roll’s the Hawks in game 7 punching their first ticket to the Finals since their last Stanley Cup victory in ’06-07. Florida’s youth has pushed them far enough this year, as Washington’s historic year will send Florida packing in 5 games.

The last game of the regular season saw the Anaheim Ducks play the Washington Capitals, and who would have guessed that this may just be the last matchup of the post-season as well. In a final series that many analytic and insider experts predicted, it’s hard to doubt it. Holtby’s career year will win him the Conn Smythe trophy with a 6 game series victory over what looks to be the best goaltending tandem in the league. You heard it here first, Caps over the Ducks in 6.

Season of Change in the NHL as the Ducks Prevail

Predictions by Gus Eyers (Owner, The Stickhandler)

The Eastern Conference playoffs will feature the red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins eliminating the Rangers, before prevailing in a classic series against Ovie and Capitals in round 2.

It seems to me that Florida also has something going here, so after they beat the Islanders they will continue their magic by defeating the Red Wings. They will then beat the Pens in the East final and move on to the Cup Finals.

In the Western Conference, I see the Blues upsetting the defending Cup Champs, and there will once again be an early exit for the San Jose Sharks as LA will be too much.

Two great semi-finals series in the West both could or should go 7 Games, with Anaheim over the LA Kings and St. Louis over Dallas.

The Cup Finals will have the Anaheim Ducks vs. Florida Panthers, thus for the first time in the last 6 years, it won’t be the LA Kings, Chicago Blackhawks or Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup. The new Cup champion will be the Anaheim Ducks. Enjoy the NHL Playoffs; it should be a great ride!

Capitals Break Through

Predictions by Dan Rankin (Editor, St. Marys Independent & Exeter Examiner)

Speaking as someone who benefitted greatly from having Alexander Ovechkin and Braden Holtby on their team this season (2015-2016 St. Marys Dynasty Puck League champ!), I think this year’s Washington Capitals roster has what it takes to finally break through for their tortured fan base. Despite a string of Southeast Division titles and a 2009-2010 President’s Trophy, the Caps haven’t been to the Stanley Cup Final during the Great Eight’s tenure with the team. In fact, he hasn’t even led them to a Conference Final. The last time Washington was in the Stanley Cup Final was in 1998 when they were swept by Detroit. So, while they’ve racked up their first Metro Division crown and yet another President’s Trophy, I think this could be the year that Ovie finally adds a Stanley Cup title to his resume – and all it took was a Vezina-calbire season by Holtby. On the other hand, by my calculations some other long-suffering franchises, including St. Louis, Minnesota, Nashville and the New York Islanders will have to wait until next year, as I don’t think they’ll escape the first round. San Jose could top one of their Southern California rivals, but I don’t think they’ll beat both, as I have Anaheim advancing to the Stanley Cup with a Western Conference Final win over Dallas in six games. Back East, if Game One was any indicator, it seems like Pittsburgh will win the battle of the backups over the Rangers, but they’ll be hard-pressed to keep that luck alive versus the Caps. Roberto Luongo and Jaromir Jagr will put their old-man muscles on display, advancing to the Eastern Conference Final, but Florida will ultimately fall to their old Southeast Division rivals in seven. It’ll only be fitting for the Caps to bring the Stanley Cup home to Washington, D.C. this year – it sure doesn’t belong in Ottawa this year, or in any other Canadian city for that matter.

The Leafs win the Stanley Cup

Predictions by Don Corby (CEO, Biliztik Sports)

Ok maybe not, but a Leaf fan can dream, can’t he? It may be the only time I see it in print before I die. The good thing is I have an unbiased opinion due to the fact my team hasn’t made a decent run at things since “Candy Kisses” were the treat of choice on Halloween night. Alrighty folks, dust off those basement remotes because the Stanley Cup playoffs have begun and you have been relegated downstairs for the next few months. The beginning of the playoffs brings on a plethora of questions and this year is no different. Can Brian Elliott backstop the St. Louis Blues to a Stanley Cup championship? It helps now that one of their top point getters (Backes) is back and healthy. Will Joe Thornton finally lead the San Jose Sharks to the promised land and will the classy James Reimer play a part in that fate? Will the Washington Capitals have what it takes in the trenches to finally make it to the dance? Can the Kane’onator continue to produce at his regular season rate to help the Hawks repeat as Cup Champions or will Tampa Bay be spurred on by last year’s finals loss to come back and hoist the grail? Let’s not count out those pesky LA Kings. If you look at their fans playoff pool sheets they are filled from top to bottom with Kings. They are a devoted bunch. Whatever happens, it is usually the best hockey you will see with some great story lines. At the end of the day, I am predicting a San Jose and Washington final with Reimer taking a bite out of OV for the win. Keep your head up and your stick on the ice and most of all, “Go Biliztik or Go Home”

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