Penguins in 7
At the trade deadline, it had appeared as if the Bruins had added a big offensive piece when word came out they agreed to a trade with the Calgary Flames for Jarome Iginla. However, the deal fell apart as Iginla went to the Penguins instead. The Bruins meanwhile acquired Jaromir Jagr who two decades ago was a key part of two Stanley Cup Championships in Pittsburgh. The Bruins were unable to beat the Penguins in the regular season, but all three games were decided by one goal. One of those came at the end of the season, as the Bruins were left discombobulated from the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks. The Bruins come into the Conference Finals on fire, with all four lines contributing to the offense. Helping matters is Krug became the first rookie defenseman in the history of the NHL to score four goals in his first five playoff games. It’s hard to imagine that Krug will remain that hot, but with two way players like Patrice Begeron and defenseman Zdeno Chara this is going to be a long hard fought series. The Bruins tend to play seven game series, and this has seven games written all over it. The key for the Penguins is for Tomas Vokun to continue to play well in goal, because this series will be a high scoring affair and the Bruins can score with the Penguins, and Tuuka Rask and the Bruins defense can shut down good teams. However, in the end there are just too many weapons in Pittsburgh, with Sidney Crosby and James Neal both having big series as the Penguins with the home crowd win in seven games.
Kings in 6
The Blackhawks and Kings started the season, with the Kings raising a banner at Staples Center and the Blackhawks spoiled the part with a 5-2 win on the way to going unbeaten in their first 24 games. The two teams split the next two match-up with the Blackhawks scoring 12 goals over three games against the Kings. If they can somehow do that now than the Blackhawks will be playing for the Stanley Cup, but the playoffs are a different game and the Kings are looking like they can repeat as Jonathan Quick is playing just as good as last year when he won the Conn Smythe. The Blackhawks can’t afford to fall behind 3-1 in this series like they did against the Red Wings, because the Kings will not blow a 3-1 lead. The Wings also were able to frustrate Jonathan Toews, and force him into taking some bad penalties. Toews can’t allow that to happen again. However, with players like Drew Dougherty the Kings have a defense that is even better at shutting down players than the Red Wings. The Kings themselves are coming off a tough series against the Sharks, in which the home team won all seven games. That was a defensive goaltending series, and the Kings have developed a great home ice. The Blackhawks also have a strong home ice, so the pressure will be on for the Blackhawks in the first two games, if the Kings can steal one they will be well on their way. With the way Jonathan Quick is playing I sense the Kings can get one in the United Center and take the series in six games.