NHL Playoffs Bracket – Conference Finals: Rangers Devils, Coyotes Kings
NHL Playoffs Bracket Predictions, Eastern and Western Conference Finals: New York Rangers Vs New Jersey Devils, Phoenix Coyotes vs LA Kings
We had a perfect bracket in the Eastern Conference after first round updates, including a seven games prediction for the New York Rangers to take out the Caps. The Devils handled business a game early against the Flyers, but I’m sure we’ll take it. On the opposite side, the Coyotes surprised us behind the incredible goaltending of Mike Smith. The Kings also rode goaltending through the St. Louis Blues, but their timely scoring was the true difference maker. Now, the Rangers host the Devils for the right to advance to the Stanley Cup, which means our original bracket’s champion is still alive. I had the Coyotes making the final against the Preds, but it happened a round early. Do they have enough to take down a surging LA Kings team? Two division rivals do battle in each of the conference final matchups – can you ask for anything more?
Western Conference Finals – Phoenix Coyotes Vs LA Kings
The LA Kings are possibly the hottest team left in the playoffs after dismantling the top two seeds in the Western Conference. This post is a day late, which means the Kings have already taken back home ice advantage in Game One of this series. They have a fantastic goaltender in Jonathan Quick and he’ll keep this series extremely tight. Additionally, the Kings have some scoring weapons that are heating up at the right time. Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown are on fire, each with double-digit scoring so far this postseason. Former-Flyers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter renewed their Broad Street chemistry to provide a spark in the playoffs.
The Coyotes were dominated for large stretches by the Nashville Predators in the first round. At one point, Phoenix protected a one-goal lead through the third period despite being outshot 16-1. The reason Phoenix is a contender this year is the incredible play of goaltender Mike Smith. He enters the conference finals as the goalie with the highest save percentage left in the postseason. He can take over this series and win it for Phoenix, and I refuse to bet against a goalie this hot.
Coyotes in Seven
Eastern Conference Finals – New York Rangers Vs New Jersey Devils
Henrik Lundqvist may very well be the best goaltender in hockey – Marty Brodeur even conceded as much to the media this week. The Rangers rely heavily on their goaltender, who in the prime of his stellar career is on the cusp of his first Stanley Cup, which says a lot about the mediocrity of the franchise he’s played for. Finally, the Rangers surrounded Hank with a suitable cast for a deep playoff run. The big names, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, finally came through in the playoffs to lead the team in scoring and past the Caps. The defense is a bit top-heavy, but the shutdown defensemen of the New York Rangers will help neutralize the Devils’ scorers. Still, the Rangers are very beatable. The bottom pairings of their defensive corps are below average and they lack scoring depth. Most importantly, they’ll be tired after playing fourteen games in the first two rounds against the bottom seeds in the conference.
The New Jersey Devils are fresh off one of the most convincing wins of the playoffs. They dominated the Flyers with pressure, and their depth was on display. They won a game without an injured Ilya Kovalchuk, they won behind the heroism of Dainus Zubrus, they won with consistent goaltending, and they won with four lines of incredible forechecking. This team has an average defense and an aging goalie, but I don’t think the Rangers have the energy or the skaters to exploit either. In fact, Marty Brodeur making a final push at the Cup has to be just about as scary as it gets for the Rangers. They’ll be fresh and energized, and over a full series the Rangers won’t have an answer for New Jersey’s scoring depth and forechecking.
Granted, Henrik Lundqvist can steal any series and any game, but I think the Devils can crack him.
Devils in Six
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