Eastern Conference Final
Boston Bruins vs Carolina Hurricanes
Boston won two of three games played against one another this season
A “Bunch of Jerks” aka Carolina Hurricanes are making a cinderella run as they defeated division rival and defending champion Washington Capitals in seven grueling games and then went on to sweep division foe New York Islanders for a place in the Eastern Conference Final. Their prize will be against the Boston Bruins who made the Eastern Conference Final after defeating an offensive juggernaut in the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games and then defeated a suddenly red hot Columbus Blue Jackets to reach the Eastern Conference Final.
Many might take Boston in this series, however, Carolina has shown to not underestimate them as they have won despite the odds. They also seem to be having a lot of fun and are getting into a groove. The Hurricanes are getting hot at the right time.
Offensively, both sides are pretty much even, but the Bruins have an edge with having a lot more postseason experience and their defensive abilities especially with such a trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. That doesn’t mean the Hurricanes have nothing offensively as it has shown with such promising stars in Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho that they can produce some goals as well. While Boston has the edge, Carolina matches up well.
However, what the Hurricanes do have is more depth on the blue line. Yes Boston is a bit banged up with injuries, but Carolina actually has been stronger here. That could be a crucial part to where this series goes.
However, when it comes goaltending, Boston dominates. They have a proven annual Vezina Trophy candidate in Tuuka Rask who has been arguably the hottest in front of the net this postseason. Carolina has little known Curtis McElhinney, who has been pretty good, but he will be faced with a really tough test in the Bruins offense.
James Rowe: Carolina. While Boston is the better team here, are more experienced, and have a hot goalie, I just think the Hurricanes are playing the best form of hockey at the right time. Despite Boston having being tested this postseason, they have dealt with injuries and I think it will catch up to them. This will go seven games, but Carolina is going to continue this cinderella story.
Western Conference Final
San Jose Sharks vs St. Louis Blues
San Jose won two of three games played against one another this season
San Jose was tested in the first two rounds of the playoffs as they went to the seventh game of their series against each of their opponents, first Vegas Golden Knights and second Colorado Avalanche, to get to the Western Conference Final. Now they are hoping they can continue their battles all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. However, they will be facing off against a St. Louis Blues team, who arguably has had the greatest run of success since the start of the calendar year despite seemingly being dead in the water (30-15-5 since January when they were last in the Central Division), as they come to the Western Conference Final after having beaten the Winnipeg Jets in six games in the first round and then going to a seventh game against the Dallas Stars. Both teams have dealt with a lot of disappointment for their fans over the decades, so this will be exciting nonetheless.
San Jose had dealt with a speedy Colorado team last round, but now face off against a physical force in St. Louis, which means that San Jose has the upper hand as they play better in those type of games.
Sharks have an excellent offense as they are incredibly deep and their power play will be one of the keys to their success, plus they were nearly unbeatable on penalty killing. Blues aren’t very strong on special teams, but they are riding on their goalie sensation Jordan Binnington who has been incredible at stopping pucks from getting in the net and he would be the biggest factor for St. Louis to advance, however, he never faced San Jose this season. The one thing the two teams are even on are defense.
James: San Jose. I’ve just got this gut feeling that San Jose is just going to win this series in seven games and it will be because it comes down to special teams which St. Louis struggles with.