No longer is the NHL Playoffs an afterthought in the sports world. The league’s best teams are no longer destined to miss the finals, and its most popular players are no longer limited to ho-hum performances in the final series. The start of the new season has given us everything we could have wanted from hockey, and the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs got even better this week with the addition of the NHL’s new playoff format. All of the league’s best teams are in, the number of games played has increased and the stage has been set for the greatest postseason in league history. Here’s what we know: The Eastern Conference’s top seeds have all but wrapped up their spots in the conference finals against the West’s top seeds.
Who will win the Stanley Cup?
After a rather uneventful first round, things are heating up in the Eastern Conference. The top seeds — the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins — have already clinched a playoff berth. And there is a very good chance that either Boston or Toronto will fall as well. With the top three seeds all but clinched, and the rest of the conference looking mighty familiar, only one team will remain in need of a miracle. And that team is the New York Islanders. The Islanders have been a surprise team this playoffs, and suddenly they’re in the mix as a real playoff threat. However, it will be extremely difficult for the Islanders to make a serious run this postseason, as they are one of the top teams in the conference.
The West will take it
The West’s top seed, the Anaheim Ducks, have been pretty good this season, but not great. They’ve still got a chance to knock off the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the Western Conference Finals, but they’ll need to turn their performance up a notch. The Ducks have a much deeper team than the Penguins, and they’ve shown that they can hang with the top teams in the league. If Anaheim can make it to the Conference Finals, they will face either the Pittsburgh Penguins or the team that stumbled into their path — the Nashville Predators.
The East is set
In the East, things are a bit more thrilling. After sweeping the first two rounds, the Boston Bruins will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the conference final. The Bruins and Leafs have met in the postseason the last two seasons, and while the Bruins won both times, this year’s Eastern final will be very interesting. Boston has the best record in the conference, and the Bruins are fully aware that they are one upset away from being champions. Boston has been contenders for a long time, and it’s hard to believe that they are still in it. The Bruins are a super team, and they will be difficult to beat. However, it will probably take a awhile for them to get their act together, and they are definitely not at their peak right now. If the Bruins get their act together, they will be a tough team to beat.
The Final is in sight
The West has been pretty quiet so far, but the Conference Finals are about to start. After sweeps of the first two rounds, the favored San Jose Sharks are one win away from their first Stanley Cup. In the Conference Finals, the Sharks willront a Red Wings team that has not been very impressive this season. The Sharks went through a awful stretch earlier in the season, and they’ve found their game again, but they still aren’t the same team that they were before. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are a deep and talented team that is still looking for their first cup. This will be an entertaining series, and one that will likely conclude in a sixth game. If the series stays close, it will be a nail-biter. However, after six games, the Sharks will likely have the upper hand.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue with the Western Conference Finals. Both the top-seeded Sharks and top-flungred Anaheim Ducks will duke it out in San Jose. The winner will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals, and then the two teams will meet in the Cup Final. It’s not often that we get to see an NBA Finals rematch, so that will be a treat. The NBA Playoffs are the final chance for these teams to win it all.
The Western Conference is set
After sweeping the first two rounds, the San Jose Sharks are one win away from their first Stanley Cup. In the Conference Finals, the Sharks willront a Red Wings team that has not been very impressive this season. The Sharks went through a awful stretch earlier in the season, and they’ve found their game again, but they still aren’t the same team that they were before. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are a deep and talented team that is still looking for their first cup. This will be an entertaining series, and one that will probably conclude in a sixth game. If the series stays close, it will be a nail-biter. However, after six games, the Sharks will likely have the upper hand.
Which wildcard team will win?
In the West, the San Jose Sharks will likely face off against the Anaheim Ducks in the Conference Finals. The Sharks have some talent on their team, but the Ducks are a better team, and they have the blessings of an even better home crowd. The Sharks have been here before, and they know how to win. However, the Ducks have not been at their best this season, and they also have a home crowd that can energize the team. This series will go the full seven games, and it will very likely be decided in the Conference Finals.
Bonus Prediction: Who’s left standing?
The Western Conference Finals are a one-gamer series, and there are no tie-breakers. The winner will be the conference champion, and there’s a good chance that the Seattle Seahawks will represent the West in the Super Bowl. However, the Seahawks don’t have a great record against the NFC this season, and they might fall in the conference finals. The NFC has a ton of talent, and Seattle just doesn’t. If anything, the Seahawks will be in trouble if the NFC team is very good.
Bonus Prediction: Who’s getting bounced?
The Western Conference Finals feature two teams with winning records against the NFC. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are both 5-1 against the NFC. And they have a good chance of getting a bit of revenge for the 2012 Super Bowl. However, the NFC team that gets bounced in the first round has a ton of talent. It could very well be the Packers or the Giants. If they fail to get to the conference finals, then the season will have been a failure. However, they have a great chance of reaching the Super Bowl.
Bonus Prediction: Can the Wildcard team actually win?
The NFC doesn’t have the best record against the AFC, but that could change in the conference finals. The New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers will get the first crack at meeting in the conference finals. Both teams are below-.500, and they have been playing pretty well. This could be a great series, with both teams finding their form. If either team gets hot, it could very well be over. However, the 49ers have an outside chance of winning the whole thing.
End of Series Prediction
For the first time in the history of the playoffs, there will be no game six. The series will end one game to the good for either team. In the West, the Sharks will take the series to the wire, while the NFC team gets cold. In the East, the Bears will take the series to the wire, while the NFC team gets cold. They will play in the snow, and it will be very exciting. Both series will likely go to seven games, and the winner will be the conference champ.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a great time to be a sports fan. The competition is stiff, the games are great and the outcomes are often very close. This is the most exciting time of the year, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the ultimate reward for a great season. The final will be very close, and it will probably go to a seventh game.