Who will be this year's Boston Bruins? It may just be Boston again. Photo courtesy Barry Chin/Boston Globe

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will get started later this week and there are 16 teams fighting for the right to lift Lord Stanley above their heads. Boston won it last year and they’re back to defend their title, but the Presidents’ Trophy has gone to Vancouver in the west for a second straight year? Who will win? Who will go home early? Let’s take a look right now.

Conference Quarterfinals


#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick and the Kings won’t be quick enough for the league’s best team in the regular season. Los Angeles shows their mediocrity on the road early and often and fall to the Canucks in five.
WINNER: Vancouver Canucks

#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #7 San Jose Sharks
St. Louis absolutely owned San Jose during their four meetings in the regular season and this post season should be no different. Both goalies for St. Louis, Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot, went 2-0 against the Sharks so it shouldn’t matter too much who Ken Hitchcock sends out there. Blues win in four.
WINNER: St. Louis Blues

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #6 Chicago Blackhawks
The windy city loves their Blackhawks, but love may not be enough. Phoenix’s only loss came with the less-than-spectacular Jason LaBarbera between the pipes he and his 5.00 GAA won’t see much ice time, if any, from here on out. Phoenix takes the series on the road in Game 6.
WINNER: Phoenix Coyotes

#4 Nashville Predators vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
These are two very evenly-matched teams. Detroit is elite at home which, if Nashville wins, should, at the very least, force them to do in seven games. Nevertheless, the Red Wings slightly outscored the Predators in their six run-ins in the regular season and I think they pull it out in seven here.
WINNER: Detroit Red Wings


#1 New York Rangers vs. #8 Ottawa Senators
The Senators won 3 of 4 against the Rangers in the regular season, but the postseason can be a different beast entirely. Neither of these teams perform significantly better at home and predicting how this series goes could prove rather difficult. Let’s say New York fends off a pesky Ottawa squad in seven.
WINNER: New York Rangers

#2 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Washington Capitals
This could be a juggernaut matchup that should’ve occurred maybe in the conference finals. The Bruins only won one game against Washington in the regular season. Now, forward Nicklas Backstrom is healthy again and may put them over the top. Washington wins in game seven for the first time in Boston.
WINNER: Washington Capitals

#3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
In their four games against each other in the regular season, Florida and New Jersey were fairly evenly matched. However, this is one of those cases where the seeding is a little misleading here as the Devils are the more superior squad. Florida has been elite at home but New Jersey plays just fine on foreign ice. The Devils win in six.
WINNER: New Jersey Devils

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Philadelphia Flyers
The battle of Pennsylvania should be a gruesome one. The Flyers actually racked up more standings points on the road but the Penguins are tough at home, which will make those four games the most crucial in the series. Eventually, the high-flying Pens offense with center Evgeni Malkin win it in six.
Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins


Conference Semifinals


#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
Again, going by record, Vancouver is the league’s best team, but it’s tough to win in Motown. Jimmy Howard frustrates Henrik and Daniel Sedin and the three-pronged attack of Henrik Zatteberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Valtteri Filppula eventually overwhelm the Canucks’ Roberto Luongo. Detroit upsets the Presidents’ Cup champs in six.
WINNER: Detroit Red Wings

#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #3 Phoenix Coyotes
If St. Louis is going to advance, it’s going to rely solely on Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot between the pipes. Their outstanding goaltending combined with St. Louis’ often impotent offense should keep these games a low scoring affair. The Blues are virtually unbeatable at home making their home ice advantage crucial here. The Blues edge the Coyotes in seven.
WINNER: St. Louis Blues


#1 New York Rangers vs. #7 Washington Capitals
The Rangers run into a familiar playoff foe in the Capitals. New York is top in the East and Henrik Lundqvist is elite but Washington has proven to be their postseason kryptonite in recent years. New York’s home ice hasn’t been the advantage they hoped it would be and the Capitals stump them again, this time winning in six.
WINNER: Washington Capitals

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
This is a bad matchup for New Jersey. Despite having the third-fewest goals allowed in the conference, the Devils no longer have an elite goalie as Martin Brodeur isn’t the wall between the pipes he used to be. The Penguins, on the other hand, have count ’em FIVE 25+ goal threats and their team points leader, Malkin, has double that. Pittsburgh dispose of the Devils in five.
WINNER: Pittsburgh Penguins


Conference Finals


#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
There are several ways to look at this matchup but here is the easiest: These are the only two teams in the NHL to win 30+ games at home this year. They love their home ice and hate playing on the road. If there was an offense out there that could test Halak and Elliot, Detroit isn’t it. The Blues win in seven.
WINNER: St. Louis Blues


#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #7 Washington Capitals
If these two fierce rivals face off with a ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals on the line, it’s going to be an absolutely awesome series. Pittsburgh’s potent offense will put anyone they face to the test and, if the Capitals are still starting Braden Holtby, Washington may not make the grade. Malkin and James Neal prove to be too much and Pittsburgh advances in six.
WINNER: Pittsburgh Penguins


Stanley Cup Finals

#2 (West) St. Louis Blues vs. #4 (East) Pittsburgh Penguins
In the classic battle of prolific goal scoring versus stringent goaltending, this series will shift momentum countless times. But is it really pure offense versus pure defense? Despite Pittsburgh scoring 54 more goals during the season, the Penguins and Blues have the same number of double-digit goal scorers: nine. In two squads that spread the puck around effectively, St. Louis goalies Halak and Elliot do a better job of picking up the shots and hold Pittsburgh back. The Blues win in six.

St. Louis Blues

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