Earlier this month I boldly (nice word for foolishly) predicted the outcomes of the first round of the Stanley Cup finals for Gonzo. Fortunately my crystal ball was working pretty good as I correctly guessed the results of seven of the eight.
I predicted Vegas defeating LA, San Jose downing Anaheim, Winnipeg over Minnesota, Pittsburgh out-thumping Philadelphia, Nashville dumping Colorado, Tampa Bay eliminating New Jersey, and Washington squeaking past Columbus.
My only failed prediction saw my beloved Leafs lose to my second favourite club – Boston. I was correct in suggesting the series would last the full seven games, however I went with the heart and chose the boys in blue and white. (Old dreams are hard to ignore).
So, feeling somewhat bolstered by my impressive guessing record in the first round of the pursuit for Lord Stanley’s sacred mug, I confidently (more blowhard hyperbole) now predict the outcomes of round two. Drum-roll please.
Vegas Knights will continue their Cinderella story magic and, despite the predictions of most puck pundits, eliminate San Jose in five games. Once again goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will prove too much, though this time he will let in more pucks than in the series with Los Angeles.
Winnipeg and Nashville will pound each other into the ice in an intense, closely contended, fast and physical series. In the end Nashville’s depth on the blue line will prove to be the difference as well as a further resurgence of goaltender Pekka Rinne. Nashville wins the series in six games. Whichever club actually captures this series will represent the West in the final round and could win all the marbles.
Pittsburgh Penguins’ overall depth, especially up front, will prove too much as they manage to dump Washington Capitals in six. Alexander Ovechkin will play marvelous but will not be able to overcome the odds alone. If Evgeni Malkin is out for the series, however, that could change the outcome.
Tampa Bay will defeat Boston (sob) in six. I originally picked Tampa to win it all at the beginning of the year however I’m not so sure now since they seem to have lost a stride or two. I do believe their defense will outlast Boston’s blue liners in this war of attrition though. Bruins are tired already from a tougher than expected series with Toronto.
If my second round predictions prove accurate then in round three expect Nashville to finally burst the Vegas dream bubble edging the Knights in six games while Pittsburgh will slip by Tampa in seven high scoring end to end games.
Nashville will then defeat Pittsburgh in six games to win their first Stanley Cup.