Hey all! While we in the keystone province lament our second April without a playoff appearance by shining up our golf clubs and working on our swing, sixteen fortunate teams will vie for their chance to win this year's Stanley Cup trophy.
A lockout abbreviated season left many scrambling -- or in some cases stumbling -- towards the finish line, and though there are a few clear-cut favourites, it's anyone's guess who will emerge as Stanley Cup represenative for either conference.
Luckily for you, the vast unknown of the playoff landscape wasn't enough to deter your local experts from submitting their second annual round-by-round-previews. So with that, stick around for the Conference Final picks of Trevor, Derek, Ryan, Tim, Dan, Graham, Phil, Ben, Garret and a 25 cent Canadian quarter.
Feel free to belittle our projections and praise the the awesomeness that is Canadian currency.
After the Semifinals, here are our "expert" standings: Tim 11-1, Ben 10-2, Garret 10-2, Phil 10-2, Derek 9-3, Graham 9-3, TJ 9-3, 2012 25 cent Canadian quarter 8-4, Dan 8-4, Ryan 8-4, Trevor 3-1
Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (5)
Chicago won the season series 2-1-0.
Why Chicago will win: After facing adversity in a 3-1 series deficit to an upstart Detroit Red Wings squad, the Blackhawks clawed back with three straight wins of their own to punch their ticket to the Conference Finals. Bryan Bickell has been a terror for opposing goalies, tallying five goals in twelve games and will need to continue being a factor should Chicago have Stanley Cup aspirations, especially with marginal output from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Why Los Angeles will win: Jonathan Quick has picked up where he left off during last year's playoffs, leading the league with three postseason shutouts to match his pristine .948 SV%; which is good considering the Kings have a knack for winning games 2-1. It's often said that defence wins championships and they come none better than Quick between the pipes.
TJ's pick: Chicago in 7.
Derek's pick: Chicago in 6.
Ryan's pick: Los Angeles in 7.
Tim's pick: Los Angeles in 6.
Dan's pick: Chicago in 6.
Graham's pick: Los Angeles in 6.
Phil's pick: Chicago in 7.
Ben's pick: Los Angeles in 7.
Garret's pick: Los Angeles in 6.
Trevor's pick: Chicago in 6.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: Los Angeles Kings.
Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. Boston Bruins (4)
Pittsburgh won the season series 3-0-0.
Why Pittsburgh will win: Buoyed by the offensive dominance that is Evgeny Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla, it's hard to argue there is a more offensively gifted team remaining in this year's playoffs than the Penguins. I mean, even Pascal Dupuis has seven (!) goals. If the Penguins sustain their white hot power play efficiency, it will be hibernation time for the Bruins.
Why Boston will win: Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton are arguably the most gifted fourth line in the NHL, and that's important when you reach a stage as grand as being four wins away from the Stanley Cup Final. Claude Julien has the utmost trust in his grinders who will likely have to spell Patrice Bergeron in covering Crosby & Co. in games away from the TD Garden. Boston's depth -- and the insurgence of Torey Krug (?) -- will seriously be put to the test.
TJ's pick: Boston in 6.
Derek's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
Ryan's pick: Boston in 6.
Tim's pick: Boston in 6.
Dan's pick: Pittsburgh in 7.
Graham's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
Phil's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
Ben's pick: Boston in 7.
Garret's pick: Boston in 7.
Trevor's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: Boston Bruins.