Well, my favorite time of year got under way in the past week, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This year, the 16 teams vying for, in my opinion, the greatest trophy in all of sports are: Eastern Conference: (1) New York Rangers, (2) Boston Bruins, (3) Florida Panthers, (4) Pittsburgh Penguins, (5) Philadelphia Flyers, (6) New Jersey Devils, (7) Washington Capitals, (8) Ottawa Senators; Western Conference: (1) Vancouver Canucks, (2) St. Louis Blues, (3) Phoenix Coyotes, (4) Nashville Predators, (5) Detroit Red Wings, (6) Chicago Blackhawks, (7) San Jose Sharks, (8) Los Angeles Kings.
The match-ups in the east are Rangers v. Senators, Bruins v. Capitals, Panthers v. Devils, and Penguins v. Flyers.
In the West we have Canucks v. Kings, Blues v. Sharks, Coyotes v. Blackhawks, and Predators v. Red Wings.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are my favorite postseason system because the difference between a first-place team and a last-place team in the NHL is so much closer than any other professional sports league.
You almost never see a one seed lose to an eight seed in the NBA playoffs, yet upsets like that occur almost every year in the NHL playoffs.
For example, when the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010, they were the seven seed in the East and actually had home ice advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals because the team they played, the Montreal Canadians, was the eighth seed.
So the bottom two teams in the east managed to overcome higher seeds in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The competition level in the National Hockey League is just that high.
As for who will win Lord Stanley’s Cup this season, call me biased, but I really think my Philadelphia Flyers will be able to get it do
However, I could just as easily see them getting bounced in the first round by our cross state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I firmly believe that whoever wins that first round series between the four and five seeds in the east will move onto the finals.
Down the stretch of the regular season, they really were the two most consistent teams, especially since Ilya Bryzgalov found his game in early March.
Also, the Flyers have owned the Penguins this season, so even though everyone else considers the Penguins the best team in the NHL, the Broad Street Bullies will find a way to prevail.
As for the Western Conference, I’m going with the eight seed.
Yes, I think the Los Angeles Kings will be able to upset the President’s Trophy winner Vancouver Canucks and ride that momentum all the way to the finals.
The only reason the Kings are the lowest seed in the conference is because of their dismal start to the season.
They have been probably the hottest team in the West over the last few weeks, and getting hot at the right time is all it takes.
So my prediction for the Stanley Cup Finals is the Philadelphia Flyers over the Los Angeles Kings in six games.