Who will win the East? Who will win the West? Who will win the Cup?
The lockout is over and the above questions are on the minds of hockey fans from Saskatoon to St. Petersburg, so let’s cut to chase and get with the prognostication.
In 2011 the Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins defeated the Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks four games to three, thus ending the Bruins 39-year Stanley Cup drought. 2012 brought disappointment for both teams as they were both eliminated in the Conference Quarter Finals.
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Since the inception of the Presidents’ Trophy in 1986, six teams have won it in back-to-back seasons. No team has ever won three consecutive years… this year the Vancouver Canucks will reach that milestone.
NHL Preview: Breakdown
The Northwest division is weak and the majority of the Canucks core players remain on contract. The Sedin twins will once again lead in points (Daniel) and assists (Henrik) and the defense was upgraded by the acquisition of Jason Garrison.
The only question mark, albeit small, is in goalie Cory Schneider. What he lacks in experience he flourishes in style and success. Schneider is butterfly style goalie that has an uncanny ability to anticipate plays and he positions properly to usurp the attacker. He sports a .928 SV% in 68 games over a three year NHL career. The Canucks also have the impending Robert Luongo trade which could be bust or boom.
Their predicted Stanley Cup opponent, the Boston Bruins also have most of the upper echelon talent returning this year. The Bruins have depth and are loaded with talent, especially in youngster Tyler Seguin and even more talent with the addition of Dougie Hamilton on the blue-line.
The Bruins can roll four lines onto the ice and can consistently produce. However; much like the Canucks the question mark for the Bruins is how will they fair between the pipes with goalie Tuukka Rask. If he is prepped and and performs consistently, Rask will contend for the Vezina trophy and will take the Stanley Cup Finals to seven games in dramatic fashion.
NHL Bold prediction
Rask, although on the losing side of the Stanley Cup Finals, will take home the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoffs MVP), a rare feat only achieved 5 times in 45 years.
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