The conference finals are set, and at the end of the series, new champions will be crowned.
The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning have seen this forum before, both having made it at one point or another in their history’s. A victory for San Jose or Vancouver will be the first time a conference banner graces the barn of one of these teams.
It should be an interesting set of series, and with the teams remaining, my rooting interest remains, despite a normal hatred for them, the Boston Bruins. My logic is simple, Tampa is not a traditional hockey market, so therefore, I don’t want to see them win again before my Buffalo Sabres bring home the Stanley Cup. Same thing for San Jose – I don’t want to see another cup in California before one shows up in Buffalo.
My disdain for Vancouver is slightly different. Given the fact that the Sabres and Canucks were spawned into the league at the same time, I would hate to see the first Stanley Cup for the Class of 1970 go to the Canucks.
Despite my feelings, it is going to play out the way it plays out, so here are my picks for the Conference Finals:
San Jose Sharks vs. Vancouver Canucks
The Sharks have been on the cusp of winning for several seasons now, but tend to under perform in the playoffs. This is the first time they have been able to overcome the semifinals to play in the NHL Frozen Four. The Sharks faced major adversity against Detroit, dropping three straight elimination games, and holding on for a win in Game 7. Taking Detroit that long in a series has to wear on a team.
The Canucks are also under performers in the Stanley Cup Finals, and Luongo has a history of disappearing. He has been replaced once in this playoff run, so the likelyhood of it happening again is there. Ask Philadelphia how goaltending by platoon works out for them.
The San Jose Sharks win this series in six games.
Boston Bruins vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Boston is my annointed favorite for this series, just because they are who I would like to see win the Cup. Tampa Bay has the ability to surprise teams, and has proven it this year. I wouldn’t call them elite by any stretch of the means, but they do have the right guys on their roster. Their core has grown up and really proven then can play some good hockey.
I am going to stick with my heart on this one, and I am going to say that the Boston Bruins will face the San Jose after defeating Tampa in six games.
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