It's finally time for the Conference Finals and the Final Four teams couldn't be more.....I guess evenly matched could be a good word for it, but these should be some solid series; though it'll take a lot to match the San Jose/Detroit series or Vancouver/Chicago side.
Well.....let's do it.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
This will be a chess-match. The fact that both these teams are leading the way in the East proves that defense wins championships. The big issue will be not only trying to figure out each of these goalies-- but also which team can transition better off their defensive strong-point.
When it comes down to it, I think Tampa has a better edge and have shown a little bit more depth in their line-up. Not to say the Bruins don't have that, but who would have thought that Sean Bergenheim would have seven goals and Steve Downie have 10 assists?? Those are two guys who are really helping out beyond the top guys of Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Steven Stamkos.
However, the Bruins definitely have a defensive edge with Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference on the back-end. The fact Timmy Thomas is up for a Vezina should tell you that he's got the credentials to get a team through the worst, but he does have his own bouts of meltdowns.
PREDICTION: Tampa Bay Lightning in Seven Games
WHY??: It'll be a struggle in this series with these two, but I think the Bolts have really shown their gumption with Guy Boucher behind the bench and the long layoff will serve them well in resting a guy like Dwayne Roloson, who is up there and may not have been able to taken the grind of one series after another.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (2) San Jose Sharks
While we had hoped these two would be in their Conference finals-- not many people thought they could actually get to it and face each other. A lot of people on the Twitter even said this could be the first series where both teams would lose-- which I would like to see, actually.
When it comes to the Canucks, it was great for them to get Ryan Kesler back into the fold, but now it's about getting the Sedins into it. This series could be a wide-open event, which could bring in the Sedins nicely-- but if they can't get it going from Game One; it could be another series of commentators questioning them night-after-night.
The Sharks should be happy not to choke a 3-0 lead in the second round, but at the same time-- it's a warning for them. The fact we'll see a Joe Thornton and Kesler match-up in the face-off dot is exciting. The big deal is Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture carrying the Sharks in the scoring, which needs to be a wake-up call for Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley-- who have been virtuall invisible.
PREDICTION: San Jose Sharks in Six Games
WHY??: While the goaltending and defensive breakdown hurt the Sharks psyche a bit-- the fact remains they are getting a lot from their depth guys and can put distance on themselves when needed. Both teams are going to be urged to get their offense going quickly because the minute they rattle the oppositions goalie-- the better the chances to making it a quick series.