Jun 4, 2014, 9:32 AM EDT
We’re back with another round of scintillating PHT staff picks! Here’s how our band of keyboard jockeys have fared thus far:
Jason Brough: 7-1 in Round 1, 2-2 in Round 2, 1-1 in Conference Finals (and the only guy to take L.A.) — 10-4 overall.
Mike Halford: 5-3 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 0-2 in Conference Finals — 8-6 overall.
Joe Yerdon: 7-1 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 0-2 in Conference Finals — 10-4 overall.
James O’Brien: 5-3 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 1-1 in Conference Finals — 9-5 overall.
Ryan Dadoun: 4-for-8 in Round 1, 2-2 in Round 2, 1-1 in Conference Finals — 7-7 overall.
Cam Tucker: 5-3 in Round 1, 3-1 in Round 2, 0-2 in Conference Finals — 8-6 overall.
Onto the Final we go…
Brough: Kings in 7
I picked the Kings to win the Cup before the season and also before the playoffs, so I can’t really change now. I’m not sleeping on the Rangers by any means — great goalie, emerging star on defense, good depth up front and on the back end, solid mix of youth and experience, healthy, and well-rested — but I don’t think they can match the power of L.A., which has already beaten three very good teams, including the defending champs. Sure, the Kings might be a bit tired, but remember they’ll get two days off before Game 1, then another two days between Games 1 and 2, and there’s a two-day break between Games 5 and 6, if necessary. The key for me is Jonathan Quick. He needs to be better than he was against the ‘Hawks, who it should be noted have made a lot of good goalies look average.
Yerdon: Kings in 7
Heading into the playoffs, I believed that two East teams could make the West’s best sweat: the Bruins and the Rangers. That holds true today; Martin St. Louis generates buckets of chances, Ryan McDonagh keeps climbing the defensive ranks and Henrik Lundqvist is one of the few goalies truly worthy of “elite” designation. Even so, if you apply the “your life depends on it” criteria, I’d pick the Kings every time. They already survived brutal competition and carry themselves like a force that simply won’t be denied. Expect a spirited fight from the Rangers, though.
Dadoun: Kings in 6
The resiliency the Kings have shown makes them hard to bet against. They overcame a 3-0 series deficit and came from behind in Game 7 against the defending Stanley Cup champions. That’s to say nothing of the fact that they now have the all-time points leader in Game 7s (Justin Williams) and have won 10 of 11 series under Kings coach Darryl Sutter — these are just the tip of the iceberg, though, as you could point to almost any player on the team and reference an example of them being the hero in 2014. On paper, they’re hard to top and in practice, keeping them down is almost unheard of.
Tucker: Kings in 6
The New York Rangers have had a great run, especially after coming back to defeat Pittsburgh in seven games in the second round. St. Louis, enduring the tragedy of the sudden passing of his mother, has been an inspirational story for his play. But the Kings … how do you not pick the Kings? Three times in these playoffs, they’ve gone into an opposing team’s building in a Game 7 and won. It started in historical fashion in the first round and their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final was punched with another gutsy effort against Chicago. They also have the benefit of having been to this stage two years ago.
Halford: Rangers in 7
What, you thought I was going to follow the crowd? For all the talk about L.A.s’ resiliency, do remember the Rangers rallied back from a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in franchise history this postseason, and have won two Game 7s to L.A.’s three — one of them coming on the road, in Pittsburgh, to clinch their historic comeback. There’s also the goaltending factor. Lundqvist is playing like a man on a mission this postseason and, as we saw in the case of Tim Thomas during in 2011 and Quick two years ago, one hot goalie can greatly alter the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final. (And hey, it’s not like Quick has been on fire lately.)
- Flames stun Ducks in OT to get back in the series 0
- Video: Controversial no-goal call on Flames 2
- Video: Crawford, Kane help Blackhawks push Wild to brink of elimination 30
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 1
- Prust apologizes for all the stuff he said about referee Watson 48
- Flyers will be ‘extremely patient’ with youngsters, but ‘want a winner as soon as possible’ 22
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 16
- Holtby outduels Lundqvist as Caps take series lead 52
- Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’ 66
- End of an era in New Jersey as Shero replaces Lamoriello as GM 26
- Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits (103)
- ‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident (83)
- Lightning’s Bishop silences Red Wings in hard fought Game 7 (81)
- Babcock won’t discuss future yet, but sees challenges ahead for Wings (78)
- New York second: Capitals stun Rangers for 1-0 series lead (76)