I went two for two in the Conference finals, bringing my Playoff record in predictions up to 8 and 6, which is better than last year, but still further proof of why I shouldn't quite my day job. It all comes down to this - potentially seven games between two teams for the Stanley Cup.
Vancouver vs. Boston
The differences between these two teams are fairly striking. Vancouver has gotten better ever round in the playoffs so far, fumbling and stumbling through their series against Chicago, taking longer than anticipated against Nashville, and then being fairly dominant over San Jose. The best news for the Canucks is that the Sedins have finally hit their stride, and Luongo has not really had a bad game since round 1. Kesler continues to be their best player, and the likes of Kevin Bieksa has stepped up big on defense. The potentianl addition of Manny Maltholtra to their lineup earlier than expected could certainly help them - but if it turns out he isn't ready, I think Vancouver is strong enough without him. They have to be seen as the overwhelming favorites. For Boston, they fumbled and stumbled through their first round against Montreal, looked dominant over Philidelphia, and then fumbled and stumbled again against Tampa Bay. Their biggest weakness is their special teams - a lackluster penalty kill and a powerplay that can't score to save their lives. They need to play discplined hockey to have a chance here. They also need Tim Thomas to be more consistent than he has been in the first three rounds - at times he has looked like the Vezina trophy winner he is, and at times he looks uncomfortable. He needs to be great, or at least hope that Luongo also reverts back to his old ways and becomes inconsistent as well. The biggest factor may just be Zdeno Chara, and not just because he's 6'7. He'll be charged with shutting down the Sedins, and as Shea Weber proved in the Nashville series, it can be done. If Chara cannot do it, Boston's already slim chances will be non-existent.
Prediction: Vancouver in 6.