2010 NHL playoffs: Conference finals predictions

We’ve already proven
just how useless making predictions in the playoffs can be
, but
since we’re gluttons for punishment we thought we’d go ahead and keep at
it anyway. That the conference finals are so evenly matched for each
series will likely mean that we’re nowhere close on our predictions, but
here they are nonetheless.

Eastern Conference Finals

7)
Philadelphia Flyers vs. 8) Montreal Canadiens

James: I’m just
as conflicted with this
series as I am with Chicago-San Jose. Montreal has the best goalie of
the playoffs, a decent group of forwards masquerading as an incredible
group of forwards and a sharp defensive system that rarely springs a
leak. (They allow a lot of shots, but not a lot of quality chances) On
the other hand, Philadelphia has plenty of firepower and some big, mean
forwards. It could go either way. Ultimately, my motto is: when it
doubt, go with the team that has Chris Pronger. Philadelphia in 6.

Joe:
No, I’m not trying to do some reverse jinx stuff after picking the
Habs
to get bounced in six games in the previous two series. What I’m saying
is that I’m now a believer and I think they’ll find things to be a
little easier going against the Flyers. The Flyers haven’t played a team
this dedicated to defense yet, which is stunning since they’ve already
beaten the Devils. It won’t be pretty to watch regardless of who does
win but I think the Habs continue to work miracles. Montreal in 6.

Brandon:
This is going to be one heck of an interesting series to watch, as
these are two teams seemingly riding the wave of “destiny” on their road
to deep in the playoffs. Someone’s luck will run out and one team will
find their energy and edge gone after a month straight of overcoming the
odds. You also have to think, especially with two teams so evenly
matched, that the goaltending will truly make the difference. Jaroslav
Halak has proven so far that he’s the goalie to beat, and Michael
Leighton is still struggling to get his game together. Montreal in 7.

Western
Conference Finals

1) San Jose Sharks vs. 2) Chicago
Blackhawks

James: Every once in a while, a
pre-season prediction will have its advantages. Like, say, when you
don’t really know which team will win a playoff series. I picked the San
Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup last summer, so I’ll stick with them
until I’m wrong. Thank goodness for this default choice, though,
because I have no idea who I actually think will win.
San Jose in
6.

Joe:
I’ll be honest here, I really have no solid idea as to who will win
this
series. Both teams are playing great, both teams are showing tremendous
killer instinct and both teams have other-worldly talent. Saying this
one goes seven games is my way of saying this is a toss-up that goes
either way. I’m siding with the Sharks because I believe that this is
their time and that all the nagging labels they’ve had on them before
they’ve shaken off. Of course Chicago can still win this and make me a
huge liar. San Jose in 7.

Brandon: Is this finally
the year for the Sharks? Or will the Blackhawks take advantage of
perhaps their best and final shot to get this far before the salary cap
comes down upon their head this summer? Like Joe, there’s literally no
way to tell how this series will go because I honestly have no clue how
the Sharks will react after finally getting to the Conference finals
after four years of disappointment. I blindly throw a dart against the
wall. Chicago in 7.

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    Beard breakdown: Burns vs. Thornton (Video)

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    Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.

    Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”

    In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.

    The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.

    One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.

    Brouwer mulling signing with Canucks in free agency

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 21: Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues looks on against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on December 21, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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    Troy Brouwer grew up in North Delta, a suburb of Vancouver.

    We mention this because, on Monday, Vancouver’s News 1130 spoke with Brouwer — a pending UFA — about his plans for the future. And, lo and behold, Brouwer has thought about a return home.

    “I have thought about it, for sure,” Brouwer said. “Family and friends, playing for my hometown, it would be an experience for sure.”

    The 30-year-old added his father is a “huge” Canucks fan and that Mark Messier, who spent two ill-fated seasons in Vancouver, was a “big influence” on Brouwer’s career.

    So, file that one away for the future.

    Brouwer will likely have a number of suitors come July 1. A Stanley Cup winner with Chicago in 2010, he’s been a very reliable goalscorer — at least 17 in seven straight seasons — and is coming off a terrific playoff, in which he scored eight goals and 13 points in 20 games for the Blues.

    The Blues, of course, would probably like to retain Brouwer. They paid a high price to get him — T.J. Oshie, in last summer’s deal with Washington — and used him quite a bit this year. Brouwer averaged 16 minutes per night in the regular season and nearly 19 during the playoffs.

    Problem is, St. Louis might not have the cap space to retain him. Brouwer will almost certainly be getting a raise on the $3.66M he earned annually on his last deal, and the Blues have some other financial decisions to make this summer (like captain David Backes, for example.)

    “Not sure what the Blues plans are,” Brouwer told News 1130. “I’m assuming we will talk with them before July 1st.”

    Bettman: The ‘word’ on expansion should come June 22

    NHL hockey commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, after attending an NHL owners meeting in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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    PITTSBURGH — Mark June 22 on the calendar. That’s when the NHL’s Board of Governors will meet in Las Vegas, and that’s when we should get word about the league’s expansion plans.

    “That word,” commissioner Gary Bettman said today at his annual Stanley Cup Final press conference, “will probably come in one of the following forms:

    “Whether there will be no expansion; whether expansion will be deferred until a later time in the future; or whether there will be expansion, and if so whether it will be a one-team or a two-team expansion.

    “I am not going to handicap what’s going to happen. But again, when the board meets in Las Vegas on June 22, I am fairly certain that we will know more than we do today.”

    The NHL is currently considering two expansion bids, one from Las Vegas and another from Quebec City. The former is optimistic about its chances, while the latter’s fortunes may have been dashed by the decline of the Canadian dollar.

    On Las Vegas, the commissioner and his deputy, Bill Daly, were asked if the NFL’s potential foray into that market could affect the NHL’s decision. The answer to that question was no.

    The other theme of today’s press conference was the Olympics. Specifically, the IOC’s decision to stop covering millions of dollars in transportation and insurance costs for the players.

    On that, Bettman had a strong message for the IOC and IIHF.

    “I’m pretty sure that our teams are not really interested in paying for the privilege of disrupting our season,” he said.

    In other words, if the IOC and IIHF can’t resolve the “expense issue,” it’s practically a certainty that the NHL will not be sending its players to Pyeongchang‎, South Korea.

    WATCH LIVE: Stanley Cup Final Game 1 – Sharks at Penguins

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Pittsburgh Penguins fans sit outside of Consol Energy Center prior to Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The wait is finally over. The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is about to begin.

    Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks received some time to lick their wounds after three grueling playoff rounds, so expect Game 1 to be fun, even if there might be a subtle bit of rust here or there.

    The star power is considerable. The beards are burly (at least on the Sharks’ side). It’s time to get cracking.

    Game 1 airs on NBC. You can also stream it via the link below and enjoy some “NHL Live” coverage leading in.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE