Conference Finals Predictions
Written by: Alex Brunstom
The final four teams remaining are almost completely polar opposite matchup's when it comes to the structure and skill level of each conference. The western conference teams see two offensive juggernauts with arguably 4 of the top 5 players in the league. The Eastern Conference features what could possibly go down as one of the greatest goaltending matchups in the history of the sport. These conference finals are going to be the most entertaining show in sports this year and it already started with a 14-goal thriller!
Western Conference: Colorado Avalanche vs Edmonton Oilers
This player matchup is one that the NHL has been waiting on for years. Connor McDavid vs Nathan MacKinnon. It’s finally here! Connor McDavid who has stamped his name as the best in the world right now and Nathan MacKinnon as a top 3 player and arguable the most explosive player in the league.
Then you have Leon Draisaitl vs Cale Makar as a second player matchup! Draisaitl just casually broke a Gretzky record for most assists in a series and did it in 5 games, is a top 5 player in this league no question. Cale Makar is the best defenseman in the league and might even be a as good if not better skater than Connor McDavid (Ludacris to say but I think there’s an argument to be had).
What a dream matchup to watch. If you’ve never watched hockey before and want to get into it, watch this series because it is the most talented collection of players in a series against each other and it will be goals galore!
The Avalanche are clearly the better team on paper. They’re a little deeper and have the better D-corpse. However, the Oilers have a guy named Connor McDavid who happens to be the best in the world and is a man on a mission.
The first game ended as a final score of 8-6. It started as a back-and-forth period that the Avs had controlled for the most part, but the Oilers took advantage of their opportunities. The Avs exploded in the second period and took a 7-4 lead into the third. Connor and Leon carried this team to get to 7-6 to make it a game (was 6-2 and 7-3 at one point) but the Avs prevailed for an 8-6 win. What a way to start these conference finals!
Before this series started, I would have said Avs in 5. But after watching this game, I think it will be a lot closer than people think. It all depends on which Mike Smith shows up for Edmonton. He’s shown that he can play out of his mind this run but has also showed some boneheaded plays. As much as I want to see Connor McJesus take over the hockey world this year, I think Colorado is just too good on the back end with guys like Cale Makar, Devon Toews, and Bo Byram.
I’ve got Avalanche in 7 in the most exciting series we have ever possibly seen.
Eastern Conference: Tampa Bay Lightning vs New York Rangers
This series is the exact opposite of the Western Conference. We’ve got possibly the greatest goaltending matchup of all time. Andrei Vasilevskiy vs Igor Shesterkin. Sure, there are some offensive superstars in this series. But these teams know how to shut it down when taking a lead and I expect it will be a very tight series unlike the run n gun series in the west.
Vasilevskiy has proven that he is the most clutch goalie in the world and maybe ever. He has a 17-0 record in the playoffs after a loss since 2020 and is currently 7-0 with 6 shutouts in his last 7 close out games… THESE TWO STATS ARE THE MOST INSANE STATS I’VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE. It would be like saying Justin Verlander has thrown 6 shut outs in his last 7 games in the playoffs. Absolutely absurd run he’s on.
Igor Shesterkin just had one of the best seasons a goalie has ever had. Being nominated for the Hart (MVP) is difficult feat in itself for a goalie as we haven’t seen that happen in quite a while. The last time a goalie won the Hart Trophy was in 2015 as Carey Price had an unbelievable season that year. Igor’s numbers almost mirror Price’s from his season. The only thing that is probably stopping him from winning is the fact that there’s a 60-goal scorer this year in Austin Matthews and that hasn’t happened in 10 years.
Both of these teams are committed to playing team defense. Tampa has the higher star power, but New York is a young up and coming team that will be dangerous for quite a while. But when you put these two teams up against each other, I just think Tampa is better throughout the lineup and has the experience as they are back-to-back champions.
They have the best forward in Nikita Kucherov, the best defenseman in Victor Hedman, and the best goalie (maybe not this year but overall, he’s the best). And once they get a lead, they completely shut down the neutral zone and do not give up that lead when it comes to crunch time. I don’t see New York overcoming these factors. In fact, I don’t see anybody getting through Tampa, and have them going back-to-back-to-back. DO NOT BET AGAINST TAMPA. This could very well be the greatest team of all time.
I think it will be Lightning in 5.