It didn't go all that bad for me in the second round, but this one will hurt a bit, if only because two of my three favourite goalies will likely bite the dust and see their playoff run stop in the Conference Finals. Not that there's any shame in losing at this point, because all four teams that are left are very strong contenders.
I don't usually pick teams who ruled the regular season to go far in the playoffs, but this time, it's hard to bet against the two teams with the most effective weapons.
Eastern Conference Finals:
New York Rangers versus Tampa Bay Lightning:
This is where my third-fave goalie (Ben Bishop) almost plays equal to the best in the world (Henrik Lundqvist), but falls just short; it's also where the Triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov gets shut down by the deepest blue line in the league, with Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Dan Boyle, Keith Yandle and Kevin Klein.And the Rangers have a more balanced offense, if only because a few of their top guns (Rick Nash, Martin Saint-Louis) are under-achieving. Derick Brassard is up to par, though.
Rangers in 6.
Western Conference Finals:
Anaheim Ducks versus Chicago Blackhawks:
I know, I know: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford. All multiple-time winners, super-clutch performers, among the best in the world at what they do. Joel Quenneville as the coach who gives them an added edge, the third winningest of all time, with the winningest (Scotty Bowman) serving as an adviser.
But on the otehr hand, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry seem like an unstoppable bruising-and-scoring machine.
My initial thought was that the Hawks would win this with their depth (Patrick Sharp, Brad Richards) or even annoyance (Dan Carcillo), but I really feel like coach Bruce Boudreau will play his Twins for 40 minutes per game if he needs to, and if anything, that will bring us to a Game 7, where anything can happen.
Ducks in 7.