The Stanley Cup Playoffs have made it to the final four teams and those series are well underway. The four remaining teams have been electric so far in the playoffs and any team left deserves the Stanley Cup.
The Pittsburgh Penguins
Last year’s Stanley Cup winners are right back in the thick of it as they advanced back to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. They’ve been riding the hot hand of Marc-Andre Fleury who has turned in some impressive performances since being named the starter after Matt Murray suffered an injury. The youth movement has been real in Pitt as Jake Guentzel has been lighting the lamp on a nightly basis he’s leading the playoffs in goals with 9. Certainly helps to have some veteran experience in Malkin, Kessel and of course Crosby. Pittsburgh is tied with Ottawa right now but once the Pens figure out the trap system I imagine they will take care of the Senators and return to the Cup Finals.
The Ottawa Senators
Once again if you told me the Senators would be in the Conference finals I would have laughed at you but their team has really embraced their system of play and worked hard to aggravate other teams and take them off their game. The Sens have been spearheaded by their captain Erik Karlsson who always seems to be on the ice. Karlsson logs incredible minutes and really pushes the pace of play for his team. The surprise for me has been Bobby Ryan who had a lackluster regular season but keeps proving his worth in the playoffs. Besides those two they haven’t had any stud performances but everyone on that team is chipping in and they’re winning games because they get contributions from everywhere. Anderson has played very well in net and keeps the Senators in it on a nightly basis even if they are being outshot. The key to the Senators advancing is their system its so frustrating as an opponent when the neutral zone is clogged but it seems the Sens have mastered the technique.
The Nashville Predators
The Predators are a really great team but even still I didn’t think they would advance this far just because of the matchups they had to get here. They’ve proved me wrong every step of the way and a large part of that is their youth. Their top line has been producing night after night as Arvidsson-Johansen-Forsberg keep impressing me. The Predators defense was never in question as Subban, Josi, and Ellis are all standouts. Rinne’s play in net has been nothing short of sensational if he keeps this kind of play up I wouldn’t doubt the Predators raise the cup this year. I think the Preds will be able to get past the Ducks and into the Cup Final as long as they can shut down the red hot Ryan Getzlaf.
The Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks are riding Ryan Getzlaf right now and it seems everything he touches turns to gold. Getzlaf has 18 points and no matter who he plays with he keeps producing, he’s the key to Anaheim as he is their best player. The Ducks ned to see Corey Perry step up his game and reach that next level he’s a great goal scorer but he needs to bring those skills to the playoffs if they want to advance. The core of youth defenseman in Anaheim have been solid and have been producing in the offensive zone they need big contributions if they want to press further into the Cup Final. John Gibson has had some sub-par nights this postseason, the Ducks need him to step up and steal a game if they hope to knock Nashville out.
The Finals are winding down and a Stanley Cup Champion is soon to be crowned. So far the playoffs have been a rollercoaster if excitement and these two series have kept the action going.
Written By: Tyler Smith