The more things change; the more they stay the same. Such is the case with the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Finals. Plenty has happened over the last ten years in the playoffs but plenty has stayed the same and with the exception of the Nashville Predators making the Western Conference Final for the first time in franchise history, there is plenty of familiarity in the NHL’s Frozen Four this spring.
In 2007, the Ottawa Senators hoisted the Prince Of Wales Trophy and represented the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. In the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks raised the Campbell Trophy and went on to represent the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup, where they would eventually hoist Lord Stanley, beating the Senators in five games. Now ten years later, the Senators have become the Cinderella team of the Eastern Conference again making the conference final for the first time since that magical run in 2007, and the Ducks are knocking on the door again in the West, playing in their second Western Conference Final in the last three seasons after losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games in 2015. Could the Ducks and Sens meet in the Final again?
The Pittsburgh Penguins will be playing in the Eastern Conference Final for the fifth time since 2007 and are looking to become the second team to win two consecutive conference titles since they and the Red Wings did it in 2008 and 2009, as well as the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.
One could definitely say that the Predators are the Cinderella darlings of the playoffs and definitely the West coming in as a eighth seed, but when you watch this team over the last six weeks, you have to wonder how they were an eighth seed? They have a defense that like no other in recent memory has the perfect blend of stay at home and push the offense type style. They have an elite goalie in Pekka Renne and a balanced forwards corps but yet they are the only team that hasn’t made it this far in he last ten seasons nor in the history of the organization.
So will we have a repeat of 2007 but with the Senators taking the Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993? Will the Ducks veteran core finally reach their potential? Will the Penguins get the chance to repeat? Or will the best team in the playoffs thus far (8-2), the Predators get a chance to bring the Stanley Cup Final to Dixie and continue the party in Smashville? Here’s my 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final predictions and since we love our “Puck Rocks” here, a song to accompany each series that has a connection to the predicted winners.
Predators over Ducks in 6 — A defense that has accounted for nine goals and 27 points and arguably the best goalie left in the playoffs. Cannot wait to not only see Broadway in Nashville during the Stanley Cup Final, but also during a potential parade! P.K. Subban, who under the guise of that defensive depth in Nashville, has been sneaky good thus far, finally gets his chance to play for Lord Stanley after to conference final losses with the team that thought he was a distraction.
Penguins over Senators in 7 — For me, Erik Karlsson has been the best and most exciting player in the playoffs thus far and is my Conn Smythe frontrunner right now. But while the Norris Trophy candidate is playing like Superman, his heel injury and whatever else is ailing him will be exposed by the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Penguins showed the heart of a champion holding on and beating the Capitals in Game 7 in Washington. My current Conn Smythe runner-up, Marc-Andre Fleury has looked like the 2009 Flower. He will continue what could be his swan-song with the Penguins, carrying them into a final I know every puck scribe covering the playoffs would love for travel, dining and party reasons!
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) July 17, 2016