There may not be a lot of “favorites’’ still left standing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that certainly hasn’t detracted from the level of excitement on a nightly basis.
Game 7s all over the place, with overtimes thrown in for good measure. How crazy is it when two teams go to sudden death knowing it’s score-or-go-home?
On top of that, you’ve got unsung heroes like Carolina 35-year-old journeyman goaltender Curtis McElhinney coming out of the woodwork.
And what about this heading into the conference finals: Two ex-Flyers – St. Louis coach Craig Berube and Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour – are still in the hunt.
Imagine the possibilities: If Brind’Amour’s squad goes all the way, that would make it four straight Stanley Cups for the Metro Division. If Berube’s club pulls off the miracle, it would give the Blues their first Cup in team history dating back to 1967.
Here’s how we see the conference finals:
**Boston Bruins** vs. ** Carolina Hurricanes:** While Brind’Amour’s outfit deserves all the best, the Bruins look like the favorite to win this series, at least on paper.
Tuukka Rask’s goaltending was a big reason why Boston was able to get past upstart Columbus and if he continues his strong play, it could make the difference.
The Hurricanes do have a lot of momentum going for them, particularly after knocking off the defending champion Washington Capitals and sweeping the Islanders in four straight.
Never count out a team with Justin Williams on it and the supporting cast is making a name for itself.
However, Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is in fine form right now and will be hard to stop. **Boston in six games.**
**San Jose Sharks** vs. **St. Louis Blues:** If not for a goofy major penalty on Vegas in Game 7 of the opening round, the Sharks might not even be here.
That said, the Sharks look like a hungry team, getting balanced scoring and extra offense from defensemen Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson.
The Blues showed what they were made of in a tough seven-game series win over Dallas, with St. Louis rookie goalie Jordan Binnington leading the way.
Berube’s bunch plays an attacking style which could give the Sharks some trouble. Plus, they play better on the road and that’s where this series could be decided. **St. Louis in seven.**