Sports Mockery 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Staff Predictions

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Members of the Chicago Blackhawks pose for pictures as they celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final series on Monday, June 15, 2015, in Chicago. The Blackhawks defeated the Lightning 2-0 to win the series 4-2. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Finally, at long last the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs have arrived and will begin Wednesday night.

It’s been a winding and surprisingly great regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks overcame a bumpy acclimation period for some of their new youngsters and managed to finish atop the Western Conference with 109 points. Their 50-23-9 record was also good for the second-best regular-season in franchise history. Who would’ve saw that coming?

But of course, the Blackhawks aren’t judged by regular-season accomplishments and accolades. The real season stretches from mid-April to hopefully June. The Hawks are in a great spot to win their fourth Stanley Cup in eight seasons, an incredible feat during the NHL’s ridiculously stingy salary cap era.

However, the road won’t be easy. They’ll first have to get past the emerging Nashville Predators and then another Central Division rival before battling the top team out of the Pacific just to get to the Stanley Cup Final. Who knows who will be awaiting them if they get there.

Will the Blackhawks make it four Stanley Cups in eight years? The Sports Mockery staff gave their playoff picks below:

Matt Zawaski

Quarterfinals

Blackhawks over Predators
Blues over Wild
Flames over Ducks
Oilers over Sharks

Rangers over Canadiens
Bruins over Senators
Capitals over Maple Leafs
Penguins over Blue Jackets

Semifinals

Blackhawks over Blues
Oilers over Flames
Rangers over Bruins
Capitals over Penguins

Conference Finals

Blackhawks over Oilers
Capitals over Penguins

Stanley Cup Final Prediction

Blackhawks over Capitals

Yes call me a homer. This Blackhawks team has a ton of talent and depth. One could argue this is one of the better teams the Blackhawks have brought to the playoffs. The play of rookies will be the big question mark but with leadership like Toews, Seabrook and yes Tootoo I think the rookies will be able to perform.

My dark horse if you will is the Oilers. Any hockey fan can tell you a hot goalie can carry you far in the playoffs and the Oilers have just that. So you combine that with McJesus or McDavid and you got yourself something special.

Ovi finally has the supporting cast he needs to get him past the Penguins and I think they’ll get to the big show but fall short to the deeper, more experienced Blackhawks.

Marc-Louis Paprzyca

Quarterfinals

Blackhawks over Predators
Blues over Wild
Ducks over Flames
Sharks over Oilers

Canadiens over Rangers
Bruins over Senators
Capitals over Maple Leafs
Blue Jackets over Penguins

Semifinals

Blackhawks over Blues
Sharks over Ducks

Canadiens over Bruins
Capitals over Blue Jackets

Conference Finals

Blackhawks over Sharks

Capitals over Canadiens

Stanley Cup Final Prediction

Blackhawks over Capitals

Canada plays strong in these Stanley Cup Playoffs. Oilers take the Sharks to 7 games but experience gets them. Maple Leafs look strong but they go through the Capitals buzzsaw. Canadiens make it to the conference final but ultimately lose to the Capitals.

In an all-time great SCF the Blackhawks and Capitals go all seven games. It’s a fairly high-scoring yet great goaltending series. Crawford and Holtby battle for the Conn Smythe but Crow edges him out in game 7. He finally shuts up people who don’t think he’s elite and Blackhawks party in Chicago all summer.

Matt Barbato

Quarterfinals

Blackhawks over Predators
Wild over Blues
Ducks over Flames
Sharks over Oilers

Rangers over Canadiens
Bruins over Senators
Capitals over Maple Leafs
Penguins over Blue Jackets

Semifinals

Blackhawks over Wild
Ducks over Sharks

Rangers over Bruins
Capitals over Blue Jackets

Conference Finals

Blackhawks over Ducks

Capitals over Rangers

Stanley Cup Final

Capitals over Blackhawks

It’s been a bizarre year in sports where a bunch of teams and athletes have ended long championship droughts (from the Cubs to Sergio Garcia at The Masters). I think the theme continues with the Capitals, who are clearly the best team in hockey.

They’ll have to earn it, however. The silly NHL playoff rules will guarantee Washington faces either the second or third-best team in the Eastern Conference in the semifinal. Watch out for the Rangers, who could be dangerous and spoil Washington’s run.

As for the West, I think the Blackhawks have one of the easier roads in recent years to the final. Their first-round matchup with Nashville could be their most challenging, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Predators tripped them up in the first round. The Blues are red-hot, but Minnesota will edge them out. Nobody in the Pacific is overly threatening and Connor McDavid could carry Edmonton to the Western Conference final by himself.

The Hawks are 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final during this incredible dynasty, but they’ll run into the deeper team with the better goaltender this time. Cross another drought off the list.

Brian Foran

Quarterfinals

Blackhawks over Predators
Blues over Wild
Ducks over Flames
Sharks over Oilers

Rangers over Canadiens
Bruins over Senators
Capitals over Maple Leafs
Penguins over Blue Jackets

Semifinals

Blackhawks over Blues
Ducks over Sharks
Rangers over Bruins
Capitals over Penguins

Conference Finals

Blackhawks over Ducks
Capitals over Penguins

Stanley Cup Final Prediction

Capitals over Blackhawks

I hate to be the rain cloud lingering over every ecstatic Blackhawk fan’s parade but I don’t see round 1’s matchup against the Nashville Predators being the cake walk most others are nonchalantly viewing it as.

Nashville is a deep and dangerous team with a top line capable of carving up just about any defensive pairing in the NHL. The Pred’s top-4 defenseman are just about as stable and offensively dangerous as any in the league, as well. While I don’t think Nashville possesses the depth to pose a serious threat to the Blackhawks, the longevity and tumultuousness of the series depends on the performance of goaltender Pekka Rinne and whether or not forwards Calle Jarnkrok and perennial thorn in the Blackhawks’ side Colin Wilson are able to play. Both are dealing with lower body injuries and, as of Wednesday morning, have yet to resume skating for the Preds.

If Wilson and Jarnkrok draw back into the lineup for Nashville, I see Blackhawks prevailing in a hard-fought 6. If not, I have the Blackhawks in an easy 5 games. I feel like the Blackhawks are always hindered by rising stars – exp. Robby Fabbri, Jonathan Drouin – during the playoffs so keep a particular eye on Nashville’s Kevin Fiala during this series.

In a wider spectrum, I indeed have the Blackhawks reaching the final – knocking off St. Louis in round 2 before prevailing over Anaheim in a brutal 7 game gauntlet. What’s left of the battered Blackhawks will meet the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final where I see Ovechkin, Backstrom, Holtby and Co. finally breaking through and taking down the Blackhawks in what would be another epic 7 game series.

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Matt is a sports journalist from Chicago who has covered the NFL, NHL and college sports during his sport writing career.