Our 2012 Stanley Cup Predictions
It's opening night. What better time than now to make our Stanley Cup predictions?
The Bruins will be the first repeat champs since the late 90s Detroit Red Wings. The team lost so little in the off-season. Mark Recchi's departure can't help, but the young core has already had the benefit of his experience and it's time for some younger legs. Tim Thomas isn't getting any younger, and it's doubtful he'll have the career-season he did last year, but it wasn't a fluke year. He's been solid for a seasons now, and as long as the Bruins rest him enough, he'll prove to be a great backstop.
The Blackhawks were very smart in the off-season. If you win the Cup and lose elements of your team and don't do as well the next season, what do you? Get them back. They might not be the same players, but they are the same pieces.
It should be a great series with the Bruins taking out the Hawks in a close one.
Last year, the defence was too thin for the Sharks; the addition of Brent Burns is huge. He'll put up career numbers this year and help take the load off of Dan Boyle. Their top 6 might be the best in the league. San Jose has done enough to get to the next level.
I bought into the Washington hype in the last year, only for them to be swept by Tampa Bay. So much talent, yet they couldn't make it happen when it counted. The guys they've added to their bottom 6 will help that, but the signing of the offseason was Tomas Vokoun. He's consistently put up great numbers on not-so-great teams. Vokoun will show why he's one of the best goaltenders in the league.
With Evgeni Malkin healthy again and Sidney Crosby improving all the time, the Penguins have a major boost to the offence. If Marc-Andre Fleury can put in some solid performances at the other end of the ice, the cup could be heading to Pittsburgh.
The Hawks learned that they didn't have enough depth and grit to get through the entire year, and what did they do? They re-loaded with veteran, skilled, reliable, proven toughness. I love seeing Sean O'Donnell sign with Chicago, along with Jamal Mayers, providing veteran penalty-killing support; and of course the addition of trouble-making expert, Daniel Carcillo.
There is little to no drop off in talent with the Bruins from last year. The core of the team is returning and all of their toughness is coming back, which, coupled with their offense, proved too much for most teams last year. Tim Thomas is a top-3 goaltender and Tyler Seguin's progression could be something amazing to see given the talent around him.
In the end, I see these two Original Six teams battling in a rough, grueling seven-game set with the Hawks pulling out a close game seven win.
Drop your predictions below.