Question of the day: Who will play in the Stanley Cup finals? [Updated]
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun
Last season, I had the Anaheim Ducks and the Philadelphia Flyers in the final because of the Chris Pronger trade. I thought it strengthened both teams. I wasn’t very high on the Chicago Blackhawks. At least the Flyers were there.
This offseason, there hasn’t been a trade or signing that will affect a team like Pronger to the Flyers. So I like the Vancouver Canucks to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final. The Canucks are loaded at forward, have a strong defense and Robert Luongo in net. The Penguins upgraded their defense, still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin up front and a Cup-winning goalie, Marc-André Fleury, in net.
I love what the Flyers did in adding more beef to the defense, but trading Simon Gagne will hurt up front, and they might have less goaltending than last season, if that’s possible. So the Canucks will be drinking Molson out of the Cup, or the Penguins will be hoisting it filled with Iron City.
[Updated at 11:54 a.m.:
Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times
The cardinal rule of NHL forecasting is never pick the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup. They've been a popular selection the last few seasons, but they’ve tripped themselves up every spring -- and this one won't be an exception.
The Vancouver Canucks seem to be the consensus pick in the West, but their lack of team toughness leaves them vulnerable. The Kings are a scoring winger and productive second-line center from contending, though they have assets to trade to fill those holes. The Blackhawks will miss the gritty role players they had to dump in order to get under the salary cap. The Detroit Red Wings, who came on strong after overcoming injuries last season, could grab one last moment of glory.
The East is crazily unbalanced, with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins way ahead of everyone else. If the Caps could protect fragile goalie Semyon Varlamov in bubble wrap, they would win the conference. Because they can't, the Penguins will nose them out.
Harvey Fialkov, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Because no team has repeated as Stanley Cup champion since the Red Wings 14 years ago, that eliminates the Blackhawks, who have been gutted by salary-cap dumps since hoisting their first silver chalice since 1961. The Bruins added Nathan Horton and rookie stud Tyler Seguin to bolster a comatose offense, but they're still shocked from last year’s semifinal choke. The "Price," and karma, isn't right in Montreal for ditching goalie Jaroslav Halak for unproven Carey Price. The aging Red Wings stood pat after a second-round ousting.
Losing in the first round to Montreal was a Capital offense for Alexander Ovechkin and Co., so, driven by anger, Washington won't have to go far to visit the president after downing the improving Vancouver Canucks and goalie Roberto Luongo in seven for the Caps' first Cup.]
Photo: Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby kisses the Stanley Cup and celebrates with his teammates in 2009. Credit: Luc Leclerc / US Presswire