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Conference Final Picks

by Michael Finewax

Well, it was another great second round in the Stanley Cup playoffs as it was possible that all four wild card teams could advance. Only one did (Carolina) but Columbus, Dallas and Colorado gave great efforts in attempting to advance but ultimately fell short.

With that, here is how everyone at Rotoworld.com did in the second round.

Michael Finewax – 1-3 Overall 5-7

Ryan Dadoun – 2-2 Overall 4-8

Daniel Dobish – 3-1 Overall 7-5

Brian Rosenbaum – 1-3 Overall 4-8

Joey Alfieri – 2-2 Overall 4-8

Corey Abbott - 4-0 Overall 7-5

Julian MacKenzie – 2-2 Overall 3-9

Jeffrey Alfieri – 0-4 Overall 3-9

Domenico D’Amato – 0-4 Overall 2-10

Gus Katsaros – 3-1

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Michael Finewax

Boston over Carolina in six games.

San Jose over St. Louis in seven games.

The Bruins have been getting some offense from their bottom three lines as well as their top one of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. The loss to suspension of Charlie McAvoy for one game will hurt but not enough to enable the upstart Carolina Hurricanes to take the series. Carolina has been getting outstanding goaltending from both Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney and it will keep them in the series. It should be interesting to see how former Bruin Dougie Hamilton plays against his one-time teammates. The Sharks and Blues are coming off tough seven game series and I see the home-ice advantage of San Jose being the deciding factor in picking the Sharks to win. St. Louis continues to get great goaltending from rookie Jordan Binnington while the Sharks finally received some clutch netminding from Martin Jones in defeating Colorado. This series could go into overtime in Game 7, as that is how close these two teams are.

Ryan Dadoun

Boston over Carolina in seven games.

San Jose over St. Louis in seven games.
Well, the Bruins beat one surprising story in the Columbus Blue Jackets, so now we'll see if they can beat another in Carolina. I expect to pull it off.  They're a veteran team with a hot goaltender and plenty of offensive weapons. The Sharks remain my pick to win the Stanley Cup.  Though I feel the Blues went into the playoffs somewhat underrated, I think they've met their match here.  The Sharks have more depth, star power, and a stronger defense.  The big question mark in San Jose is goaltender Martin Jones, but he's coming off a solid Round 2 so perhaps the Sharks are even fine there.

Daniel Dobish

Boston over Carolina in six games

St. Louis over San Jose in seven games

I live in the Raleigh, N.C. area, and it's hard not to feel 'jerky' and be a 'front-runner', per Grapes. These boys have risen to levels no one expected during the season and these playoffs. The winner of the Blue Jackets-Bruins series made a huge difference, as Columbus would've given Carolina home-ice advantage, and a huge advantage it is. Now, they have to go to Beantown for a majority of their games, and it won't end well. But, no matter how the season ends, with a trip to the Cup Finals, hoisting the grail, or ending right here, these young Hurricanes have made Raleigh a hockey town again, and it's a great time to be here. The Blues have been doing it and doing it well. I thought Jordan Binnington would fold in these playoffs, or at least take a step back, but he has outdueled the likes of Connor Hellebuyck and Ben Bishop to get to this point, proving that he is now officially elite. Hopefully he continues on this path and isn't the next Jim Carey or Blaine Lacher. He has shut down some elite offense, and he'll have to do it again in the Western Conference Final, but I am confident that the Blues have the right mix of scoring, defense and netminding to make a run for their first-ever Stanley Cup. What a story that would be!

Brian Rosenbaum

Boston over Carolina in six games

St. Louis over San Jose in seven games

Part of me believes that the Hurricanes are a team of destiny based on how they've eliminated the Islanders and the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals. That said, a bigger part of me thinks the Bruins are the superior team. They have higher end forwards in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak than the Hurricanes and Tuukka Rask was exceptional in the series win against the Blue Jackets. This will be a very close series but is there any team playing better than the Blues right now? St. Louis has plenty of firepower up front in Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz and have some big mobile defensemen in Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayako. But the real secret to the Blues' success is the spectacular goaltending of calm rookie Jordan Binnington. Sharks' goalie Martin Jones is coming off a fine performance against the Avalanche and the Sharks have the best one-two punch on the blueline in Erik Karlsson and Brett Burns, but it won't be enough to defeat a very hot Blues squad despite the fact that every San Jose player would love to get Jumbo Joe Thornton a Stanley Cup before he hangs them up. 

Joey Alfieri

Boston over Carolina in Columbus in six games

San Jose over St. Louis in seven games

The Bruins didn't have an easy time with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round, but once they started getting production from Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak they quickly took over the series. Also, Tuukka Rask has arguably been the best goalie in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so Carolina will have their work cut out for them in that sense, too. I don't want to ignore what Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney have done for the 'Canes, but Rask is on another level right now. The Blues have been the best story in the NHL this season. They went from last place on Jan. 2 to now being in the Western Conference Final. But in my mind, the Sharks are deeper up front, deeper on the blue line and although Martin Jones struggled all season and early on in the playoffs, he's found a way to get his game back on track. 

Julian McKenzie

Boston over Carolina in six games

San Jose over St. Louis in seven games 

The Hurricanes have shown us that they can fight with great teams in these playoffs, so it's not out of the realm that they can take games off the Bruins. But the Bruins have shown they can roll through good teams and get production from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Tuukka Rask may make the difference in this series.  Both San Jose and St. Louis have been great this postseason and I believe they'll go to seven games, but the edge goes to the more battle tested Sharks. I think Tomas Hertl's brilliant postseason continues in round three as he makes his case for the Conn Smythe. 

Corey Abbott

Boston over Carolina in six games 
St. Louis over San Jose in six games 

Carolina has surprised me the most during this postseason.  I picked them in Round 2 to defeat the Islanders, but I certainly didn't envision it being a sweep, especially with injuries piling up.  Having said that, I like the Bruins to keep rolling in this series.  Boston's experience, strong special teams play and the excellence that has been Rask should get them back to the Stanley Cup Final.  San Jose was my pick at the beginning of the season to be in the Stanley Cup Final, but I'm going with the Blues in this series.  By the end of playing against St. Louis in Round 1 it looked like Winnipeg had nothing left and then it looked like Dallas had nothing left either in Game 7 of Round 2.  It's not hard to see a trend developing and San Jose has already played in two rounds this postseason that have gone the distance.  That ability should serve the Blues well and I see their hot play continuing.      

Jeffrey Alfieri

Boston over Carolina in six games

St. Louis over San Jose in seven games

It doesn’t appear that the NHL playoffs take kindly to teams that sweep their opposition in the previous round. Both the Hurricanes and Brad Marchand have gotten the reputation as being ‘jerks’ recently, shaping this one into a battle of the jerks. Boston’s experience ends up being too much for Carolina. St. Louis’ Cinderella story continues as they’ll advance to the Stanley Cup Final after being dead last in the league midway through the season. I think they’ll be able to exploit the holes exposed by both the Golden Knights and the Avalanche, taking advantage of a Sharks team that has gone the distance in back-to-backs series. 

Domenico D’Amato

Carolina over Boston in 6

St. Louis over San Jose in 7

The Hurricanes have won six consecutive games and have yet to lose at home during these playoffs. Meanwhile, the Bruins have more or less split their games at the Garden. If Carolina could win one of the first two games in Boston, they should be able to move on to the Stanley Cup Final. Both teams have found ways to win key games through the first two rounds, however the Blues were able to defeat a good defensive team with a hot goaltender to get to this point. In addition, the Sharks have at times been sloppy with the puck, which could mean trouble versus St. Louis.

Gus Katsaros

Carolina over Boston in six games

St. Louis over San Jose in seven games

Carolina and Boston will be a battle of special teams. The club with better PP/PK will win this series. The St. Louis-San Jose series is a bit of a toss up because San Jose is strong and beat the Avalanche without Pavelski. Still, the Blues have been fantastic since January and should win this series too.

How we see it

Boston 8 Carolina 2

St. Louis 6 San Jose 4

Enjoy!

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 14th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.