Thursday, May 23, 2024

Who will win the Stanley Cup? Predictions for NHL playoffs bracket

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The only thing predictable about the Stanley Cup playoffs is that they’re unpredictable.

Last year, the Boston Bruins were a popular pick to win the Stanley Cup after finishing with a record 65 wins and 135 points. But they blew a 3-1 series lead in the first round and were shocked by the second wild-card seed Florida Panthers, who got to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights.

So what could happen this postseason?

USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Brehm and Jace Evans provide their predictions for the Stanley Cup Final teams, the NHL champion and the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP.

Mike Brehm

Stanley Cup Final: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Dallas Stars

Champion: Hurricanes

Conn Smythe: Jake Guentzel

Both of these teams got to the conference final last season and didn’t advance. But their additions make them deeper and better able to get to the championship round. Guentzel is a point-a-game player in the playoffs and has been a highly productive player after moving at the trade deadline.

Jace Evans

Stanley Cup Final: Florida Panthers vs. Edmonton Oilers

Champion: Oilers

Conn Smythe: Connor McDavid

The Panthers are a better team than the group that lost in the Stanley Cup Final last year, and that’s even with Matthew Tkachuk posting his lowest shooting percentage since his rookie season. Him getting hot is a scary thought for teams. But I think they fall in the Final to the Oilers. McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been knocking on the door for years now and I think they finally kick it down in emphatic fashion.

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