You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

NHL playoffs: Redoing our Stanley Cup predictions after Lightning's collapse

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 4/17/2019 Kevin Allen and Jimmy Hascup and Mike Brehm and Jace Evans

Forward Mark Stone has been a key producer since the Golden Knights acquired him at the trade deadline. © Provided by USA Today Sports Media Group LLC Forward Mark Stone has been a key producer since the Golden Knights acquired him at the trade deadline. We want a redo. Think of it as that college class in which your professor allows you to throw out your worst test grade. Only this time, sure, we want to forget about that poor effort, but also want to try to get it right. We can't sleep at night knowing we failed our final exam.

That's USA TODAY Sports' NHL staff in a nutshell. All four of our panelists chose the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Stanley Cup champions. All four of us were very wrong. The Lightning were swept in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round.

Thus, here is what our resubmitted test looks like -- with new Eastern Conference winners, Stanley Cup champions and Conn Smythe nods.

Kevin Allen: East pick - Washington Capitals

Why the Capitals will win the Cup: Nine months ago they were doing keg stands with the Stanley Cup. These guys know what it takes to win it all. They won't be rattled by a loss here or there or any kind of adversity. The Caps can beat you in many different ways. The East was tougher than the West this season and the Capitals found a way to win the Metropolitan and register 104 points. They will be extra motivated to match the Penguins' feat of winning back-to-back championships.

Conn Smythe: Nicklas Backstrom

BIGGEST POSTSEASON FLOPS: Lightning aren't alone

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Jimmy Hascup: East pick - Columbus Blue Jackets

Why the Vegas Golden Knights will win the Cup: The Golden Knights are a deeper team than last season and they also know what the journey to the Stanley Cup is like after losing in it last season. Mark Stone has been a game-breaking force. He has shown why GM George McPhee traded for and then extended him as he has six goals and 10 points. Marc-Andre Fleury and his playoff experience is the tipping point for me. The other Western Conference heavyweights are not exactly plowing through their first-round series.

Conn Smythe:  Mark Stone

Mike Brehm: East pick - Capitals

Why the Capitals will win the Cup: I had Washington losing to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference final, but the Lightning are out and the Atlantic Division powerhouse Boston Bruins might not survive. Not that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets (or the New York Islanders/former Washington coach Barry Trotz in the next round) would be easy opponents, but the Capitals' depth and championship experience should carry them to the Final. I had the St. Louis Blues getting out of the West and losing to the Lightning, but can't see them beating the Capitals, either.

Conn Smythe: Nicklas Backstrom 

Jace Evans: East pick - New York Islanders

Why the Islanders will win the Cup: Little has made sense about the Stanley Cup playoffs so far, and the same can be said for this Islanders season. But if defense wins championships, no one does it better than Barry Trotz's team. The Islanders showed their league-best goal prevention in the regular season was no fluke in the first round, limiting the high-powered Penguins to just six tallies in four games while goalie Robin Lehner put up a .957 save percentage. If they can do that against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, they can slow anyone.  

Conn Smythe: Robin Lehner

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL playoffs: Redoing our Stanley Cup predictions after Lightning's collapse

Related slideshow: 2018-19 NHL Season (Provided by imagn)

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from USA Today Sports

USA TODAY SPORTS
USA TODAY SPORTS
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon