It’s here, it’s here! It’s Stanley Cup Final morning!

At this point most people are aware that a monkey is only slightly less adept (though occasionally more) and predicting the outcome of playoff hockey series than “experts,” but whatever, we’re gonna swing at another pitch here and hope to hit one out of the park.

We have had some shining moments from the crew though this playoff season – I managed a positive record, Cam Charron called the Kings success (boldly predicting them to beat his President’s Trophy winning team, the Canucks, in six games), and Ms. Conduct predicted “mutual destruction” in the Flyers/Penguins series, which was the most bang-on call of any expert out there.

We’ve all got our reasons why (I’ll lay mine out below), but here’s what the Backhand Shelf crew sees coming over the next two weeks:

Humans Winner Games Conn Smythe
 Justin Bourne  Kings 7  Quick
Ellen Etchingham  Kings 6 Kopitar
Cam Charron  Kings 5 Quick
Daniel Wagner  Devils 6 Kovalchuk
 Ms. Conduct  Devils 6  Brodeur
Joseph Casciaro  Kings 6 Quick
Chris Lund  Devils 6 Parise
Jo Innes  Kings 7 Quick
Ryan Lambert  Kings 6 Quick

Personal explanation:

I think the Kings combination of youth and rest are going to make a big difference later in this series. It’ll allow them to maintain their energy on the forecheck, win some crucial battles, and just generally out-work the League’s oldest team, New Jersey.

I was closer to picking the Kings in 6 than Devils in 7 for another reason: I think at this stage of their respective careers, Jonathan Quick is head-and-shoulders better than Martin Brodeur, and any weak goal allowed can suck the life out of your team, who’s been battling for every inch. We saw one center ice bomb go in on Quick, but other than that he’s been an absolute wall. As Brodeur’s gotten older he’s started to look a little less…consistent.

(I won’t fault him for the game-tying goal, but that Eric Staal shot? Ugh.)

The Devils pure talent and their forecheck should make it a fast, interesting series though. They certainly aren’t pushovers, I think LA just has too much going for them this year to lose.

Of Note:

* Seven votes for the Kings, three for the Devils, and the only guy who doesn’t think the series is going all that long is Cam Charron. If Cam’s right, and the Kings just plow through New Jersey as they have everyone else, that will have been one mighty impressive playoff run.

* Wagner did a last-minute flip-flop on his picks, and I like where he’s headed. Right now you can get fairly good odds on Ilya Kovalchuk to win the Conn Smythe (5.5-1 on bodog.ca). I also like Joseph Casciaro’s against-the-grain pick because I’m pretty sure Zach Parise (12-1 odds) is going to have a monster series – if the Devils win, he’ll have been a huge part of it.

* Five Quick-picks (like the lottery!) for the Conn Smythe, making him the Backhand Shelf favourite. If you read the post on his playoff numbers by Casciaro this morning, you’ll understand why.

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Well, here we go hockey fans! Everything is back on schedule here at the site here too – we’ll have a podcast posted later today, and the “Noteworthy” posts will resume the day after games. Enjoy.