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Stanley Cup Final predictions

Penguins slight favorite to win it all again among NHL Network, NHL.com experts

NHL.com @NHL

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a slight favorite to defeat the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final and repeat as champions, according to the 21 NHL.com and NHL Network experts who have made their predictions for the Cup Final.

Eleven of the 21 experts picked the Penguins, who are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 to win back-to-back championships. The other 10 went with the Predators, who are making their first trip to the Cup Final.

One thing all of the voters agreed on is that this will be a long series. Ten of the experts said the Final would go the full seven games. The other 11 said it would be decided in six.

 

[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]

 

Two players, center Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and goaltender Pekka Rinne, each drew eight votes for the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the MVP of the playoffs. Malkin leads all players in scoring with 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) during the playoffs; Rinne is first among goaltenders in wins (12), goals-against average (1.70) and save percentage (.941). Penguins center Sidney Crosby got three votes; Predators forward Filip Forsberg received the other two.

Through three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, NHL.com staff writer Mike Morreale has the best record at 11-3. Sixteen of the 21 experts tabbed the Penguins and Predators to make the Final following the second round. 

Here are the experts' picks for the Stanley Cup Final and Conn Smythe Trophy, as well as their totals through three rounds: 

 

EJ Hradek, NHL Network Analyst

Third-round record: 2-0 |  Overall record: 10-4

 

Pick: Penguins in 7

Why: Penguins are a championship group that always seems to find a way.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Video: Hradek previews Cup Final - Penguins vs. Predators

 

 

Brian Lawton, NHL Network Analyst

Third-round record: 1-1 | Overall record: 8-6

 

Pick: Penguins in 6

Why: Their ability to control the center of the ice with Malkin and Crosby along with the pressure they will be put on Nashville off the forecheck will be too much. Should be great series.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

 

 

Tony Luftman, NHL Network Host

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 9-5

 

Pick: Predators in 7

Why: The best home-ice advantage in the playoffs will earn the Predators three wins; Filip Forsberg, Pekka Rinne, and their extraordinary defensemen will get them one in Pittsburgh.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Filip Forsberg, Predators 

 

 

Michelle McMahon, NHL Network Host

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 10-4

 

Pick: Predators in 7

Why: Their belief from within is undeniable, and it's a Cinderella story to win their first-ever Stanley Cup.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Pekka Rinne, Predators

Video: Discussing the unreal performance by Pekka Rinne

 

 

Dave Reid, NHL Network Analyst

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 10-4

 

Pick: Penguins in 7

Why: Penguins have Crosby and Malkin; they will elevate their game again to carry the Penguins to their third Stanley Cup championship together.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Sidney Crosby, Penguins

 

 

Kevin Weekes, NHL Network Analyst

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 9-5

 

Pick: Predators in 6

Why: They've been the most consistent team all Stanley Cup Playoffs, their defensemen are amazing, they win in different ways.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Pekka Rinne, Predators

 

 

Arpon Basu, LNH.com Senior Managing Editor

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 10-4

 

Pick: Predators in 6

Why: Nashville's decided advantage on defense will outweigh Pittsburgh's advantage down the middle.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Filip Forsberg, Predators

Video: The dependability of Predators forward Forsberg

 

 

Amalie Benjamin, NHL.com Staff Writer

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 8-6

 

Pick: Predators in 6

Why: The Predators have built something special, and this is their year.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Pekka Rinne, Predators

 

 

Tim Campbell, NHL.com Staff Writer

Third-round record: 1-1 | Overall record: 9-5

 

Pick: Predators in 6

Why: I'm holding to my Oct. 7 prediction, a Predators Cup victory.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Pekka Rinne, Predators

 

 

Brian Compton, NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 9-5

 

Pick: Penguins in 7

Why: Predators put up a fight without injured top center Ryan Johansen, but his absence proves to be too much to overcome.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm6: Malkin backhands home own rebound

 

 

Nick Cotsonika, NHL.com Columnist

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 10-4

 

Pick: Predators in 6

Why: Nashville's defense and goaltending overcome Pittsburgh's skill.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Pekka Rinne, Predators

 

 

Matt Cubeta, Director, NHL.com International

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 9-5

 

Pick: Predators in 6

Why: Led by Roman Josi, the Predators have a big edge on defense. They also have Rinne, the best goalie on either team, playing at a level we've never seen before.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Pekka Rinne, Predators

 

 

Lisa Dillman, NHL.com Staff Writer

Third-round record: 1-1 | Overall record: 7-7

 

Pick: Predators in 7

Why: It's tough to combat Nashville's skilled and mobile defense in a long series. As Penguins forward Chris Kunitz said, "They've got four (Erik) Karlssons."

 

Conn Smythe winner: Pekka Rinne, Predators

 

 

Tom Gulitti, NHL.com Staff Writer

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 9-5

 

Pick: Penguins in 6

Why: Defending champions are on a mission to repeat, overcoming injuries and repeatedly demonstrating their resilience.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Video: Previewing the Predators-Penguins Stanley Cup Final

 

 

Adam Kimelman, NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 7-7

 

Pick: Penguins in 6

Why: Pittsburgh has too much offense for Nashville.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

 

 

Robert Laflamme, LNH.com Senior Writer

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 9-5

 

Pick: Penguins in 7

Why: Experience factor will demonstrate that defense doesn't always wins championships.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Sidney Crosby, Penguins

 

 

Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com Staff Writer

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 11-3

 

Pick: Predators in 7

Why: Nashville's mobile, skilled defensemen will prove to be the difference.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Pekka Rinne, Predators

 

 

Bill Price, NHL.com Editor-in-Chief

Third-round record: 0-2 | Overall record: 5-9

 

Pick: Penguins in 6

Why: I picked against Penguins last season, won't make same mistake again. Experience will bring them to second straight title.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Malkin hammers one-timer by Holtby

 

 

Shawn P. Roarke, NHL.com Director of Editorial

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 8-6

 

Pick: Penguins in 7

Why: The lethal combination of Crosby and Malkin at center and the significant edge in playoff experience will finally derail the magical postseason run of the Predators.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

 

 

Dan Rosen, NHL.com Senior Writer

Third-round record: 1-1 | Overall record: 8-6

 

Pick: Penguins in 7

Why: Pittsburgh's experience and resiliency will be just enough to overpower Nashville.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

 

 

Dave Stubbs, NHL.com Columnist

Third-round record: 2-0 | Overall record: 8-6

 

Pick: Penguins in 6

Why: Crosby will write another chapter in his remarkable career, proving to the Predators and everyone else why he's the greatest player in hockey.

 

Conn Smythe winner: Sidney Crosby, Penguins

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