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AC Prediction Challenge 2015: Conference Finals

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Kyle isn't here to do this post in a timely manner. Sorry about it.

Part of the beauty of playoffs is that nobody really knows exactly what's going to happen. But on that same note some people are certainly better at predicting what might happen through multiple series of up to seven games each than others. That's why we here at Anaheim Calling play this prediction game every year. Now that we're halfway to the big trophy, lets check the standings at the midway mark.

Here's your midpoint Anaheim Calling staff table, plus Jer and Jen. I've added a soccer inspired third column at the end to show the movement in the table from first to second round. In the case of ties the person with more correct series length projections gets the higher slot, and then number of correct non-Ducks series length projections.

Cory Rosas

120

/\ 3

Chris

115

/\ 4

Jer (from Battle of California)

115

\/ 2

Kristen

105

/\ 3

Ben

105

N/C

Lois

105

/\ 4

Jen Neale (from Puck Daddy)

100

\/ 5

Liz Brownstein

95

\/ 5

EricTheHawk

90

\/ 1

Derek

90

\/ 1

Kyle

75

N/C

Cory rises to the top on the strength of six correct series length picks, best on staff with the next closest (ETH) having four. Lois and Chris posted the biggest gains through the second round, taking advantage of major tumbles by Jen and Liz. Kyle still is comfortably in the Wooden Spoon slot- really though he's earned it considering where the goof is during the Conference Final.

On to the reader table!

Tythanin

125

Gorbachav5

125

Eric Lamarre

125

nava22

115

Allan 'BigFinn' Allison

110

Bruin Danny

100

EA~

100

TheCheetah

90

Marty Griffin

85

John Ristuccia, therealjasonsiders

80

We had three readers hit the bonus question of 'How many power plays will there be in the Blackhawks-Wild series', with ThatBirdo, Fraser Hood, and Tythanin all nailing 17 nose on, so congratulations are in due order!

It's now a three-way deadlock at the top with Tythanin riding that bonus shot, while Gorbachav5 and Eric Lamarre (who has a really smart first name) continue to put up mirror solid results to lead the whole. Allan 'BigFinn' Allison remains in the discussion despite not submitting picks for round two, with Marty Griffin, John Ristuccia and therealjasonsiders also still holding spots with similar circumstance. Finally, shoutout to Braden Explosion, who got 55 of a possible 60 pick points in the round; the only series he didn't get the correct number of games in was Chicago's sweep.

Conference Finals time! Lets see the picks.

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

BONUS

Kyle

Rangers in 7

Ducks in 7

81

Liz

Lightning in 6

Ducks in 7

172

Ben

Rangers in 6

Ducks in 7

177

Jer from BoC

Lightning in 6

Ducks in 7

165

Cory

Rangers in 6

Ducks in 6

135

Chris

Lightning in 6

Blackhawks  in 7

160

Lois

--

--

--

Derek

Lightning in 7

Ducks in 7

188

Eric

Rangers in 7

Blackhawks in 6

194

Kristen

Rangers in 7

Blackhawks in 6

195

Jen Neale

Lightning in 7

Blackhawks in 7

--

This round's bonus question: How many saves will Ben Bishop make in the Eastern Conference Final?

Eastern Conference Final

Since the wipeout lockout of 2005 the Rangers have been a perennial playoff contender (save for a shootout loss on the last day of the season steeling them out in 09-10), and now have made the Eastern Final for the third time in four seasons. A year removed from watching the number two media market's team take the trophy from them in overtime of game five, New York is once again in position to earn the opportunity to reclaim the chalice for the first time since Mark Messier forever shut up chants of '19-40' 21 years ago. Opposing is a sun belt squad that amassed a wealth of young scoring talent, put together by a three-time Stanley Cup champion legend from another Original Six side, looking to rise and reclaim what Dave Andreychuk triumphantly hoisted in 2004.

It's the Martin St. Louis Derby if you will, as Tampa Bay and New York meet for the first time in the playoffs just over a year removed from the former Lightning captain's demand and subsequent reception of a trade to Broadway. The Presidents Trophy winning Rangers needed just five games to put out a defensively diminished Penguins team, then for the second year in a row rallied from a 1-3 series deficit to again be the Lucy to the Washington Capitals Charlie Brown with Henrik Lundqvist further cementing his game seven legend. For the Lightning it was a seven game thriller with a comeback of their own in round one, taking game six in general manager Steve Yzerman's playing grounds of Detroit, then stopping of a Canadiens reverse-sweep attempt with a home ice win in game six to punch their ticket to the Conference Final for the first time since 10-11.

-"The Rangers are riding some pretty strong confidence and Hank continues to be stupid good at home in game 7's so yeah really only one way this will go." - Kyle
-"Martin St. Louis has made a huge mistake." - Jer
-"Lundqvist has been making his case as best goalie to never win a Cup for so many years that it would be a shame for him to blow it now." - Ben
-"Rangers are battle tested, and have personnel to play multiple different styles of games. Feels like Lightning are close, but need a 'process loss' much like NYR had in '12 Eastern Final to learn how to win this late is postseason." - Eric

Western Conference Final

For the first time in playoff history the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks square off, finally giving the hockey word the Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry vs Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane match it so richly deserves. Some aren't quite sure how to take it. The Ducks hope the offseason acquisition of Ryan Kesler will eventually be looked back at in a similar vein as the impact that Marian Hossa had in helping put a rising Chicago side over the top in 2010, the final piece to push the club in to the echelon of the elite. With a cap crunch in the offing thanks to massive money deals for their two superstars next season, this looks to be the final ride of the Blackhawks as currently comported.

The path for each team to make the Conference Final was remarkably short, with the Ducks blowing through wild card Winnipeg in four and then taking five to snuff out the Flames. Chicago weathered early goaltending issues to take out the Predators in six, then washed out the Wild in four straight. Each Conference Final has that flavor of established power against insurgent up and comer, with just the Hawks holding the recent pedigree of champion. With both sides rested in the West, several Olympians in the arsenal each way, and the chance to secure a dynasty on one end or the opportunity to ascend to that elite level for the other, it promises to be a series to remember.

-"Ricky Etem Cakes will save us all." - Cory
-"(Blackhawks) depth scoring far outweighs the Ducks, who will put up a fight, but ultimate fall due to their inability to win Game 7 at home" - Jen
-"Timonen and Rundblad for MVP." - Derek
-"Deja vu from the Kings series last year." - Chris