NHL Writer: West Is Blackhawks Conference To Lose

Scott Ferrall, an avid Pittsburgh fan, hopes his beloved Penguins repeat as Stanley Cup champions, but it seems that everyone is picking the Washington Capitals, despite their well-documented history of coming up short in the postseason.

“I’m one of those guys, too, unfortunately,” NHL.com writer Brian Compton said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think the Penguins can; I just don’t know if they will. Without Kris Letang, it’s just going to be awfully tough. He did so much on that blue line for Pittsburgh. Can they do it? Yes. Will they do it? I think that this is finally Washington’s year.”

Washington (55-19-8) opens the playoffs against Toronto (40-27-15). Game 1 is Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.

“I think if Toronto can somehow win Game 1, that’s a series that could go longer than I think a lot of people would expect,” Compton said. “Because after that first game, you’re going to have all the media going into that Caps locker room, asking them are they ever going to get over the hump, is doubt starting to creep in – those kinds of storylines. But at the end of the day, I just think it’s going to be a reality check for the Maple Leafs. They’re going to be a really good team for a really long time, but this is a series that’s probably only going to last five games.”

In the Western Conference, meanwhile, Compton likes Chicago to reach its fourth Stanley Cup in eight seasons. Chicago (50-23-9) opens against Nashville (41-29-12) on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

“I know San Jose is the defending conference champ, but for me, it’s Chicago’s conference to lose,” Compton said. “So much experience, (Corey) Crawford’s still one of the best goalies in the league, (Jonathan) Toews is the Steve Yzerman of this generator for me – so yeah, I think it’s Chicago’s conference to lose.”

While some people feel Crawford is the best goalie in hockey, Ferrall disagrees. So does Compton.

“I think he’s pretty good, but he certainly gets some help with the guys on that blue line,” he said. “Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook – the list goes on and on. He’s a little bit of a product of the guys they have there, but he’s still a pretty darn good goalie.”

Sticking with goalies, Compton has high expectations for Braden Holtby this postseason.

“I think if the Caps get this done, I think he’s going to win the Conn Smythe,” he said. “It won’t be Ovechkin; it’ll be Braden Holtby.”

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