DETROIT – Toronto Blue Jays first base coach Tim Leiper is on a nice little run with his NHL playoff predictions.
He went 4-4 in the first round but has picked it up since, going 3-1 in the second round and 2-0 in the conference finals. At 9-5, Leiper has moved past Mark Buehrle, who went 6-2 in the opening round but 2-2 in the second round and 0-2 in the conference finals for a cumulative mark of 8-6.
So who does Leiper like in the Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings?
“I’m sticking with Kings. They’re my team,” says the native of Whittier, Calif.
Buehrle agrees, and this time his judgment isn’t being clouded by his rooting interests. A fan of the St. Louis Blues, he picked them in the opening round over the Blackhawks even though deep down he felt Chicago would win. Then in the last round he picked the Blackhawks, a team he supported while pitching for the White Sox, even though he was wary of the Kings.
“I haven’t picked the Rangers at all, but for me whoever won Kings-Blackhawks is going to win it all,” says Buehrle. “The Rangers are on fire right now, they’re the hottest team, but the Kings have good goaltending.”
Josh Thole and Brett Cecil disagree, both predicting the Rangers will win their first Cup since 1994.
Thole went 4-0 in the second round and then 1-1 in the conference finals, although he did call a Kings win in Game 7 after initially picking Chicago to win the series.
“I’m all in on the Rangers,” he says. “Going into the Stanley Cup on a shutout (1-0 in Game 6 over the Montreal Canadiens)? That’s huge.”
Cecil, 4-4 in the first round, wants to see the Rangers win, even though he’s a dedicated Washington Capitals fan.
“They’re riding that whole Martin St. Louis wave,” he says. “I love Marty, I met him when he was still with Tampa, he’s a great dude and I hope for the best for him. It would be an awesome story.”