Sportsnet Stanley Cup Playoff predictions

The Hockey Central panel presents their Stanley Cup playoff predictions, showing a surprising amount of unity as far as who they feel will dominate the East and the West, if still split on who will reign as champions.

The 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to start Wednesday night with four games on the schedule. You can bet there will be an upset or two along the way, but picking where those upsets will come is the tricky part.

Seven teams that failed to qualify for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs got back into the tournament this year. And for the first time since 2004, five Canadian teams are being represented. Meanwhile, last year’s Stanley Cup champion is out, as are the 2014 Presidents’ Trophy winners, so the field is wide open. Parity rules in 2015.

We polled Sportsnet writers and analysts for their first round predictions, Stanley Cup finalist and champion and who they think will take home the Conn Smythe at the end of it all. Check out their picks below.

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NICK KYPREOS
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers
Canadiens-Senators: Senators
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning
Capitals-Islanders: Capitals
Ducks-Jets: Jets
Blues-Wild: Wild
Flames-Canucks: Flames
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks
Stanley Cup finalist: Winnipeg Jets
Stanley Cup champion: New York Rangers

ELLIOTTE FRIEDMAN
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers
Canadiens-Senators: Senators
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning
Capitals-Islanders: Capitals
Ducks-Jets: Jets
Blues-Wild: Wild
Flames-Canucks: Canucks
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks
Stanley Cup finalist: New York Rangers
Stanley Cup champion: Chicago Blackhawks
Conn Smythe Trophy: Patrick Kane

MARK SPECTOR
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers in 5
Canadiens-Senators: Senators in 7
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning in 6
Capitals-Islanders: Capitals in 7
Ducks-Jets: Jets in 7
Blues-Wild: Blues in 6
Flames-Canucks: Flames in 7
Blackhawks-Predators: Predators in 6
Stanley Cup finalist: St. Louis Blues
Stanley Cup champion: New York Rangers
Conn Smythe Trophy: Henrik Lundqvist

CHRIS JOHNSTON
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers in 4
Canadiens-Senators: Senators in 7
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning in 5
Capitals-Islanders: Islanders in 6
Ducks-Jets: Jets in 6
Blues-Wild: Blues in 7
Flames-Canucks: Canucks in 7
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks in 6
Stanley Cup finalist: Tampa Bay Lightning
Stanley Cup champion: St. Louis Blues
Conn Smythe Trophy: Vladimir Tarasenko

DAMIEN COX
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers in 5
Canadiens-Senators: Canadiens in 7
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning in 6
Capitals-Islanders: Capitals in 6
Ducks-Jets: Jets in 6
Blues-Wild: Wild in 7
Flames-Canucks: Flames in 6
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks in 7
Stanley Cup finalist: Minnesota Wild
Stanley Cup champion: Tampa Bay Lightning
Conn Smythe Trophy: Steven Stamkos

DAN MURPHY
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers in 6
Canadiens-Senators: Senators in 7
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning in 5
Capitals-Islanders: Capitals in 6
Ducks-Jets: Ducks in 7
Blues-Wild: Wild in 7
Flames-Canucks: Canucks in 7
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks in 6
Stanley Cup finalist: Tampa Bay Lightning
Stanley Cup champion: Chicago Blackhawks
Conn Smythe Trophy: Patrick Kane

GORD STELLICK
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers in 5
Canadiens-Senators: Canadiens in 6
Lightning-Red Wings: Red Wings in 6
Capitals-Islanders: Capitals in 7
Ducks-Jets: Ducks in 6
Blues-Wild: Blues in 5
Flames-Canucks: Flames in 7
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks in 6
Stanley Cup finalist: Montreal Canadiens
Stanley Cup champion: Anaheim Ducks
Conn Smythe Trophy: Ryan Getzlaf

LUKE FOX
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers in 4
Canadiens-Senators: Senators in 7
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning in 5
Capitals-Islanders: Capitals in 5
Ducks-Jets: Jets in 7
Blues-Wild: Blues in 6
Flames-Canucks: Flames in 7
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks in 6
Stanley Cup finalist: Chicago Blackhawks
Stanley Cup champion: New York Rangers
Conn Smythe Trophy: Henrik Lundqvist

ERIC ENGELS
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers in 6
Canadiens-Senators: Canadiens in 7
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning in 7
Capitals-Islanders: Islanders in 7
Ducks-Jets: Ducks in 7
Blues-Wild: Wild in 7
Flames-Canucks: Flames in 7
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks in 7
Stanley Cup finalist: Montreal Canadiens
Stanley Cup champion: Chicago Blackhawks
Conn Smythe Trophy: Carey Price

THOMAS DRANCE
Rangers-Penguins: Rangers in 7
Canadiens-Senators: Senators in 7
Lightning-Red Wings: Lightning in 5
Capitals-Islanders: Islanders in 6
Ducks-Jets: Ducks in 7
Blues-Wild: Blues in 5
Flames-Canucks: Canucks in 7
Blackhawks-Predators: Blackhawks in 6
Stanley Cup finalist: St. Louis Blues
Stanley Cup champion: Tampa Bay Lightning
Conn Smythe Trophy: Steven Stamkos