Dobber Hockey Playoff Experts Panel 2016 – Stanley Cup Final

by Ian Gooding on May 29, 2016

Penguins or Sharks? Who wins the Conn Smythe? The Dobber Experts Panel weighs in.

Below is the experts’ panel for the Stanley Cup Final as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Game 1 of the final begins Monday at 8 p.m. ET. 

 Expert (record)

 Stanley Cup

 Conn Smythe

 Campkin (NA)

 PIT in 6

 Kessel

 Collins (NA)

 SJ in 5

 Pavelski

 Corettij (2-0)

 SJ in 7

 Pavelski

 Daoust (1-1)

 SJ in 6

 Burns

 Da Costa (2-0)

 PIT in 7

 Letang

 Dobber (10-4)

 PIT in 7

 Murray

 Fragopoulos (1-1)

 PIT in 6

 Kessel

 Gooding (7-7)

 PIT in 6

 Kessel

 Hoos (3-3)

 SJ in 7

 Burns

 LeBlanc (1-1)

 SJ in 6

 Pavelski

 Libin (2-0)

 SJ in 6

 Pavelski

 McMillan (1-1)

 SJ in 6

 Pavelski

 Pudsey (0-2)

 SJ in 6

 Couture

 Robinson (10-4)

 SJ in 6 

 Pavelski

 Roos (9-5)

 SJ in 6

 Burns

 Schmidt (9-5)

 SJ in 6

 Pavelski

 Wassel (2-0)

 SJ in 6

 Pavelski


Consensus: The panel has concluded that it will be the Sharks in 6 and Joe Pavelski for the Conn Smythe.

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Commentary from some of the writers:

Campkin: I think the teams have similar depth, so I’ll go with the team that has Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Collins: I have the strangest feeling the Penguins will get involved in a goaltending battle between Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury, especially if Matt Murray gets lit up in the first game. Pavelski is your Conn Smythe winner right now. He leads the playoffs in goals, power play goals, game-winning goals, and is second in points and power play points. But Couture is close behind. Whoever has the greatest final between those two will win the Conn Smythe.

Da Costa: Murray could have a bad game and all they have to replace him is another elite goalie. Crosby and Malkin are finding their scoring touch again and are dominant at controlling play even if they don’t. Having the HBK line is just a bonus. They’ll suffer without Trevor Daley, but their disadvantage on defense is more than compensated for with their abundance of offence.

Dobber: I'll agree with the Contrarian (Fragopoulos) here. I love the Pens, but love Big Joe and would love to see him get a Cup. Because everyone is picking the Sharks, I'll join Contrarian and go against the grain.

Gooding: As the editor for this piece, I’m simply shocked that there’s no love for Crosby or Malkin for the Conn Smythe. Ditto for Martin Jones and Joe Thornton, even with all these Sharks’ picks. See my analysis in the Ramblings. For the record, the Sharks are actually considered underdogs by several betting services

LeBlanc: I feel that losing Daley really hurts the Penguins in this series. Brent Burns wins the head to head battle of most important players in the series between him and Kris Letang. Jones and the Sharks’ power-play are the difference maker yet again.

Libin: The Penguins have a stars and scrubs group of forwards with a make shift defense corps. The Sharks can match the Pens up front with their depth while their defense corps is one of the deepest in the league including Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic who have been the best shutdown pairing in the playoffs. This defense corps tips the scales especially as Burns and Paul Martin may be the best offensive pairing left.

McMillan: Murray has been fantastic. HBK line has won a lot of people their pools already. But I gotta go with the beards. I think the Sharks have gone through tougher teams to get here. Burns is the X-factor. Pavs is the Conn Smythe. Sharks in 6.

Pudsey: The San Jose power play is going to be the difference in this series.

Robinson: It's not just the beards and lovable characters that have me picking the Sharks to win their first ever Stanley Cup, (although I do respect and admire the beards) it's the structure and depth – both up front and on the blueline. The Sharks boast the best team defense that the Penguins will face this post season, and to me, it's not even close. We all know that Burns does everything for this team, but Vlasic is so criminally underrated that it stings the nostrils. Throw in a stifling neutral zone scheme and a franchise center who holds on to the puck longer than you've held on to that worn out, ragged t-shirt because "it's good luck for the team" and all that speed and skill the Pens have will be looking like Vladimir Tarasenko did for 90 percent of the West Final.

Can Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Phil Kessel shoot the lights out while Murray continues his storybook run resulting in a cup victory? You betcha. But I love the structure that San Jose plays with and their top guns are nothing to sneeze at either. With the way the Sharks' top two lines are firing and with a deceptively strong bottom six, Pittsburgh's now one-manned back end is in for a lot of action.

Just think, if all goes to plan (yes, my plan) in a couple of weeks, Thornton will have transcended his reputation from playoff disappointment to cup champion. What a world we'll be living in!

Roos:  Lo and behold – I nailed the exact final in my pre-playoff prediction.  No small task when, according to the forums, SJ/PIT was a 47 to 1 pick.  And what's even better is I think my initial selection of San Jose over Pittsburgh is still the correct one.  Pittsburgh has reinvented itself thanks to embracing a team mentality and having a balanced yet still potent offense.  Oh, and healthy top guns never hurts either.  But I don't think that will be enough to beat San Jose, who look like a team on an unstoppable mission and with weapons on all lines and in all situations.  What the success of both these teams shows is that if an NHL squad makes offseason (San Jose) or trade deadline (Pittsburgh) moves which are focused on truly improving its team, rather than making the biggest splash or getting the most favorable press coverage, then that will pay dividends when it really matters.

Schmidt: San Jose's depth of talent is greater than Pittsburgh's, and the Sharks' ability to convert on the power play will ultimately be the difference.

Wassel: Joonas Donskoi has a showcase series with Couture.