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NHL Blog Council: Predicting the playoff destinies for the Capitals and Sharks

All roads lead through New York and Anaheim.

With a network as vast as ours here at SB Nation, we figured we'd put our fine hockey bloggers to good use. You've got questions every week. We know. And we're here to help.

Each Monday at noon ET we'll take your questions on Twitter at @SBNationNHL. Our NHL Blog Council (made up of different bloggers from around the SBN hockey network) will meet and consider your queries. Later in the week we will render our verdicts to the masses.

Without further ado ...

Blog Council: COMMENCE

Jake SundstromFear The Fin: My heart says yes, but the cold fear inside me sees Henrik Lundqvist's cold, beautiful eyes staring the Capitals to Ovechkin's summer house.

Mary ClarkeSB Nation NHL: I’ve had the Washington Capitals heading to this year’s Stanley Cup Final for awhile now, so yes I think the Rangers finally fall to their Metropolitan Division rivals in the playoffs this season. The Capitals are deep in every aspect of their roster so it’s no surprise to see them lead the latest Stanley Cup odds. On the flip side, the Rangers have had dry spells in offense, and though Henrik Lundqvist has bailed New York out at almost every turn, we’ve started to see the cracks in the 33-year-old goaltender. Lundqvist can’t carry the Rangers forever, and this looks to be the year the tables finally turn the Capitals way.

Dan SaraceniLighthouse Hockey: Even though the hot thing is reminding Caps fans about their team's historic playoff struggles, it's hard to see this version of the team not at least making it to the conference finals. When they inevitably meet the Rangers in the playoffs (as they must, per the NHL's CBA), they should have enough to beat them. As an Islanders fan, I live every day abject, paralyzing terror that the Rangers will win it all, so someone had better beat them. Just, uh, ask me this question again a few weeks from now after the Rangers make a huge, out-of-the-blue trade that gets Larry Brooks to dust off his pom poms again.

Cornelius HardenberghStanley Cup of Chowder: As a fan of a team that has seen what a monster Holtby can really be in the playoffs, and with Justin Williams' playoff experience against New York, I think the Caps will just barely eek by the New York Lundqvists.  My dream ECF (aside from all scenarios involving the Bruins, of course) is a Florida/Washington ECF and Jagr and Ovechkin end up best buds and solve crimes in the offseason together.

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Jake Sundstrom, Fear The Fin: I think with as good as the Kings are the Ducks and Sharks are destined to meet in the first round. This is a nightmare series for me with the opportunity to beat the team I hate the most ... or to do what the Sharks usually do.

Mary Clarke, SB Nation NHL: I don’t see any of the Kings, Sharks or Ducks catching the teams in the Central in points, so we could be looking at any number of matchups between those three teams in the first round. If we’re going off of which would be the most compelling, Sharks-Kings or Kings-Ducks have more going for them than Ducks-Sharks, thanks to San Jose’s infamous collapse against Los Angeles a few years back plus Anaheim’s proximity to the Kings that fuels that fire. Still, any of them make a fine first round series thanks to the intrastate California rivalry, but Ducks-Sharks would not be my first pick.

Dan Saraceni, Lighthouse Hockey: The best thing the NHL could do would be to have the three California teams have a mini-tournament between themselves with the winner earning an automatic ticket to the Western Conference Final. Just eliminate the rest of the Pacific Division now.

Cornelius Hardenbergh, Stanley Cup of Chowder: A Ducks/Sharks series could be fun. It would especially be fun if the Sharks won. Nobody likes Anaheim. C'mon.

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Jake Sundstrom, Fear The Fin: Patrick Marleau for Keith Yandle. There will be other pieces, but maybe if I predict this it won't happen.

Mary Clarke, SB Nation NHL: With Stamkos off the block this deadline, I think it’ll be pretty quiet all things considered. Add to that fact that the salary cap is in danger thanks to the deflating Canadian dollar, teams will probably be more conservative to pull triggers on big, Twitter-breaking deals. We might have already had it with the Phaneuf trade, but there could still be surprises. Mikkel Boedker, Andrew Ladd and Patrick Marleau are the biggest names I’ve seen touted out so far. Not exactly hockey A-listers, but definitely players to keep your eyes on.

Dan Saraceni, Lighthouse Hockey: The most impactful trade of the deadline will be whichever expiring UFA the Blackhawks get. Whether it's Boedker, Hudler, Ladd or whoever, someone's going to get a shot at a Cup and become a star in the playoffs before cashing in huge next season. The "biggest" trade of the deadline will involve whatever scraps the Leafs get when they start jettisoning half their roster. Every one of those deals will be talked about at length for 10 straight hours on Sportsnet's Trade Deadline Show like they're the second coming of Butch Goring.

Cornelius Hardenbergh, Stanley Cup of Chowder: Colin Miller to Boston for Kevan Miller might be the most impactful trade possible. At least, that's what I see through my black and gold glasses. Oh, and there's the little matter of Loui Eriksson as a possible rental. He's still damn good and the Bruins would probably suck without him. Plenty of teams would love to add him to their lineup or are run by stupid GMs. Now that Yzerman said that only a really really really big deal would get Stamkos traded, Eriksson might be the biggest trade target out there.  Except that everyone needs defense.

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Jake Sundstrom, Fear The Fin: No, they should be moved to Bakersfield, which is a better hockey market anyway.

Mary Clarke, SB Nation NHL: Elephant-playing hockey logo or bust, if only because of the wonderfully accurate description.

Dan Saraceni, Lighthouse Hockey: If Quebec does get an NHL team again, make no mistake: they will be called Les Nordiques just like NHL Winnipeg 2.0 was never going to be called anything other than the Jets. If the Nords 2.0 had a new primary logo but keep the old red igloo logo as a secondary mark, like a shoulder patch or something, that would be fine. I'm more hoping that they bring back the baby blue uniforms because the league needs more unique colors.

Cornelius Hardenbergh, Stanley Cup of Chowder: No, they should be forced to get a new trash logo just like Winnipeg did. Or keep the logo of whatever team they had. Looking forward to the Quebec Jéts. No team would move to Canada with the Canadian dollar totally in the tank, unless it involved buying a bunch of land at a discount, anyway. Unless the NHL is bad at making good decisions. No, they would never do that. Competent leadership like that provided by Jeremy "Mr. Burns in real life" Jacobs would never lead the league to do something untoward like that.