Question of the Week: Who is moving on to the Conference Finals?

It's that beautiful time of year where every single second of every game counts, and every single place on the planet that covers hockey provides predictions. Predictions that are usually worthless about 25 seconds after they're made. Such is the norm in playoff hockey.

We're no different here at Raw Charge. We enjoy making the occasional prognostication as well. And with that in mind, I asked the RC Staff a simple question:

The matchups for the Conference Semifinals are now set. Who do you see moving on, and how?

Staff answers after the jump, let's see your predictions in the comments, yeah?

Cassie McClellan - Managing Editor

I see the Blues stomping the Kings into a sad little puddle in what used to be the Los Angeles River. The Coyotes will breeze through the next round on the back of Mike Smith, who will take the team to the Stanley Cup Final. (Did I really just type that?!) The Rangers will also stomp the Caps like any sensible person stomps on a spider - quick, fast, a couple of times, and then burning it with fire just to make sure it's really dead. And...I don't really care about the Devils and Flyers.

So the Western Conference Final will be between the St. Louis Blues and the Phoenix Coyotes, while the Eastern Conference Final will be won by the New York Ranger - mostly because I don't want either the New Jersey Devils or the Philadelphia Flyers winning their series, let alone the conference.

John Fontana - Managing Editor

I see NBC and league executives moving on in all this. I see them dancing and giving themselves pats on the back. "FOUR teams in the Northeast made it to teh semi-finals! We get a repeat of Philly/Pittsburgh in Philly/New Jersey! And just think of what happens when the Rangers advance! Oh, boy! Oh, boy! Oh, boy!"

It's another part of the reason I expect the Stanley Cup Champion to cme out of the West: Because ratings are the only thing to crow about from the East so far. The West has 2 smaller market teams (Nashville, Phoenix), a mid-market team (St. Louis) and the large market LA Kings. Goaltending is going to reign in the next round out West and I can't say who will triumph... But I will say that Mike Smith falling down and going boom would not surprise me. Nor Ken Hitchcock saying something that elicits a "Shut yer yap" comment from back East.

Clark Brooks - Staff Writer

The Rangers will beat Washington, keeping intact my prediction of Rangers over Blues for the Cup and I'm really good at predicting stuff.

The Predators will beat the Coyotes, but it will be close and go seven games. Evemn if I'm wrong, I'm just thrilled that one team from a market that the traditionalists hate will go at least as far as the conference finals.

The Blues will beat the Kings (see above, regarding my Cup prediction of Rangers over Blues)

The Devils will beat the Flyers, because I never want the fans of Philadelphia to ever win another championship in anything ever again. Although, to their credit, if a Joel Ward goal eliminated the Flyers, their fans wouldn't resort to racist epithets like some Bruins fans did. Oh sure, they'd want to vomit on his children, but race wouldn't be a factor in that.

Clare Austin - Staff Writer

I’m going to have to approach this is a different way. I don’t know who’ll make it out of the 2nd round, so I’m gonna tell you why I don’t know.

St. Louis – Los Angeles: Neither of these teams have great offense. St. Louis was 24th in the league during the regular season with 2.52 goals for per game and Los Angeles was 29th with 2.29 GF/G. Both have outstanding defense. St. Louis gave up 26.7 shots against and 1.89 goals against per game (1st in the league in both categories). LA gave up 27.4 SA/G (5th) and 2.07 GA/G (2nd). Which means it comes down to goaltending. Which means it could go either way. If one of the goalies falters, his team is going to lose. If he falters a lot, his team is done for the season. And if anyone tells you they can predict how a goalie is going to do in any specific 7-game stretch, have them checked out because they are delusional.

STL with a slight advantage well within the "margin of error"

Phoenix – Nashville: Sort of like the STL-LAK matchup, these two teams are virtually identical. They play the same way; they’re built the same; they have the same philosophy; and they have (again, like STL-LAK) two of the hottest goalies in the league, and they split their regular season series. It’s going to come down to: A. goaltending consistency and B. forward depth. In the regular season, Nashville sat at 8th for GF/G with 2.83 and Phoenix was at 18th with 2.56. Neither team generates a lot of shots.

NSH with a miniscule offensive advantage that is dwarfed by the margin of error.

New York – Washington: I was surprised by both teams’ first round performances, the Caps because it was far better than I expected and the Rangers because it was worse. If the Caps are firing on all cylinders (not a given) they have the offensive advantage. Or, Braden Holtby might start to show that he is, in actual fact, a rookie, but he hasn’t yet.

New York with the experience advantage but key injuries. Washington with tons of talent on paper, but the inability to hold it together over the long haul.

Philadelphia – New Jersey: If Philly had an actual goaltender, they’d be a lock. New Jersey’s capable of locking down the offense to some extent, but can they hold it off completely? Brodeur’s still capable of being amazing, but he’s so very inconsistent these days. And Philly has the league’s 2nd highest regular season offense. Problem is that Bryzgalov has by far the worst playoff save percentage of the remaining goalies. Oh, yeah, except for his backup.

Philly for the offensive advantage. New Jersey for the defensive advantage. Coin toss.

Dani Toth - Staff Writer/ Lightning Hockey Blog

The West: Can I buy a goal?

Even though captain Backes is a lover and saver of puppies (Google image search David Backes + dogs), no one can crotch grab after a goal like Drew Doughty can on Jarrett Stoll.

Kings come out on top on this one, St. Louis fans gobble their sorrows down in the form of fried tortellini. NBC wins because people will actually watch this series.

What a ratings bonanza! Female hockey fans win this one as Shea Weber's beard gains its monstrous power and wins this series single-beardedly. Hundreds of women get pregnant from the effects of this series.

The East:

Last round I did something that as a Lightning fan I thought was impossible to do, I f-cking cheered for the Caps to win. This round, I hate the Rangers and Capitals quite equally and I have no idea who will win this, but let's say that Lundqvist stones the Caps with his beautiful, beautiful eyes.

Man the travel must be exhausting for this series. I don't care about the Devils and think Marty is at the end of the line but Bryz could make him look like Marty from a few years ago. Flyers make up for Bryzgalov's meltdowns by scoring a million goals.

Flyers advance after beating the Devils in 2 games.