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Puck Daddy’s 2016 Stanley Cup Final predictions!

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks are battling for the 2016 Stanley Cup.

As all of your Puck Daddy favorites and Yahoo Sports writers have perfect brackets*, here are their picks for who takes hockey’s Holy Grail. 

(*unverified)

GREG WYSHYNSKI, PUCK DADDY EDITOR

Sharks in 6

I agree with Sidney Crosby: This is going to a blazing fast series, as two teams with solid overall team speed slug it out. Of course, knowing our luck, both coaches will just play the trap and every game ends 1-0 in the first two minutes of overtime. Meh.

The Sharks win their first Stanley Cup for a few reasons.

First is that they have better overall depth, especially on defense where the Penguins are going to start really missing Trevor Daley. They might be the only team that can face a Penguins squad that places Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin on three different lines and match them.

Second, they have a lethal power play and the Penguins aren’t going to avoid facing it – the Sharks are second to the Penguins in power-play opportunities in the playoffs and were fifth overall in the regular season. They’ll get their chances.

But most of all, that 3.50 goals per game average is earned by the Sharks. When their five big names are all playing well  – Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau, with steady goaltending from Jones – the Sharks are going to win a playoff series. And they’re going to win this playoff series, and their first Stanley Cup.

Let the dunking of giant, gross bears in champagne commence!

Conn Smythe Winner: Brent Burns, the X-Factor for the playoffs and for this series.

SEAN LEAHY, PUCK DADDY EDITOR

Penguins in 7

Flip a coin and you'll get your winner. These teams are very evenly matched -- from rookie goaltenders to first-year head coaches to veteran stars. The edge here might come down to speed. The Sharks are fast, but they haven't faced a team with speed such as the Penguins possess. That could cause their defense some issues. 

Both have young goalies player well. Both have veteran stars playing well. Depth should play a huge factor in the series and making quick adjustments will be vital for Mike Sullivan and Peter DeBoer.

As much as we'd all love to see Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau finally get a Cup ring, Sidney Crosby and crew will end up celebrating.

Conn Smythe: Phil Kessel. The leader of the HBK line needs to win this award just so we can all see the collective reaction from certain people in Toronto.

JEN NEALE, PUCK DADDY EDITOR

Pittsburgh in 7

This is the first Stanley Cup Final in a long time that feels 'too close to call.' Nobody (that I can remember) picked either team to get this far at the beginning of the season, so they don't have the looming expectations weighing on their shoulders.

Both goalies are equally inexperienced in this round of the playoffs. Both teams have players that have hit their stride at just the right time.

I see the home team winning each game. Ultimately, the Southern California hockey fan in me takes over, and firmly believes that the Sharks are not allowed to nice things.

(Sorry I'm not sorry, Sharks fans.)

Conn Smythe Winner: Matt Murray. With only one major hiccup thus far, this kid has J.S. Giguere'ed his way into the Conn Smythe. Could you handle this kind of pressure at 21-22 years old and not crack?

JOSH COOPER, PUCK DADDY EDITOR

Sharks in 7

The Sharks played the best hockey in the rough and tumble Western Conference (the conference that has won five Cups this decade) to make this point. They’re also relatively healthy – the only major known injury being to forward Matt Nieto. That being said no team can roll three offensive lines like the Penguins. The New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning had no answer for the “HBK“ trio of Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino.  

The difference in this series will be defensive depth. The Sharks will exploit the Trevor Daley-less Penguins enough to win. But it’s going to be close. Both teams have been so good since the New Year. Choosing one was difficult, but I ultimately feel that the Sharks are deeper, healthier and fresher for this series up and down their lineup.

Conn Smythe Winner: Joe Pavelski. He’s been the heartbeat of the Sharks this playoff. Pavelski has scored big goals and made big plays. He’s proven his worth as captain this run.

RYAN LAMBERT, PUCK DADDY COLUMNIST

Sharks in 7

This is effectively a coin toss, to be honest. Neither team winning would really surprise me. They're both very good and very deep. Since Jan. 1, they're second and third in the league in score-adjusted CF%, and San Jose already beat No. 1 (the Kings). For the record, Tampa was fourth.

I think it comes down to depth here, and the way the Penguins' 'D' has played to this point isn't exactly encouraging in terms of going up against the Sharks' lower lines. The Sharks allow far fewer goals per game and while they haven't played a team with three legit scoring lines, Pittsburgh hasn't played someone who's going to make them pay for their mistakes to the extent San Jose can.

Again, close series, but the Sharks have a narrow edge. They've drawn 16 more penalties than they've committed at 5-on-5. The next-closest team in the postseason is Pittsburgh at plus-4. That's enough to make a difference.

Conn Smythe Winner: Joe Thornton. This is just me laying down some wishful thinking but I would love it. More likely it's Joe Pavelski because of all the goals, but whatever.

DARRYL “DOBBER” DOBBS, PUCK DADDY FANTASY COLUMNIST

Penguins in 7

I keep betting against the Sharks (other than the first round) and I keep getting Brent Burned. But I won't mind being wrong here because I'd love nothing more than to see Big Joe win his Cup. This is an epic battle between an unstoppable power play and blazing speed. The two hottest teams in the league. I'll only be surprised if this doesn't go seven.

Conn Smythe Winner: Matt Murray. Just to make things complicated for Marc-Andre Fleury's keeper league owners. But really it's because if the Penguins stop the Sharks it will be because they slowed down the power play. And if they slowed down the mighty San Jose power play it will be because Matt Murray shut the door.

SAM MCCAIG, YAHOO SPORTS HOCKEY EDITOR

Penguins in 6

The sentimental pick is the Sharks, for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau to finally hoist the Stanley Cup after 15 years of on-the-cusp contention. But, sentimentality doesn't win championships. This is a skill-on-skill showdown, and the Penguins have a tad more talent from top to bottom. Pittsburgh has three lines that can fly -- yes, Penguins can fly -- and more importantly, they have three dangerous scoring lines with a game-breaker on each unit.

The ability to roll out Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel on different lines, one after the other, should prove to be the difference in this series. The fact that Crosby and Malkin have been relatively quiet in the past couple of rounds means they're due for a breakout, which should concern San Jose more than a little bit. Pittsburgh in six games for its first Cup in seven years.

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