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Your Call: Who is the favourite to win the Stanley Cup?

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TSN.ca Staff
5/30/2013 3:44:24 PM
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With two rounds of playoff action in the books, four teams are left in the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup.

The remaining clubs make up an impressive collection of the last four champions, Pittsburgh Penguins (2009), Chicago Blackhawks (2010), Boston Bruins (2011), and Los Angeles Kings (2012). It's only the second time ever that the NHL's final four will be a battle of title holders from the previous four years.

So who is the favourite to take home the Stanley Cup in 2013?

In the West, the reigning champion Kings will need to get past the first-place Blackhawks if they intend to defend their crown. Los Angeles has improved as the season has gone on, with goaltender Jonathan Quick rounding back into his Conn Smythe form from a year ago. However, the Kings barely made it to the Western Conference final, needing seven games to get past the San Jose Sharks in the second round.

The Blackhawks started the season with a 24-game point streak and eventually took home the Presidents' Trophy, but they were forced to come back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat their second-round opponent, the Detroit Red Wings, in a series that included a next-goal-advances overtime in Game 7.

The Blackhawks may be fortunate to have home ice advantage, since the Kings boast a perfect 7-0 record at home this post-season.

The Blackhawks and Kings have met on just one previous occasion in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Chicago beat Los Angeles in five games in a 1974 Western quarterfinals series.

In the East, the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins will collide with the fourth-place Boston Bruins in a meeting of two well-rested clubs. When the puck drops on Saturday night, each team will have had nearly a week off thanks to playing five-game series in the last round.

The Penguins may have stars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but Jarome Iginla will steal some of the spotlight this series. The Bruins thought they had acquired the veteran winger in a deal prior to the trade deadline, but it was the Penguins who ultimately completed a deal for the former Calgary Flames captain.

The Bruins turned around and added another veteran, Jaromir Jagr, to help solidify them for a deep playoff run. Jagr has plenty of history with the Penguins, both as a player and as opponent. Not only did Jagr put up lofty totals while wearing a Penguins jersey, he also was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers squad that upset the Penguins in the first round last year.

The Penguins and Bruins have met on four previous occasions in the Stanley Cup playoffs with each team having won twice. The Bruins captured the first two meetings in 1979 and 1980. Meanwhile, the Penguins twice defeated the Bruins in the Conference Final en route to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.

With all four contenders having recently won a title, there is plenty of championship experience among the teams left standing, including 56 names currently engraved on the Stanley Cup (Kings 19, Bruins 18, Penguins 11, Blackhawks 8).

Who do you think will emerge from the final four?

Will the Kings bring another title to California? Can the Bruins maintain their momentum all the way to the final? Are the Penguins poised for another march to the top? Do the Blackhawks have enough left in the tank to hoist the Cup?

As always, it's Your! Call.

Dustin Brown (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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