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THN.com Blog: Picking the champ no easy task

Adam Proteau will return April 2. In his absence, the The Hockey News.com will feature several guest bloggers. Up today is THN senior special sections editor Brian Costello.

The scientific workings behind The Hockey News' spring prediction for the 2007 Stanley Cup were in full force Monday during our daily morning meeting.

As expected, there was no consensus on which team to select. Not even a slim majority. There was even a nomination for a team that hadn't yet clinched a playoff berth.

So we did what all good decision-makers did and convened the debate for another day.

On Tuesday, the five seniors editors and writers gathered in Jason Kay's office to take up the issue again. It wasn't that we didn't appreciate or respect the opinions of our junior partners. We just thought it easier trying to manage five differing opinions rather than a dozen.

The point was made we picked Anaheim to win the Cup at the start of the regular season and the Ducks have done nothing since that time to make us change our mind. In past years, we have strayed from our prediction in September based on the course of events during an 82-game season. In fact, our April Cup pick usually differs from our choice at the start of the season.

One editor made the valid point that his Cup pick will be from the East because the road to success is just too tough in the West.

Makes sense. The parity is so deep in the West that it's expected there will be one or two or three upsets in the four first round series. Heck, last year there were four.

While the Eastern Conference champion may get through to the Cup final in 16-18 games over three rounds, the Western rep likely will play 19-21 games and be all beaten up. Plus, the travel schedule is more hectic in the west.

So the debate dragged on for 30 minutes with still no clear-cut Cup favorite. Then we each filled in a tip-three ballot.

It's interesting to note that three teams from each conference were represented on all five ballots. Buffalo, New Jersey and Ottawa in the East; Nashville, Anaheim and Calgary in the West. Hard to believe Detroit didn't even get a single top three vote, but that's how tight the field is this year.

And the winner? You'll have to wait to see. Mike Brophy's working on that story now in a Stanley Cup playoff preview.

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