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Defending my conference picks

Updated: May 13, 2012, 4:45 PM ET
By Craig Custance

It took seven games and every ounce of effort from the New York Rangers until the clock expired in their 2-1 win against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. But the NHL's final four is finally set. And the race for the Stanley Cup is wide open.

There's a reasonable championship case to be made for every team left, and anyone who has tried to predict the outcomes of any series in these playoffs has learned well that they're all but unpredictable. But we're back at it and we picked winners for the conference finals.

Here's the rationale behind my picks:

Western Conference

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