The Road to the Cup (NHL Preview)

The road to the Stanley Cup has already started as NHL teams have made their draft picks and made their offseason moves. Now comes the time for the real work as the teams begin their season and look to win the next Stanley Cup. There are plenty of favorites this year but it all depends on who you ask. The Fans all believe that their team can make it to the finals but only a few actually have a chance. In the East the trendy pick is the Washington Capitals but their biggest issue will be their performance in the playoffs last year. Meanwhile everyone seems to still be on the Penguins bandwagon even with Sidney Crosby out indefinitely. Other favorites are the Flyers, the Lightning and the Bruins. In the West the trendy pick are the Chicago Blackhawks who many believe will be back to their Stanley Cup winning team this year. There is also hope for the defending Western Conference Champs in the Vancouver Canucks who will hope to be a slightly better team this year by winning the Cup. Other favorites in the West are The San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, and the always favorite Detroit Red Wings. Whether or not you are a favorite the season weeds out all of the pretenders and shows who will really win the Cup. This season will be interesting as usual and the predictions are just that so let us all sit back and watch another great NHL season this year.

Eastern Conference

The Eastern Conference saw the Stanley Cup come to their conference last year as the Boston Bruins won the Cup. This year the 14 other teams in the conference will all be looking to knock off the champions. This is why it is hard to repeat as champions because everyone sees a game against you as their championship game. If they can beat the defending champions they can show that they are just as good as last year’s champions. It isn’t really true as most championship teams must unload big contracts that players earn through bonuses. The fortunate thing for this year’s defending champions is that this big unload did not happen as the Bruins kept the majority of their team. This gives them a solid chance to repeat. They will have a number of good teams to compete against as the Capitals have added size and grittiness while the Philadelphia Flyers have retooled and added a number of proven scorers. At the bottom of the playoff pool, yes it is true, the Leafs seem to be poised to make the playoffs this year while the Rangers and Hurricanes will battle to the end yet again. Don’t expect much from the Leafs in the playoffs but making it is a step in the right direction. The rest of the playoff teams are all very close and if Sidney Crosby returns earlier in the year the Penguins might be able to make another run. All of the teams in the playoffs will be tough outs but coming out on top will probably be the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers. Washington has added some grit to a skilled team and finally have a proven goalie to back their defence up. Meanwhile the Flyers have added a host of new snipers when they traded their top players. The trade that everyone was talking about may actually work out for them with too many wingers than they know what to do with. The Capitals history keeps me hesitant though as they have continued to falter in the playoffs. With new-found depth and a goalie that can finally stand on his head for them the Flyers look like a good bet to win the East this year after getting close for the past few years.

Final Standings:

1. Washington Capitals

2. Boston Bruins

3. Philadelphia Flyers

4. Buffalo Sabres

5. Tampa Bay Lightning

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

7. Montreal Canadiens

8. Toronto Maple Leafs

9. New York Rangers

10. Carolina Hurricanes

11. Winnipeg Jets

12. New Jersey Devils

13. New York Islanders

14. Ottawa Senators

15. Florida Panthers

 

Eastern Conference Champions:

Philadelphia Flyers

 

Western Conference

The Western Conference came up one game short of bringing the Stanley Cup to the West Coast and came within one game away from breaking the Canadian Cup drought. The Vancouver Canucks made it to the finals against the Bruins last year but came up short in Game 7. After a great season the Canucks will look to go back to the finals and finally win the Cup for their fans and for Canadian teams. They again will have some trouble as the President’s trophy winners as every team will be trying to beat the best regular season team from last year to prove their worth. Meanwhile the Blackhawks and the Sharks both looks strong as true challengers to Vancouver’s Western Conference title. The Blackhawks have brought toughness back to Chicago as they look to get back to the Stanley Cup this year after not repeating as champs last year. The Sharks are an iffy team that tends to collapse in the postseason but have added more depth to their team. The bottom of the playoffs will see a lot of the Northwest teams fighting it out to get a playoff spot. It will be the only other playoff spot to get after Vancouver wins the division as these teams are all just good enough to battle but not great. The big battle will be between the Colorado Avalanche that have improved almost every aspect of their game and the Nashville Predators who surprised everyone with how far they went last year. The top teams in the conference will be fighting closely but I believe that the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings will face off in the championships game. The Blackhawks seem to have recreated the team that won a Stanley Cup but there are still questions on the team. The Kings have improved their offence and kept a solid defence that could breakthrough to the Stanley Cup this year.

Final Standings:

1. San Jose Sharks

2. Chicago Blackhawks

3. Vancouver Canucks

4. Los Angeles Kings

5. Anaheim Ducks

6. Detroit Red Wings

7. St. Louis Blues

8. Colorado Avalanche

9. Nashville Predators

10. Minnesota Wild

11.  Calgary Flames

12. Dallas Stars

13. Columbus Blue Jackets

14. Edmonton Oilers

15. Phoenix Coyotes

Western Conference Champions:

Los Angeles Kings

 

Stanley Cup Finals

Philadelphia Flyers 4 vs. 3 Los Angeles Kings

– The story in itself makes a great series as the former Flyers Mike Richards and Simon Gagne take on their former team but more than that is that both teams seem to be the most improved this year with the Flyers taking the series thanks to their goaltending.

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  1. […] instinct as a blogger that does predictions and I have learned this with the NHL season. In my 2011-12 season preview I predicted a Los Angeles vs. Philadelphia Stanley Cup Finals. I changed my tune though when it […]



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