Who is Going to Win the Stanley Cup?
The NHL season is over, all 82 games have been played, and the first round matchups have been determined. With the new divisional layout some amazing rivalries have ben formed and some truly Stanley Cup-worthy teams will be squaring off against each other in the opening series. But which team has what it takes to win what is widely considered the hardest tournament in pro sports? Below you will find a reason why every team could win, why they won't win, and in the end, our prediction for who will ultimately emerge victorious.
Why they will win: Because they've proven they can, having taken home two trophies in the last four years. If they can get Toews back fully healthy and some hot goaltending they could definitely go all the way.
Why they won't win: They have a doozy of a first round matchup against the Blues, a team that acquired a top-flight goalie in Ryan Miller at the deadlione and bodes a lineup deeper than Lake Michigan.
St. Louis Blues
Why they will win: Coaching. Ken Hitchcock is among the best in the game.
Why they won't win: Injuries.
Why they will win: Energy. The youthful core of Colorado should be revved up and ready to go for a playoff run. They should also have a chip on their shoulder. Going in to the season a lot of people had the Avalanche and their rookie head coach Patrick Roy pegged for the bottom of the standings, so they should be playing with something to prove.
Why they won't win: Inexperience. For all of his playing experience, Coach Roy has zero expereince coaching in the postseason, and his players aren't the most seasoned of veterans. Their captain (Landeskog) is all of 21-years old and their top four scorers are 23 (Duchene), 21 (Landeskog), 23 (O'Reilly) and 18 (MacKinnon).
Why they will win: It's time. After having spent a lot of money over the last two season to legitimize their roster with the likes of Parise and Suter, the Wild are ready to take the next step in to the later rounds of the playoffs.
Why they won't win: Goaltending could be their downfall. For as amazing as he's been in Minny so far Bryzgalov is nothing if not erratic. Also they lack a bit of punch up front, so if their top line is neutralized they might struggle to score goals.
Los Angeles Kings
Why they will win: The masked man. Jonathan Quick has experience carrying this team all the way to a Cup and if he stands on his head like he did in 2012 the Kings could make another run at the championship.
Why they won't win: The San Jose Sharks. Even if they can get by a tough team from down the highway in California, they will be too gassed to slog through the rest of the field in a very tough Western Conference.
San Jose Sharks
Why they will win: It has to be their year at some point. After playing at an elite level for the better part of a decade this team has never reached the promised land and they've had maybe their best season in 2013-2014.
Why they won't win: The same reason as above. This group, for all its talent, can't seem to make the championship leap necessary to take home the trophy.
Why they will win: Teemu Selanne. The ageless Finn wants another Cup before he flies in to retirement and the guys around him will be playing with that in mind. They are also top to bottom a very skilled but organized bucnh that will be tough to take in a seven-game series.
Why they won't win: Goalie issues. Without a clear-cut number one in net if there is a bump in the road they might panic and pull a premature switcheroo.
Why they will win: Razzle dazzle. Tyler Seguin is an absolute magician when he gets going and Jamie Benn has been among the best in hockey this year.
Why they won't win: Their starting goalie has a grant total of two playoff games under his pads and a save percentage of .849 in those games. Not liking Lehtonen or the Stars in this series.
Why they will win: Balance. Tough, two-way forwards that still have scoring punch, ferocious D-men and a premium goaltender mean there aren't many weaknesses to expose on this Bruins squad. They are the most battle-tested group in the East and they have Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask on their team, three of the scariest playoff performers.
Why they won't win: The only way I see Boston not making the Finals is if they run in to an absurdly hot goalie and suffer some key injuries.
Detroit Red Wings
Why they will win: Youthful exuberance. A franchise that usually relies on veteran savvy is now being carried by the scoring phenom Gustav Nyquist. Datsyuk and Zetterberg should be back as well, and those guys are decent I guess
Why they won't win: They play the Bruins in the first round.
Why they will win: Sidney Crosby.
Why they won't win: Marc-Andre Fleury. He's had one of his best regular seasons but we've seen before his willingness to let the puck in the net, not a great trait for a goalie.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Why they will win: Sergei Bobrovsky. Coming off a Vezina season and having jst submitted anothyer stellar campaign, Bob could cacth fire and steal a series all on his own.
Why they won't win: Sidney Crosby. And they lost Nathan Horton for the year. And the franchise has never won a playoff game. Pick one.
Why they will win: Momentum. Claude Giroux is once again playing like one of the best players in the world and after a rocky start the hard-nosed Flyers are playing their best at the right time.
Why they won't win: Ray Emery. The turbulent netminder will start betwen the pipes now that Steve Mason is down. Hard to trust an unpredictable goalie in an already tough series against one of the best (Lundqvist).
New York Rangers
Why they will win: Coaching. Alain Vigneault has playoff pedigree and with the addition of Martin St. Louis at the trade deadline he now has another proven scorer he can line up next to Nash for when they eally need a marker. Their goalie is also pretty good.
Why they won't win: Unpredictability. Will the team who has looked ready to take on all challengers show up? Or the one who looked like one of the league's worst in the first two months of the season?
Tampa Bay Lightning
Why they will win: Steven Stamkos. Simply put, the most pure goal scorer in the game. He might be watched a little closer in the playoffs when the whistles get put away by the referees, but the man is magic with the puck on his stick and if he gets any kind of space the puck will quickly be deposited in to the back of the net.
Why they won't win: Chemistry. The loss of St. Louis has hur this team's leadership core, and with off-ice troubles of Ryan Malone, this team might lack the leadership to take it to the next level.
Why they will win: Tradition. They are the only Canadian team in the postseason and the most successful franchise in hockey history. A win against Tampa Bay also sets up a juicy second-round battle against the vaunted Bruins.
Why they won't win: Inconsistency. They have gone through periods of brilliance and prolonged stretches of mediocrity. To be the best you need to sustain excellence for two months, something I'm not sure this crew is capabale of.
Boston in six games over San Jose. If they can avoid injury the Bruins have the most balanced roster and will be itching to take home Lord Stanley's Cup after being denied in heartbreaking fashion by the Blackhawks last season.
Have your say!
Do you think the Bruins will win? What's your favourite hockey team? Do you watch the Stanley Cup playoffs? Let us know in the comments below!