What's up, Vinglers! I decided to get in on the jump ahead January train after seeing my good friend @mchlyang's card on the NBA finals. Who can forget the other best of seven series that never fails to excite, the Stanley Cup Finals! Although the NHL season is a little past halfway done, it's never too early to look ahead! With everyone still technically still capable of making it to the playoffs, let's take a look at the teams that have the best shot at winning it all!
First up, the defending champions, the Chicago Blackhawks! The Hawks have been on fire lately, and currently lead the western conference with 68 points. They are lead by Captain Jonathan Toews, leading scorer Patrick Kane, and netminder Corey Crawford. Kane leads the league for goals and points, with 30 and 72 respectively. He's having a monster of a year. Meanwhile, Crawford is in the top five for wins and save percentage. With three Stanley cups in the last six years and a red hot offense, they are the team to beat in the west once again.
The Washington Capitals are having an incredible year as well, and they lead the league with 73 points through 46 games. Led by veteran sniper Alex Ovechkin, young center Evgeny Kuznetsov, and netminder Braden Holtby, the Caps are clearly the best in the east. Kuznetsov is in the top five in points, assists, and plus/minus, while Ovechkin is just behind Patrick Kane for goals with 28. Ovechkin has won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy the last three years, and he'll need to beat out Kane to win it a record fourth time in a row (and sixth overall). Washington leads the NHL with 3.33 goals per game, and also boasts an impressive league leading 27.1% success rate on the power play. In addition to their powerful offense, Braden Holtby leads the league with 30 wins and ranks in the top five in goals against average and save percentage. This is a complete and dangerous team. I'll be shocked if the Capitals don't make it to the finals, and this could be the year Ovechkin finally gets his Cup.
Trailing the Blackhawks in the Central Division are the Dallas Stars, one of the hottest teams in the league. Lead by captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, the Stars look ready to take the next step and contend for a Cup. They added three former Blackhawks with Stanley Cup experience in Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, and Antti Niemi during the off-season, and it's paid off. They are second in the league in goals and shots per game. Benn and Seguin are both in the top three for points and in the top four for goals, and are arguably the best scoring tandem in the NHL. Look out for Dallas.
Who do you want to see lift Lord Stanley's Cup in June? Will it be Chicago? Washington? Dallas? Or maybe some other team will catch fire in the playoffs and make the regular season seen irrelevant? Could the St. Louis Blues, who have never won it, erase nearly fifty years of playoff futility to win it all? I can't wait to find out! Who do think will win the Stanley Cup this year?