Author Topic: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up  (Read 6800 times)

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Jeff in MD

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How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« on: January 07, 2016, 04:53:50 pm »
Seeing as the calendar has turned to 2016 I thought it would be a good time to start this thread and get a discussion and analysis going about who the top 8-10 Cup contenders are right now/will be come playoff time. In no particular order:

East

Montreal Canadiens - Biggest question with them is the health of Carey Price, but they've also been struggling to score goals for a month now, which could be due to Price out and thus more of a focus on defensive responsibility and not so much offensively. Gallagher being out the entire month of December may have played a part as well. PP is only ranked 19th and come playoff time special teams are huge, but they do have one of the best defensive teams in the league. Going to be interesting to see if they can get back to early season form when Price comes back.

Florida Panthers (as crazy as it is :uhh) - They don't score a ton of goals but Luongo has been stellar in net and the ageless Jagr just keeps on rolling. Really sound behind the blue line with Ekblad, Campbell, Kulikov and Mitchell, and Barkov looks like a potential superstar in the making. Biggest concern for them is lack of consistent goal production and their PP is 23rd which will be an issue come playoff time if it doesn't improve.

Washington Capitals - Watching this team every game I have have a close perspective on them, and when fully healthy they are a complete team in every facet. Holtby is a Vezina favorite and has been a brick wall in net all season. They can score goals in bunches and this is the most offensive talent that Ovechkin has ever had around him. Bringing in T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams really bolstered the top-6 into one of the best, if not the best, in the league and Kuznetsov is becoming a superstar. They have 4 lines that can score, are great on special teams and have one of the best defensive units in the league when healthy with Alzner, Orpik, Niskanen and Carlson as their top 4. Barry Trotz has also become one of the best coaches in the league if he wasn't already. Biggest issue for them right now is health with Orpik, Carlson and Jay Beagle all out. Mike Richards was a good recent pickup as a tough, gritty, hard nosed vet and another guy with Cups under his belt. Rumors are that Orpik could be out for a few more months and their are reports here that the Caps will be interested in getting a big name D-man before the trade deadline. I know what their playoff history is, but this is the most complete Caps team I've ever seen.

N.Y. Islanders - Islanders seem to have a solid but somewhat inconsistent team. Seem to be pretty good in every area but not really great in any one area, and their goaltending has been inconsistent with Halak and Greiss. They're pretty sound on the back end with Hamonic, Leddy, Boychuk and de Haan, will be interesting to see if they can round into form over the back end of the schedule. If Halak gets healthy and is consistent, they could be a tough out in the playoffs.

N.Y. Rangers - Don't really know what to make of this team, they've had injuries but overall don't look anywhere close to what they've been the past several years and Lundqvist all of a sudden looks really old in net. The defense and overall play has been subpar for 6+ weeks months now, the scoring has been inconsistent, and there are rumblings that some players are unhappy with Vigneault. I put them on this list but their days of being a serious Cup contender may be over.


West

Chicago Blackhawks - Once again the Hawks look really strong. Patrick Kane is having a career year even for him, Panarin is having a ridiculously good rookie season, they're strong behind the blue line and Corey Crawford has been great in net. Plus we all know their playoff track record so they look to be a top contender to win it all yet again.

Dallas Stars - Seguin and Benn might be the best 1-2 scoring punch in the league and they can score goals in bunches. Spezza and Sharp are having resurgent seasons and the Stars have one of the best top-6's in the league, as well as 2 of the best offensive d-men in the league in Klingberg and Goligoski. Goaltending and defense are their achilles heel, Lehtonen and Niemi have struggled all season. They've given up 12 goals in their last 2 games now and 6 goals in 3 of their last 5. I can see them struggle to win 2-1/3-2 games come playoff time. 

St. Louis Blues - Given what we see from them come playoff time I could have left them off the list, but Tarasenko and Steen are 2 of the best players in the league and can take over a game. Jake Allen has emerged as a really good young goaltender who can steal some games for them and the combo of Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk have done a good job holding down the back end, so they have to be listed in the mix as a contender.

Minnesota Wild - Dubnyk has been solid in goal and Ryan Suter is always a Norris candidate but the Wild struggle to score goals and their PP & PK are ranked 21st and 22nd respectively. They're pretty tight defensively which will put them in the mix to come out of the West but their lack of scoring is a problem and they don't have a history of playoff success.

L.A. Kings - With their recent Cup pedigree this team is always in the mix. Quick is having another great year and they're strong again behind the blue line but they struggle to consistently score goals. That said, they always have to be listed among the stronger Cup contenders in the league.


Teams like the Wings, Bruins and Preds could be capable of getting hot at some point but have been too inconsistent this season to really be considered strong contenders at this point.

What are your thoughts on which teams look the most Cup worthy?


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Dan in Toronto

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2016, 03:33:08 pm »
Great topic and nice breakdown Jeff.

Obviously the Stars are the team to beat in the West and this has been a buildup ever since they went and got Spezza and Seguin. I like the Preds as a darkhorse.

The Panthers have a chance to go all the way to the final on the back of Luongo but only is the Caps fall early. Kinda reminds me of time they went to the Cup final against Colorado and ran out of gas

Washington finally has their first legitimate coach since Bryan Murray back in the 80's. Yeah Boudreau won coach of the year but did nothing in the playoffs. I think Trotz gets them over the hump and to the finals against Dallas.

The only thing that I think can stop the Caps is Carey Price.

I think Dallas beats Washington in a great 7 game final.
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Jeff in MD

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2016, 10:02:08 pm »
I agree with everything you said except I think defense and goaltending is an issue for Dallas. Niemi won a Cup with the Hawks but that was 6 years ago and Lehtonen hasn't shown he's a Cup worthy goaltender at any point and his numbers are just average this year. Plus I don't know if the Stars could maintain their goal scoring pace if they have to face the the Hawks or Kings and deal with Crawford or Quick.

Caps have held their own against Price the last few years and given how long Price has been out with this injury you wonder if he's going to make it back to 100% by the playoffs. Will definitely be a great series if those 2 teams meet in the Conf. Finals.
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Dan in Toronto

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2016, 12:07:29 pm »
Yeah. I agreed with everythng I said too. Except that last line. Should have said Washington beats Dallas in the final. I'm still drunk from last night apparently.  :-\
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Outlaw

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2016, 12:58:02 pm »
My money is on the Blackhawks representing the west although they looked like crap getting beat down by the 'Canes last night. Way to lay an egg after Bowman gets that 3 year extension.  :lol



Nice work on the breakdown by the way. Way too much thought process to be wasting it on this board though.  :lol
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 12:59:48 pm by Outlaw »
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RC in CMinn

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2016, 10:16:06 pm »
Wild surging after coach change. They're built for playoffs but are the regular-season suck. Their future will depend on the first-round draw.

Jeff in MD

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2016, 01:07:30 am »
Wild surging after coach change. They're built for playoffs but are the regular-season suck. Their future will depend on the first-round draw.

The crazy stat I saw the other night is that they're 7-0 against the Hawks the last 2 years. Of course it doesn't mean anything if they can't get past them in the playoffs. Wild look really good right now though.
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Hedstrom

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2016, 07:40:45 am »
No Canadian team in playoffs since 1970...but still plenty of Canadians.

Not going to make any predictions but would like to see St. Louis go on a run and the Wings' playoff streak end.
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Rob in VB

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2016, 08:01:15 am »
C-A-P-S CAPS,CAPS,CAPS
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Hedstrom

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2016, 08:08:43 am »
C-A-P-S CAPS,CAPS,CAPS

Appears that way.
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Dan in Toronto

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2016, 06:30:54 am »
Washington looks really good.

Pittsburgh has been on fire and that's without Malkin.

Nice to see Dubnyk doing well in Minnesota. Maybe they can surprise and win a round or two.

Sorry Hed I think St. louis is going to crap the bed again. When push comes to shove they fold.

Chicago and LA perennial contenders.

The West is going to be the tougher conference to get through which should make the Finals advantage East. But I'm sticking with my original prediction of Dallas over Washington in 7

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Tim in Chapel Hill

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2016, 08:02:22 am »
Still the champs until the Cup gets lo-jacked by a dude wearing white gloves.



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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2016, 11:15:39 am »
It's April and the Penguins are surging.
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Dan in Toronto

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2016, 05:34:46 pm »
It's April and the Penguins are surging.

They might actually be better with Matt Murray in net over the long haul.
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Bill_in_Phoenix

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Re: How the top Stanley Cup contenders stack up
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2016, 08:53:22 pm »
They might actually be better with Matt Murray in net over the long haul.
I'm not so sure about that.  But at least it means they have two quality goalies.  Reminds me a bit of when Andy Moog backed up Grant Fuhr.

I think whomever comes out of the Wales Conference will prevail.  The Blues and Sharks are decent teams, but I don't think either could win in seven games over the winner of Pens/Caps.
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