Due to this severely unprecedented time, it is safe to say that each team has some sort of shot at the Stanley Cup, and no team necessarily has a huge edge over the other. There are teams missing certain players, it has been months since games have been played, and every day it seems like another team has anounced another players undisclosed reason for being deemed “not fit to participate” in play and practices. However, every organization has something to be proud of, something that gives them hope that they can do well in this years playoff.
Being the best team in the league is no easy feat, but this Boston squad is so good, that they made it look easy. This team is full of amazing scorers. Brad Marchand had 87 points; Torey Krug had 49 points, even as a defenseman; Patrice Bergeron scored 31 goals; and although David Pasternak’s return seems a bit uncertain, he came up with 95 points, and will be a dominant threat when the Boston Bruins give him the “okay” to play. The Bruins goaltending has been spectacular, with Vezina Trophy finalist, Tuukka Rask, putting up a clinic this season, with a record of 26-8-6; a 2.12 goals against average; and a .929 save percentage. This bruising team also has a ton of playoff experience, with a total of 22 players playing in playoff games over their career. The experience is very crucial, as it gives them a better idea of the competitive edge that they have to hone into coming in to each game.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have a great playoff team. They have a ton of experience and they have a load of guys that can produce both offensively and defensively. Nikita Kucherov had another great year for Tampa, coming up with 85 points; and Norris Trophy finalist, Victor Hedman, had a total of 55 points. Their goaltending is stellar as well. Just like Tuukka Rask, Andrei Vasilevskiy earned a Vezina finalist spot as well. With 35 wins, a 2.56 goals against average, and a .917 save percentage; the honor is well deserved.
The Capitals have a lot to be proud of. With amazing offensive talent, led by scoring machine, Alex Ovechkin; a solid defensive core, lead by Norris Trophy finalist, John Carlson; and a young and up and coming starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who is ready to take over for Braden Holtby, if his playoff numbers stay consistent with the ones from the regular season, this team can take on any other. With loads of playoff experience and a 90 point 2019-20 campaign, Washington is a force to be reckoned with.
Although the Flyers numbers do not stick out as high as the other round robin teams, this is a team that I think can make a deep playoff run. Their offensive depth is very deep. They have guys like Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes (the list goes on and on), who can come up with great offensive production. They have great guys on defense, with Ivan Provorov leading the charge; and their goaltending has a chance to be spectacular, with up and coming elite starter, Carter Hart, manning the crease. This well-rounded team is not one you want to sleep on.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Although the Maple Leafs had an up and down season this year, it can all turn around in the playoffs. This team is loaded with young point scorers like Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and a lot more. There defense and goaltending were a bit shaky, but if Frederik Anderson stays healthy and their top defenseman play to their full potential, it would not surprise me if they make it past a few rounds.
Columbus Blue Jackets
No one would have thought, at the beginning of the season, that the Blue Jackets would be a playoff team this year. They lost Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel; amazing top six forwards that are hard to replace. However, Coach John Tortorella pushed this young team to the limit, and created a force to be reckoned with. The goaltending was superb, with both Joonis Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins blowing everyone’s expectations away. Their defense was spectacular, being led by Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. The offensive production wasn’t anything to write home about, but each player contributed evenly, and that is why they are in the position that they are in today.
For as long as I can remember, the Penguins have always been a great team, and this year was no exception. Many of their star players came up big, like Evgeni Malkin recording 74 points and Sidney Crosby, despite missing many games due to injury, still came up with over a point per game. They have great depth down the lineup and their defense is solid as well. They also have an interesting goaltending situation, with both Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry switching off as the starter; so if one of them does poorly in the playoffs, we know the other one can step up and dominate. Pittsburgh is surely a team that you want to look out for.
The Canadiens are the obvious underdogs in this years playoff. They have the worst point percentage out of either conference, and their team mostly consists of young up and coming players. However, they have a few bright spots on their team; like goaltender Carey Price who has done well in past playoffs. Their defense isn’t bad either, being led by Shea Weber; and their offense has a few young studs like Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin who could easily make an impact in the playoffs.
New York Islanders
Coach Barry Trotz is certainly doing something right with this team. Every aspect is very solid; from their offense led by Mathew Barzal, their sturdy defense, and their goaltending; where duties are shared between Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov. They have great depth offensively and have true leaders for each line; like Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Jean Gabriel Pageau, and Matt Martin. This is certainly a team to watch in the playoffs.
The Panthers are my favorite team, and I do not want to be too biased, but their are a lot of things that I like about this squad going into the playoffs. Florida is great offensively; with guys like Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and Evgeni Dadonov producing a lot offensively. I have seen some strides in the right direction defensively, thanks to Coach Q; and if Bobrovski plays like he normally does in the playoffs, the Panthers should be alright. They have a few things to work on, but if they fix them right they could be deadly.
The Hurricanes have a great young team and are so much fun to watch. Guys like Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen are doing great offensively. They have a great blueline, led by guys like Dougie Hamilton and Jacob Slavin. Reimer and Mrazek are great as a hybrid goaltending pair. This team can be solid going through the playoffs, and I would not be surprised if they made a run like last year.
New York Rangers
The Rangers are young, but powerful. They have great forwards who put up tons of points this season, like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibenejad. They have a great young goalie in Igor Shesterkin, and it already seems as though he has taken over Henrik Lundqvist’s starting spot. They have an amazing defensive core; with guys like Tony Deangelo, Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba, and so much more. This team can easily upset some of the best.
theFHN has partnered with FNX Fitness who “is committed to creating innovative supplements of the highest quality that provide focus for a productive morning, energy to thrive all day, performance supplements to reach new goals, unique sleep and recovery formulas to support any sport, and healthy supplements to support an active lifestyle for years to come.”
Listeners of theFHN and it’s family of podcasts can save 15% on your order with promo code: TheFHN – click the image below to check out all their supplements, gear and more.