With the St. Louis Blues going on an unimaginable run last season, bringing them to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, you do start to realize that anything can really happen in the playoffs. Now it’s unlikely we see another Cinderella story this playoffs, but we will see some extremely strong teams in some tight matchups, to make or some very exciting hockey!
Here’s our best assessment at this year’s contending teams!
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
With a disappointing showing last playoffs, being swept by Columbus after embarrassing the rest of the league during the regular season, the Bolts are looking to come back stronger than ever. An almost identical roster to last season, this could easily be the year they go far, but by also adding a 7th D in Bogosian and a solid 3rd line winger in Blake Coleman, Tampa isn’t taking any chances and are loading up for a run!
Yet another season goes by since 2011 where the Bruins can’t close the deal, a super consistent team however that continues to push for the cup. With some of their veteran players starting to show signs of aging (Krejci, Chara, Rask and Bergeron) their time to make that final push might be coming to a close. With that being said, the incredible play from Pastrnak and Marchand up front is too much to glance over, as they continue to dominate defenses across the league.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Gloria! Gloria! Can the Blues repeat their incredible run last season? The Blues are without a question one of the favourites this season, with one of the most deep rosters in the league and all the hype surrounding them. But some questions do linger, with the future of Jay Bouwmeester in question after his health scare, and the return of Vladimir Tarasenko after his season long injury. Do the Blues have what it take to return to the top?
There’s been a lot of storylines surrounding the Caps, with Ovechkin chasing Gretzky’s goal record, and it’s only going to get more exciting as they are poised to make a long run this playoffs. With the additions of Brendan Dillon, and Ilya Kovalchuk the Caps are all in this year, looking to make a return to the finals since their championship two seasons ago. These additions bring a more balanced roster, adding further offence with Kovalchuk and a solid defensive defenseman in Dillon, and with playoff experience coming from both.
DARKHORSE PICK: VANCOUVER CANUCKS
It wouldn’t be a proper playoff prediction without our darkhorse pick, so we’ve taken a stab at one of the league's most interesting teams. The Canucks are having quite a streaky season, with getting hit by the injury bug so often, but when hot they show that they can contend with the best. With Jacob Markstrom back from injury and playing fantastic, the addition of Tyler Toffoli from Los Angeles and the incredible rookie season from Quinn Hughes, Vancouver has a high-flying offensive team and can definitely make a push for the cup.
Who do you think is taking it all this year?