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These teams currently aren’t talked about enough have the potential to make a Stanley Cup run
By: Christopher Yackel
There are plenty of powerhouse teams that come to mind when your thinking of who has the best chance to win the Stanley Cup this season. Teams like Tampa Bay, Boston, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Winnipeg and even the surprising Vegas Golden Knights all come to mind. As we approach the trade deadline on February 26th teams will do there best to improve for the stretch run into the playoffs. There are teams however, that are not in the “Powerhouse” category that have a ton of potential. These teams can make a run in the playoffs and to a possible Stanley Cup Final or Stanley Cup victory.
30-20-11 (71 points, 4th in the Pacific, 9th in the Western Conference)
What’s there not to like about this team. They are deep defensively with a big heavy blue line, that includes Josh Manson, Brandon Montour and Kevin Bieksa. They also have great puck moving defenseman like Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm.
They are so deep on the back end that they were able to afford trading a stud puck moving reliable defenseman like Sami Vatanen, who was an important part of their playoff run last spring. Offensively you have young forwards like Rickard Rakell, Ondrej Kase, Jakob Silfverberg and Nick Ritchie picking up some heavy work load. There is no denying though the ones that will carry the team this playoffs will be Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry. Getzlaf has missed significant time due to injury this season, but is still producing at about a point per game pace (36 points in 37 games).
Kesler didn’t return to the lineup until January and hasn’t been his usual self thus far this season, but will definitely help down the middle come playoff time. Finally, Corey Perry may be long removed from his days of being a 50 goal scorer, but he still will be a force that will drive other team’s crazy this spring, just as he did last year. This team has a lot of depth with guys like Andrew Cogliano, Adam Henrique and Antoine Vermette. They are extremely deep up the middle with Getzlaf, Kesler and Vermette and come playoff time depth scoring and being deep up the middle are essential to a team’s success.
John Gibson and his .925 save percentage has also given the Ducks great goaltending as the 24-year-old Pittsburgh native is certainly coming into his own with Anaheim. This is a team that has overcome a ton of injury this season to key players and is just finally starting to come into his own. They are winners of three straight and are just outside a playoff spot, but are well within striking distance. I love this team come playoff time and I think they are more than capable of making a deep run. They have a ton of experience including two conference finals appearances in two years and will certainly be a dangerous threat to the Western Conference come playoff time.
34-21-4 (72 points 3rd in the Central, 5th in the Western Conference)
This team finally has goaltending and is much improved defensively to go along with their high powered offense. Ben Bishop has done good job giving the Stars solid goaltending with his .916 save percentage. Under Ken Hitchcock this team is playing much better defensive hockey and it starts with having only 157 goals against this season which is fourth in the entire NHL.
Defenseman John Klingberg also looks like a Norris Trophy candidate as he’s looked phenomenal this year leading the team with 54 points. The big guns of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been great this season as well. The addition of a guy like Alex Radulov has been great as well as he is tied for second on the team in points with 53. This team has good depth as well, with guys like Radek Faska Mattias Janmark, Jason Spezza and Antoine Roussel.
It took growing pains in the beginning to get this high flying Stars team to commit to defense, but they certainly have. They finally have committed to good defensive play and goaltending they’ve been looking for since the 2015-16 season. This team looks like a team that has a ton of potential to do some serious damage these playoffs.
31-19-10 (72 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan, 6th in Eastern Conference)
Last year this team became the first team ever to miss the playoffs after having a 10 game winning streak. This year they could make the playoffs after having a 10 game losing streak.
The re-emergence of captain Claude Giroux, who looks like a superstar again this season, as well as the great play from Jakub Voraeck, Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere has helped the Flyers get back into playoff contention this season. This is a team that long term needs goaltending even with trading for Petr Mrazek.
However, Mrazek who has had a bit of a falling out with Detroit should do great with a fresh start on this Flyers team. If this team can continue to get scoring from their top guns, get good goaltending and stay healthy then they have a great chance to do damage this spring.
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