Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun

Connor McDavid
Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have finally begun. With the season ending last week, fans have been preparing for their team’s hopeful Stanley Cup Playoff run. Sixteen teams from qualified for this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, but only one team will walk away with the Stanley Cup.

But the question is, who will it be? Will it be a repeat for the Bolts? Another question might be potential upsets and what teams to look for there.

Potential Favorites

Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Brayden Point and the rest of the defending Stanley Cup Champion, Tampa Bay Lightning are hoping to get off to the right start. They defeated the Florida Panthers in game one of their first round series by a score of 5-4. The Lightning hope that they can continue their winning ways in order to repeat their fate from last season.

Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho, Andrei Schevnnikov and Dougie Hamilton will be leading the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs as they’ll face off against the Nashville Predators. They’ll hope to continue their regular season dominance to capture their first Stanley Cup since 2006.

The Colorado Avalanche are one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup if Tampa doesn’t repeat. With the likes of star players Nathan McKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, etc. The Avalanche have been one of the best teams in the league this season and they hope to continue that form in the playoffs. They will be looking to fire the Avalanche deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Bruins look to be pretty good this year with players like veterans Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and young and upcoming winger David Pasternak. They’ll hope those players can contribute well and help push the team into the late rounds of the playoffs.

Potential Underdogs

A team that could surprise a few are the Winnipeg Jets with the in-season addition trade of Pierre-Luc Dubois the Jets secured a spot in this years playoffs and they could upset Connor McDavids Edmonton Oilers. McDavid who scored 100 points this season hopes he can propel his team forward deep into the playoffs and avoid another early exit.

The Montreal Canadiens are another team that just sneaked into the playoffs and with their young core of players like Jonathan Drouin, Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, along with veteran goaltender Carey Price, veteran defender Shea Weber will look to lead the young core into a surprise run.

The St Louis Blues are the last team of underdogs in this playoff bracket as they will be facing off against the Colorado Avalanche who look to be one of biggest goal-scoring threats this season. With the likes of star players Nathan McKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, etc. They will be looking to fire the Avalanche deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Could past Stanley Cup Champs make a run?

Alexander Ovechkin will hope that he and his teammates can lead the Washington Capitals towards another Stanley Cup Championship that they had captured in 2018. Poor Performances have led to early exits in the last two seasons and they will hope that they can play well this year against the Boston Bruins.

The Blues on the other hand recently won the Stanley Cup in 2018, but after that haven’t been as much of a threat. They will be looking to cause a huge upset to one of the top-seeded teams. they will be looking to rely on veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko in hopes that he can be productive in the series so that the Blues can avoid an early exit.

Who could be headed for a potential early exit?

The Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t been the strongest team this year and they could be one of the team that is threatened by an early exit. Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, Evegeni Malkin will have to be in their best type of form to avoid a first round exit. Another team that might be on the early exit talk is the Florida Panthers, yes some fans might not agree but here’s why.

The Minnesota Wild take on the Vegas Golden Knights in which could be a very good series as both teams hold star players. The expansion team from 2018, Golden Knights have been a consistent team and could surprise a few into going for a deep run of the playoffs. Although they might not be favorites to win the whole championship. We can expect a great series.

The Florida Panthers have been a strong team all season with the likes of Aleksander Barkov, Johnny Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad leading them all the way to the playoffs. The strongest part of the Panthers is their attack with a total of 188 goals scored in the 56 game regular season according to ESPN. The leading scorer of the Panthers was Aleksander Barkov leading with 26 goals. The weakness is their defense with a lot of goals scored on the defense with a total of 151 goals allowed and over 1,000 shots allowed per ESPN. Something to watch out is their goaltending as it has been struggling through the whole year.

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