The Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to kick off this Wednesday as 16 teams search for the coveted 16th win over the next two months. With every team starting at zero wins, here is how they stack up heading into the 2019 playoffs.
16. Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche are going to have a tough time if they can’t get any production outside of the top line.
15. Dallas Stars
Dallas will have their hands full with the Predators. They are going to need more than Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn to come through to have a chance in this series. Ben Bishop might need to play the role of God in order to escape Nashville.
14. Carolina Hurricanes
The storm surge has to end sometime, and Hurricanes die going over land after a while. The Hurricanes magical run could come to an abrupt end sooner than later.
13. Columbus Blue Jackets
It will be a tall order for the Blue Jackets in this one. They get the honor of facing the Lightning in round one after just squeaking in. They made solid moves at the trade deadline and could challenge the Lightning if they can get good defense and clutch goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky.
12. St Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington is going to have to be lights out against the Jets if the Blues want to advance to round two. Overall, Winnipeg is deeper than the Blues which could cause issues in a long series.
11. Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights have a tough challenge against the Sharks but they have an advantage in net. This could help propel them to an upset.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs
A great offense with the likes of Auston Matthews and John Tavares have carried the Maple Leafs but lack of size and defense might be an issue. The Jake Muzzin move was nice but it doesn’t plug all their holes.
9. New York Islanders
The Islanders are a stingy defensive team and allowed the fewest goals against in the entire league (196), which could work to their benefit. But the lack of goal scoring could be problematic.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins
A team full of talent but the ingredients to this point have not overly impressive. They do have playoff experience with their recent Cup runs. In addition, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are still elite players with good role players to help.
7. Nashville Predators
Strong defense but a goalie with a history of soft goals in clutch situations. Can they go one step further than they did a couple of years ago when they reached the Finals?
6. Winnipeg Jets
A deep team from top to bottom but an unproven playoff goalie in Connor Hellebuyck could be their biggest obstacle.
5. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks employ a great offense, powered by four 30-goal scorers in Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, and Evander Kane. In addition, they sport a solid defense but two goalies in Martin Jones and Aaron Dell that carry a sub-.900 save percentage.
4. Washington Capitals
The defending champion Capitals have a great offense led by one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history in Alexander Ovechkin. Braden Holtby has been rock solid in the playoffs in the past and they hope he recaptures that for another deep playoff run.
3. Calgary Flames
A great offense mixed with a so-so defense and not so great discipline. If the Flames can clean up the discipline issues and play right, things should work out just fine. The only thing that may hurt them that they can’t change is a lack of experience.
2. Boston Bruins
A good offense and a great defense should be a winning combination. The Bruins need to clean up their issues allowing short-handed goals. Otherwise, this team looks to be the biggest threat to the Lightning as they have the depth to match. As well as an extremely potent set of skill players in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
A team full of skill and talent up and down the lineup that secured 62 wins in the regular season. But why are they not the overwhelming favorites? Tampa has had strong regular seasons in the past, including just last year with many of the same pieces. At this point, they need to prove they can withstand the full grind of the season from beginning to end. Last season, they were physically worn out by the time they faced the Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals. 62 wins means nothing unless you win the last game of the season.