There are 24 teams in the NHL’s two hub cities for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and one of them is going to emerge as the winner.
That means 23 teams are going to fall short. The odds are not in your team’s favor.
The entire format (extra teams, a four-month layoff from the regular season, no travel, etc.) adds even more uncertainty and unpredictability to the playoffs and, quite honestly, probably anything is capable of happening this postseason.
With that in mind let us take a quick look at why your favorite team can, and can not, be the one team to win it all.
Why they won’t win: It is just hard to imagine a team without a true impact player at center winning the Stanley Cup.
Why they won’t win: They are still a fairly top-heavy team offensively and could eventually run into a deeper team that could cancel out their top line and win the depth game.
Why they can win: They have been the best team in the NHL this season and only lost 14 games in regulation.
Why they won’t win: They overachieved in the regular season a year ago and have regressed back to being what they truly are — a solid, but unspectacular team.
Why they can win: Johnny Gaudreau gets a fresh start after the four-month break and has a breakout postseason performance to carry the team.
Why they won’t win: I just don’t know if I trust the goaltending situation. That could be their undoing.
Why they can win: Their defense is so good, especially if Dougie Hamilton plays, that it may not matter what their goaltenders do.
Why they won’t win: They were on track for a third straight non-playoff season, have not won a playoff series in five years, were the 12th place team in a mediocre Western Conference, the 23rd overall team in the NHL, have a lousy defense, and put up the white flag on their season when they traded their pending free agents before the trade deadline.
Why they can win: The roster is loaded and set up for sustained long-term success. They should be considered one of the top contenders in the entire league.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Why they won’t win: Great story this season, better team than anyone gave them credit for at the start and have overcome a ton. Part of it still feels like a mirage.
Why they won’t win: They simply do not score enough goals. On the other hand…
Why they can win: They simply do not give up any goals.
Why they can win: Nobody else in the league has the two aforementioned megastars and those guys are capable of greatness.
Why they won’t win: Absolutely no defensive structure on this team.
Why they can win: Sergei Bobrovsky slays his postseason demons and plays like the goalie they threw $70 million at.
Why they won’t win: Nothing about this roster says “Stanley Cup team.”
Why they will win: Maybe 2020 is crazy enough for the Minnesota Wild to win it all.
Why they won’t win: They were the 24th place team in the league for a reason. One of those big reasons: They do not have enough finishers offensively.
Why they can win: Carey Price goes back in time to the 2014-15 season and channels his all-world self.
Why they won’t win: Goaltending and special teams have both been a season long issue. Those are bad issues to have.
Why they can win: If they can find a way to fix one (or both) of those issues this is still a great team on paper.
New York Islanders
Why they won’t win: They have been a painfully average team for most of the season and were a bit overrated last year.
Why they will win: Barry Trotz is a top-tier coach and I believe in his ability to squeeze the most out of a sub-par roster.
New York Rangers
Why they won’t win: By nearly every objective measure (shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, expected goals) this is a truly dreadful defensive hockey team.
Why they won’t win: I still do not fully trust their defense.
Why they can win: This was a truly outstanding team this season and they finally have a goalie.
Why they won’t win: The goaltending will be their ultimate undoing.
Why they can win: The rest of the roster is loaded with a couple of Hall of Famers and a bunch of All-Stars.
St. Louis Blues
Why they won’t win: There is a reason almost no team repeats as champions in the NHL. It takes a ton of luck.
Why they can win: They are still a great team and are getting Vladimir Tarasenko back after not having him for most of the season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Why they won’t win: Until this core actually does it there always be skepticism toward them.
Why they can win: It is the best team in the league on paper and the great teams eventually put it together.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Why they won’t win: The defense fails them again.
Why they can win: They have too much offensive talent to keep failing.
Why they won’t win: The bottom half of their lineup might be the worst of all 24 teams in the tournament.
Why they can win: They have a great young core of players that is worth tuning in to see every night.
Vegas Golden Knights
Why they can win: When healthy and the goaltending is there this might be the best team in the West.
Why they won’t win: Braden Holtby can not get hot at the right time again and they have no Plan B behind him.
Why they can win: If Holtby does get hot this is still an elite roster.
Why they won’t win: The defense still has way too many holes.
Why they can win: Connor Hellebuyck can mask a lot of flaws.