After the Los Angeles Kings made arguably the most improbable run to the Stanley Cup in the history of the NHL, fans across North America must believe one thing: "If an eighth seed can come out of the Western Conference after barely making it into the playoffs, then my favorite team can do that!"
In some cases, absolutely. In others, no. Not so much.
We are talking about separating the pretenders from the contenders. The cream from the crop.
One could argue that the Kings made an unlikely charge to the Stanley Cup, but anyone looking at that team knew that the pieces were there once they made the playoffs.
While they didn't present their case well during the regular season, on paper this was a team with a well-rounded offence that could get goals from all four lines. They also boasted big-bodied forwards that weren't afraid to get to the net.
They iced several notable blueliners as well, capable of both preventing goals and scoring them.
And then there was the goaltender, Jonathan Quick. Saying that he made timely saves would be an understatement, but the Kings knew exactly what they had between the pipes every single night.
These components—and so much more—made LA Cup contenders. So who has a shot at winning the whole thing through a shortened, sprint-like NHL season now that the lockout is tentatively over, and who is living in a dream world?