Every year at this time, every hockey fan loves to make their picks on who is going to win the stanley cup. And every hockey fan that makes those picks get blinded by all strong points they make and are believed that they are correct. Now I'd be a hypocrite to say that my picks are the best, but I've tried to break it down as best as possible and really give a true estimate on the real stanley cup contenders.
To start, this season is harder to predict then any other past seasons. About half the 16 teams that make the playoffs will have a legitimate chance to go all the way. Off the top of my head, the Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils all have great odds to win the cup. However, you can never count out, (especially considering all the surprises this season) teams like the Phoenix Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red-Wings, Los Angeles Kings. Even a few wild-cards such as the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators, or the Philadelphia Flyers can upset the favourites. But all in all, the top 5 teams that have the best chance at winning the cup this year are, the Washington Capitals, the New Jersey Devils, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks, and the Detroit Red-Wings.
The Washington Capitals are my favourite to win the east. Why? Simply because they have the best offense in the NHL, averaging almost 4 goals per game! They have the most depth in the league, and arguably the most dangerous line in the NHL with Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, & of-course, Alexander Ovechkin. Followed by a pretty powerful 2nd line in Mike Knuble who has 28 goals this season while missing more then a few games. Brendan Morrison who is a +22 on the season, & Brooks Laich who has 25 goals and 58 points this season. People say their goaltending is the reason they won't win but Washington doesn't need amazing goaltending. A team like Phoenix, Montreal, or New Jersey need amazing goaltending, a team like Washington needs slightly above average goaltending from Jose Theodore, or Semyon Varlamov. The reason that is is because of their spectacular offense which is at 3.81 goal per game. The New Jersey Devils are a top contender because they have a great combination of a power-house offensive line & the best goaltender in the world. The Devils are a team that will live and die by their goaltending. Martin Brodeur I think will lead them far into the playoffs if he plays like he did the past couple of games. (2 shutouts.) Not forgeting Ilya Kovalchuk up-front, Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, Travis Zajac, Brian Rolston, I think if Brodeur keeps up the good work at a consistent level, the Devils can win 4/7 against the Flyers or Bruins, or even the Penguins if they meet up, after all, New Jersey IS 6-0-0 vs. Pittsburgh this season. The Chicago Blackhawks are a favourite to win it all by many teams. Chicago has the likes of Patrick Kane who is at his best right now, Jonothan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Versteeg, Byfuglien, Brouwer and a pretty strong defensive core in Keith, Seabrook, and Campell. However if Campell can't return in time for the playoffs, that will definetly by a huge blow to the Blackhawks. But Chicago has one of the best core roster in the NHL, with extreme depth to their line-up, the Blackhawks will be a very hard team to beat in the playoffs. That is if Antti Niemi can hold his ground. And that is the concern for me. Antti Niemi has been a GREAT goaltender in the regular season, but we've seen time and time again, a great regular season means nothing if you can't play good in the playoffs ala Evgeni Nabokov, Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo. And once Chicago runs into a powerful offensive team like San Jose, Vancouver, or Washington, I'm not so sure Antti Niemi can stand his ground without being hit from physical or even emotional fatigue at a consistent pace. The Vancouver Canucks on paper, look like a dream team, Henrik Sedin, 107 points, Daniel Sedin, 80 points, Alexander Burrows, 35 goals, Ryan Kesler, 24 goals, Mike Samuelsson, 30 goals, Mason Raymond, 25 goals. However the Canucks will not go far if Roberto Luongo chokes. Kinda like he did last year in the 2nd round vs. Chicago. However, if Luongo can play like we all know he can, and steal a few games for the Canucks, some say they can go all the way and win it all. But I'm not convinced yet that Luongo has that in him. Then again he did win gold in Vancouver. The Detroit Red-Wings are in my top 5 to win the cup simply because, the Red-Wings are WINNERS. They have a history of winning and even though they were in 9th or 10th place earlier in the season, you can never count out the 2 time defending Western Conference Champions. They were injured for most of the season with Zetterbeg playing in 72/80 games, Johan Franzen playing in JUST 25/80 games, Niklas Kronwall playing in only 46/80 games, Filpulla playing in 53/80 games, Dan Cleary playing in 62/80 games, and Tomas Holstrom playing in 66/80 games. They've proven that when their healthy, they are still dominant. Since the Olympic break, they have gone an outstanding 14-3-2. Mark my words, Do not count out the Detroit Red-Wings.
So there you have it, those are the 5 real cup contenders of 2010. And no, Pittsburgh will NOT win the cup this year. They have not been consistent and will not beat New Jersey or Washington, they are 0-10 combined against those 2 teams. I'm calling right now, the Washington Capitals will win the Stanley Cup in 2010.