NHL 2018/2019 Playoff Predictions

NHL 2018/2019 Playoff Predictions

The 2018/2019 NHL season presents a whole new list of unknowns. Hockey fanatics and players cannot wait to unravel the mysteries.

The Washington Capitals put up a spirited fight to hoist the Stanley Cup last season. Even so, can they break their record to emerge victorious in the highly contested 2018/19 season? What kind of surprises are the Nashville Predators hiding up their sleeve after narrowly missing the coveted prize last year?

We might have to wait for a few more months to answer these burning questions. However, here is a close look at what to expect in the 2018/2019 season.

NHL 2018/19 Top 5 Contenders for the Stanley Cup

1. The Washington Capitals

The Washington CapitalsThe Washington Capitals edged out the Vegas Golden in a 4-3 victory. They won the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 44-year history in the league. Sitting atop North American Hockey, the team will not give up this honor easily. The Stanley hangover and the massive energy depletion from working through the playoffs present a small challenge for the team. But, the highs and lows of last season are still in their minds. So, everyone should expect each game to be full of action as they feverishly compete to retain the Stanley Cup.

The off-season did not bring any major changes to the squad. Ovechkin’s outstanding ability to score improves the team’s odds significantly. Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Lars Eller make up the league’s best center depth. Andre Burakovsky is likely to break out this season after he dwindled due to injuries last season. Also, look out for Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, and Madison Bowey.

2. The Boston Bruins

The Boston BruinsThe Boston Bruins became a team to fear on all fronts through years of consistent hard work. Last season saw them finish fourth in the league at 112 points, a point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team’s strength stems from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The players deserve personal recognition for the work they did to take the team through the playoffs.

Young skilled players, Ryan Donato and Anders Bjork show great potential for a break out this coming season. Charlie McAvoy, with his strong young legs, holds a special place in the heart of Boston fans. He defended the team magnificently last season. Too bad Anton Khudobin left and the team cannot rely on him to cover up Tuukka Rask’s inconsistency.

3. The Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple LeafsIn the recent years, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primarily focused on drafting the team to become a top contender for the Stanley Cup. One would be right to say that rebuild ended following the addition of the formidable John Tavares. The team has a deadly offense this off-season. The team recorded their best performance last season by finishing seventh in the league at 105 points. Expect the team to bring a doubly lethal offense to the pitch with the six talents.

Even if they failed to bring in Tavares this off-season, the team has Nazem Kadri. He is a top row third line center. They also have the young, motivated Kapanen and Johnsson. Toronto can rely on their leading man in defense, Morgan Reilly. But the defense still needs some work to transform the team into a Stanley Cup favorite.

4. The Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg JetsThe Winnipeg Jets finished second last season at 114 points. They blew away every expectation and every door that stood in their way. It was a record year for the team. Now they need to take a final bold step to walk away with the Stanley Cup. By housing one of the youngest rosters in the league, the Winnipeg Jets are an offensive powerhouse.

At 19 years of age, the young Finnish star, Patrik Laine, finished second in the entire league at 44 goals. This threshold has only been met by Alex Ovechkin. Other young talents include the underrated center, Mark Schiefele, and the 91-point season, Blake Wheeler. Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor also deserve mention for developing into top-rated forwards in the wings.

5. The Nashville Predators

The Nashville PredatorsThe Nashville Predators missed the Stanley Cup last season. But they walked away with the Presidents’ Trophy for accumulating the most points in the entire league at 117. Adding the Stanley Cup to the President’s trophy should not surprise anyone this season.

Many fans complained that the team failed to make improvements this off-season. But honestly, they have everything it takes to take home the cup. The team’s defense is compact with P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. The trio is great offensively, they present a solid defense, and they can defeat any team with mighty physical shoves.

Each line in the offense constitutes all the crucial elements necessary to make a deep playoff run. Also, Pekka Rinne was last season’s best goaltender and Vezina Trophy winner. It’s easy to understand why we are looking at the next Stanley Cup holders.

NHL 2018/19 Top Comebacks

1. The Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh PenguinsThe Pittsburgh Penguins fell from defending the Stanley Cup for the second time in a row. They finished 10th with only 100 points last season. The Penguins now refocus themselves to reclaim their position at the top by clinching a sixth Stanley Cup. The team has an unusual ability to get the job done no matter the odds.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin hold the fort in the mid-field. Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist fortify the wings. This combination looks better each year. Pittsburgh, however, did not have a good off-season. Not much will change in the wings and defense with the new arrivals, Jack Johnson and Matt Cullen. Both of them have seen better days.

2. The Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa SenatorsAt 67 points, the Ottawa Senators finished 31st in the league last season. It was a huge disappointment for many fans. Accepting the 31 point drop from the previous season was hard. Realistically, it could get worse in the coming season. But remember the look on everyone’s face when the Vegas Golden Knights made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals? They were the worst placed of the 31 teams. They proved to everyone that anything is possible in the NHL.

The team’s assistant manager recently resigned after running into trouble for harassment during the off-season. Unfortunately, this event destabilized management so close to the season. On the other hand, Erik Karlsson and Matt Duchene are skilled players on the team. The Ottawa Senators are a strong contender for the cup this season.

3. The Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red WingsThe Red Wings’ fall from grace has been harsh and painful. Nothing the team does is enough to stir up their lucky star for victory. Perhaps the aging players like Zetterberg and Kronwall need to up their game. They can inspire the young capable players to give more.

Both Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin aim for a break out this season. Who knows, with no injuries, the team might make it to the playoffs as a possible comeback.

4. The Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota WildThe Minnesota Wild never missed the playoffs for single year. But somehow, although they put their best foot forward, not a lot has happened to win them the Stanley Cup. Last season, they accrued 101 points before the Winnipeg Jets extinguished any hope they had to get to the finals.

While it is hard to imagine a different fate for this team, several things may work in their favor. Ryan Suter has years of experience in NHL. The upcoming Matt Dumba, talented Jared Spurgeon, and the unstoppable Devan Dubnyk are also key players.

Who Will Win the 2018/19 Stanley Cup?

This is a hard nut to crack as the top five Stanley Cup contenders lock horns. All intend to hoist the most coveted cup in the hockey world. Eriksson’s arrival to the Ottawa Senators has them looking scary, but so does the offense powerhouse, Winnipeg Jets. The Washington Capitals will also put up a fierce fight as the defending champions.

Very few people foresaw the championship being won by the Washington Capitals instead of the boisterous Golden Knights. Anything is possible in the NHL 2018/2019 season. Who are you putting your money on?

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