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Who Is Going to Win the Stanley Cup in the Upcoming Season?
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Who Is Going to Win the Stanley Cup in the Upcoming Season?

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With less than 10 days until hockey season begins, the sports analysts of the USA Really try to predict who will win the Cup.

Though it’s just too early to say any particular team will win hockey’s most prestigious trophy, we can feature the teams most likely to lead the competition. Who are favorites to win in the 102nd season of the National Hockey League?

According to the prediction of USA Really, the five teams to be the favorites of the season are:

5. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins make it to the fifth position of our list since they’ve managed to save their squad this inter-season. The Penguins have been dominate within the League for the last five seasons, and have earned two out of five Stanley Cups (2016, 2017) in this period of time. With their frontline goaltender Matt Murray (save percentage 90.8 % last season) and his most likely back-up Tristan Jarry (who holds similar records), the goalie line of Pittsburgh is sure to be one of the strongest in the league this season. The Penguins’ goalies will receive full support from Chris Letang and Olli Maatta, who are still among the best defenders in the NHL. Forwards Evgeni Malkin (42 goals + 56 assists last year in regular, 4 goals and 4 assists in the play-offs) and Sidney Crosby (29+60, 9+12), are two of the brightest stars in all the league and in the world hockey in general, and they always create dozens of opportunities for the Penguins to be as sharp on the offense.

Another question is, have the opponents of the Penguins learned much about their tactics? The Penguins’ overall strategy hasn’t changed much over the last years, so some teams might be uniquely successful in finding the keys to it. The head coach Mike Sullivan will have to invent something incredible to surprise other NHL teams.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets are on the list for two reasons: goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and left forward Artemi Panarin. One of the most progressive, and yet unpredictable, teams of the league is facing a serious challenge. The two team leaders haven’t re-signed their contracts for the next season, so the whole squad must put their whole effort to convince Bobrovsky and Panarin to stay. Panarin beat the Jacket’s all-time scoring record last season with 82 points, and he is surely capable of even more. And Panarin is still younger than Malkin and Crosby, so this season is crucial for him to answer the question of whether he stays “eternally promising” or becomes a true star of the NHL. Bobrovsky, on his hand, has to prove the comparatively failed last season was just bad luck. With defenders Marcus Nutivaara, Seth Jones, and center Brandon Dubinsky, and a dying desire to win, Columbus is surely going to be one of the favorites of the upcoming season.

3. Vegas Golden Knights

Much has been said about the miracle of the Golden Knights, the team that existed only on paper only a year and a half ago. Against all odds, the Knights made it to the Stanly Cup Final last season, beating opponents and bookmakers to tears. This inter-season, it is impossible the Vegas team became weaker while adding experienced forwards Max Pacioretty (448 points in 626 games for Montreal Canadiens in 10 NHL seasons) and Paul Stastny (646 in 824 for Colorado Avalanche and St.Louis Blues) to the roster. Too bad the Vegas Golden Knights aren’t considered underdogs anymore. The fact that we are witnessing the birth of one of the strongest franchises, not only of this season, but the upcoming decade as well – is beyond any doubt.  How can you not love this franchise? They just do everything right. And chances are we see them in the Finals for the second season in a row.

2. Washington Capitals

As Alex Ovechkin (49+38, 15+12 – what a remarkable result that is, especially – in terms of play-offs!) has finally realized his gestalt, winning the Stanley Cup last season. His destiny is to transform into an unbeatable monster-goal-scoring-machine this season: even stronger than he is now. Nothing to lose, Alex: you are already a legend, the best. With one of the most stable goaltenders of this generation, Braden Holtby (holding 91.9 % career-long save percentage), and defenders Dmitry Orlov (“a shadow leader” of the Capitals with 10+21, 2+6 whose huge work done in the back), Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, not to forget about the rising star of the league center Evgeny Kusnetsov (27+56, 12+20 last season; if nothing extraordinary happens, Kuznetsov is going to be one of the brightest stars of the 2020’s in the National Hockey League) and Ovechkin’s best friend on the attack, Nicklas Backstrom (21+50, 5+18), the Washington Capitals will show up to the starting line of the brand new season in an unbelievably strong state. 

1. San Jose Sharks

It would be too boring to place Washington in the #1 spot, yet there is another reason for the Sharks to be crowning this list. This reason is directly connected to the loudest trade made this inter-season, as Erik Karlsson has moved to sunny California from the capital of Canada. Karlsson’s overall stat sheet is impressive: 627 games played for the Senators in the last nine regular seasons (with the exception of 2012-2013), earning 518 points (126 goals and 392 assists) there, as well as 37 points (6 goals and 31 assists) in the post-season across 46 games. Karlsson is considered to be a great addition to the roster of one of the leading Pacific Division teams. The Sharks are the team of veterans: their leaders are far older than those of any other team in the League. Joe Thornton (with NHL total 397 goals and 1030 assists earned, since, just think of it, ‘97-98 for Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks) is 39. Team captain Joe Pavelski (697 points in 888 games for the Sharks since ‘06-07) is 34. When, if not this season, are these two great players going to win the Stanley Cup? As the Sharks have also acquired Evander Kane (354 points in 574 games for Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks themselves) the team from California has all chances to win the title.

Author: USA Really