By Mike Olson
People all over Canada and the United States have been patiently waiting for this weekend since summer. The weekend the most exciting sport in the world makes a return, the National Hockey League. Experts are picking their favorite teams to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals so as my first season as a blogger why don’t I do the same.e thing.
The NHL: 30 teams, 82 games, 4,920 minutes, 8 grueling months of the body taking abuse. A schedule that can sometimes be gruesome with back to back games. Traveling from the east coast to the west coast and all over North America. There are 16 teams that qualify for the playoffs, 4 rounds of the best out of 7 series, and the toughest trophy to win in sports. So who holds the prized possession over their heads and skates around with the cup in 2016? Las Vegas has picked the Chicago Blackhawks (trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings ’97 and ’98 to win back to back championships) and the New York Rangers. However, personally I don’t think the Blackhawks can get back to the finals. Winning it 3 out of the last 6 seasons has to take a toll on those players. Not to mention they made some trades shipping of the likes of Patrick Sharp and had off the ice problems with Patrick Kane. Can the New York Rangers make another appearance in the finals? After all, they do have one of the best goalies in the league, Henrik Lundqvist, but haven’t been able to get over the hump in the playoffs. It’s possible but, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Therefore, I think two cities who aren’t the first two you think of when you think about hockey will be featured. The Anaheim Ducks and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
On paper these two teams matchup really well. The Lightning have one of the best players in the league in Steven Stamkos who can take over the game at any moment. A goalie who takes up the whole net and makes it tough to score, Ben Bishop, who is 6’7.” On the flip side of that you have a Ducks team who over the last few years have advanced further in the playoffs and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Lead by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and adding some experience by getting Kevin Bieska this team is young and hungry. I think they finally have a good goalie in Frederik Andersen that they can depend on not only in the regular season but also in the playoffs. This matchup would be a lot of fun, but in the end I think the Anaheim Ducks would take the series in 6 games.
Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens.