The President trophy is no more than an object at year end. Since the creation of the trophy in 1985, only eight teams have achieved both the Presidents Trophy and Lord Stanley. Though history may scare Washington Capital fans; who’s team is poised to finish the year leading the NHL in Points. The President trophy is no stranger to the Washington Capitals who won the trophy back in the 2009-10 season, but then lost in the first round of the NHL playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens. Which proves that if a team succeeds in the regular season, they may not be built for playoff hockey.
Based on the Standings of February 29, 2016 the playoff matchups would be;
Washington (1) vs Pittsburgh (8)
Florida (2) vs Detroit (7)
New York Rangers (3) vs New York Islanders (6)
Tampa Bay (4) vs Boston (5)
Having an elite defenceman in the NHL is a MUST. The past seven Stanley Cup Champions have had that true number one Defenceman that gives your team a quality 25+ minutes a game. Any defenceman can play 25 minutes a game, but it is the quality and the efficiency that makes a true elite defenceman.
Starting with the number 1 seed in the East, The Washington Capitals. The depth on defence for the Washington Capitals has been undervalued and extremely underrated. The top four defencemen for the Washington Capitals; Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Karl Alzer, and Nate Schmidt have played an average of 18minutes a game. It is evident that Trotz and GM Brian MacLellan have faith in the defence they have, not making any trades at the deadline, even though their defence still raises some questions. Back in their disappointing ending in 2009 the top four defencemen; Mike Green, Tom Poti, Jeff Shultz, Joe Corvo played an average of 21 minutes a game. With Mike Green being the “number 1” shut down defencemen, the 09 season was destined to fail based on previous NHL seasons. Washington is set with their forwards, ranking first in the NHL in goals per game with 3.26. The Capitals have improved their defence from previous years, but they are still missing that defenceman that teams fear. Although the depth is impressive, teams like; NYR, the Redwings, the Bruins, and the Penguins will give the Capitals an extremely tough time. It isn’t just for one game either, but they have to compete for an entire series, and we all know what happens to the Capitals in high pressure situations… The Washington Capitals will disappoint again.
Capitals Prediction: Eliminated 1st Round
The number 8 seed, the Pittsburgh Penguins are no stranger to the NHL Playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had success in the past, but then have had inconsistent goaltending lead them to elimination. Crosby has also been inconsistent in the Playoffs, but lucky for him he has Malkin to pick him up when opposing teams find a way to shut him down. Pittsburgh also have the luxury of a “number 1” defencemen (Letang) that can slow down opposing forwards. Their round one opponent the Washington Capitals don’t have that luxury, therefore having no shot at shutting down; Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqvist, Kessel. The Penguins have plenty of depth on both offence and defence, the type of depth that can lead them to the Cup final.
Penguins Prediction: Stanley Cup Final
Florida is this year’s shock. Every NHL season a team comes out of no where, and is the top of the league. Although the Panthers have a top pairing defencemen, it is their experience that should worry Panthers fans. Ekblad who will be a Norris trophy candidate in the coming years is only in his second NHL season, therefore will experience trouble playing 30+ minutes a game that will be asked of him in the NHL playoffs. The entire Florida team consists of exciting young talent, but the 2016 NHL playoffs is not the year the talent will carry them throughout the playoffs.
Panthers Prediction: Eliminated 1st Round
Detroit has made the playoffs the past 24 seasons. The Red Wings are loaded with experienced veterans, and even possess Calder nominee Dylan Larkin. Mrazek has been carrying the team throughout the year, as the offence is ranked in the bottom ten in the league in goals scored per game averaging 2.5 goals per game, which is second worst out of the potential playoff teams. Detroit’s experience will overtake the Panthers inexperience, and will end the series without any problems. The Red Wings got a gift in the first round, but then the rest of the playoffs are a different story.
Red Wings Prediction: Eliminated 2nd round
Coming off a game 7 loss in last year conference finals the New York Rangers are coming into the playoffs looking for vengeance. Having arguably the best goaltender in the NHL, that can carry any NHL team to the Cup. Oilers fans will recall Conn Smythe winning goalie Cam Ward. The New York Rangers have succeeded both offensively ranking sixth in the NHL is goals per game 2.8, and defensively ranking tenth in the NHL is goals against per game 2.5. The problem for the Rangers is that they rely on Lunquivst in the playoffs not giving him enough goal support. In the 2015 NHL Playoffs the Rangers scored an underwhelming 2.37 goals per game. Playing the Pens in the second round, and ultimately the depth they have at defence, I can’t see the Rangers offence getting any consistent scoring against the Penguins.
Rangers Prediction: Eliminated 2nd round
To be blunt the New York Islanders have no chance against the Rangers. One bonus for the Islanders is that they have John Tavares, who is their most consistent forward on a nightly basis. Unfortunately for JT he has to face King Henrik not just for one game, but for an entire series. Lunquivst will be the difference maker in this series.
Islanders Prediction: Eliminated 1st Round
Boston has one of most complete teams in the league. They have a top five goal scorer named Brad Marchaud, who is extremely chirpy on the ice, but can back it up by scoring meaningful goals. Although father time is catching up with Chara he can still play 25+ minutes a game, which is needed for a run in the playoffs. Everyone thought Boston would take a step back this season, but that obviously wasn’t the case. They have a Goaltender that can lead them throughout the playoffs. The Boston Bruins are built for the playoffs, but they are built the same way as the Pittsburgh Penguins, but do not possess the same quality of players.
Bruins Prediction: Eliminated Conference Finals
Tampa Bay has had a lot of off ice drama this season. With Steven Stamkos set to become an unrestricted free agent, also with the stubbornness Jonathan Drouin is portraying. All the drama does not seem to be affecting team play. The lightning are an extremely talented team, but they set to face the Bruins who are poised for a long Stanley Cup run.
Lightning Prediction: Eliminated 1st round
The top team coming out of the East this year is the Pittsburgh Penguins looking for their second Stanley Cup in the Crosby era.
Based on the Standings of February 29, 2016 the playoff matchups would be;
Chicago (1) vs Colorado (8)
Los Angeles (2) vs Nashville (7)
Dallas (3) vs San Jose (6)
St. Louis (4) vs Anaheim (5)
The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NHL this season. It’s also no secret that Chicago goes in the playoffs each year with the mindset of once again winning the Stanley Cup. Chicago goes into the NHL Playoffs with; experience, a tier one goaltender, a shut down defencemen, numerous elite forwards…. The list can go on and on. GM Stan Bowman is the mvp in their front office. How he manages to keep all these elite players on a yearly basis is beyond me. The Chicago Blackhawks can very much be again…. The Stanley Cup favorites.
Blackhawks Prediction: Stanley Cup Final
Colorado really isn’t a terrible team. It is the Colorado Avalanche, but they have numerous of young talent on both offence and defence. The goaltending has been shaky all season long, but when Varlamov gets on a hot streak, it is hard to shake him. Colorado just doesn’t have that player yet to put them over the edge in the Western Conference, and they quite possibly have to play Chicago in the first round.
Avalanche Prediction: Eliminated 1st round
No team wants to play the LA Kings. They are just assholes to play against, with a great goalie to go along with it. Drew Doughty is the best defenceman in the NHL right now, and Jonathan Quick is a top three goalie in the NHL right now. Doughty and Quick are a frightening combination to opposing teams, but the Kings can’t rely on the two of them again to carry them to another Stanley Cup. Although the Kings have plenty of great forwards, they are missing that one forward that can be relied on in big moments. Yes, Anze Kopitar is a great hockey player, but he’s only gotten 30+ goals once in his career.
Kings Prediction: Eliminated Conference Finals
Nashville has been struggling for offence for years. The window of opportunity is closing for the Preds, and the acquisition for Ryan Johansen has not turned out as planned. Filip Forsberg has put the entire offence on his back and has carried the offence. The Predators don’t have the offensive depth that is needed in the playoffs to succeed.
Predators Prediction: Eliminated 1st round
Dallas has been underwhelming of late, and Jamie Benn who is supposed to be a superstar in this league has been ice cold. It is then evident the entire Stars team revolves around Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and if they fall into a deep slump like they’re in the whole team struggles. The first two months of the year I was thinking Stanley Cup contender…Now I’m thinking Playoff flop.
Stars Prediction: Eliminated 1st round
Brent Burns may be the most awkward guy in the league, but when a defenceman scores 20+ goals a season is doesn’t go unnoticed. Burns is the that type of player that can play 25 minutes a game and play both the penalty kill and the power play, which is extremely hard to find in the NHL. Obviously the Sharks organization doesn’t have total confidence in Martin Jones, by acquiring James Reimer by trade. Since the Sharks entered the league they have NOT won the Stanley Cup and have not ever won a conference championship. The San Jose Sharks have been the joke of the playoffs for years and their woes will continue.
Sharks Prediction: Eliminated 2nd Round
Each year when the playoffs start the St. Louis Blues are the team to beat. Their defence cannot compare to anyone else in the league. The offence they put forward every game can compete with any forward in the entire league. This year is the year to stop believing the hype. The Blues have one major weapon in Tarasenko, but that one weapon won’t help them move forward in the playoffs.
Blues Prediction: Eliminated 1st round
Since the Allstar break the Anaheim Ducks have been the top team in the league. Whatever head coach Bruce Boudreau preached to get his team back to expectations it definitely made players like Ryan Getzlaf to re evaluate his game. Captain Ryan Getzlaf has arguably been the best since the all star game and has no sense in slowing down. The defence the Ducks have are extremely talented, but lack the experience that is needed in the playoffs.
Ducks Prediction: Eliminated 2nd round
The top team coming out of the West this season is the Chicago Blackhawks.
Stanley Cup Final
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Chicago Blackhawks
This matchup would make hockey fans go crazy. Sidney Crosby, Johnathan Toews, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Kris Letang, Duncan Keith, Marc Andre-Fleury, Corey Crawford. Neither team has a glaring weakness, both team have strengths at offence, defence, and the goaltending position. The difference between the two teams is the consistency at goaltending. Crawford has proved he can be relied on in the playoffs, and for the past season Fleury cannot. The Chicago Blackhawks continue their dynasty.
THE LEGITIMATE STANLEY CUP FAVORITE : CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS