5 Definite NHL Contenders for 2013
5 NHL Teams that will Contend for Lord Stanley's Cup This Season
The Stanley Cup is said to be the hardest trophy to win in all of sports. Not only do these players play 82 grueling regular season games all over North America, but then they must compete every other day for two months in the playoffs.
The Stanley Cup is also unique in that it is passes around every year from champion to champion. Just because you may make the Finals and play for the cup, doesn't guarantee you will be back anytime soon. Hockey fans are passionate about their sport and passionate about the teams they support.
Every team sets out with a goal to be the best at the beginning of the season. Of course, realistically, this isn't feasible for some teams. However, as we have learned from some teams, it doesn't necessarily matter where you finish in the conference or division. Two years ago, the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup as an eighth seed as they beat the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils.
Obviously, it's hard to predict playoff teams at the beginning of the season because one can never predict injuries and how a team is going to play together. Sometimes new players are going to mesh well with other players on a new team. Other times, though, new players have a hard time fitting in with a new system.
With all of this information being factored in, here are a list of five NHL teams that will definitely contend in 2013-14 for a Stanley Cup.
5. Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings may benefit from the realignment more than most teams. With Detroit not only switching divisions, but also switching conferences, the Red Wings will have to take fewer trips to the west coast than they are used to doing. The shorter travel time to destinations and back home could make for some fresher legs. Plus the Red Wings haven't missed the playoffs in 22 seasons.
4. St. Louis Blues
Last year the St. Louis Blues had a disappointing end to the season as they were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. After finishing the season fourth in the Western Conference last year, look for St. Louis to be a viable contender in the West.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins
It's hard to think that a team with Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Sidney Crosby wouldn't be in the Stanley Cup picture at the end of the year. The only thing that could hinder a possible title shot is injuries. Crosby has had a hard time playing a full season in recent years.
2. Boston Bruins
It's hard to imagine Boston won't be right back in the thick of the Stanley Cup talk this year. After losing to Chicago in the Finals last season in six games, Tuukka Rask looks to continue where he left off in the playoffs. By adding Loui Erikkson from the Dallas Stars, the Bruins look like they are ready to finish what they started last year.
1. Chicago Blackhawks
The defending Stanley Cup Champions look ready to keep the Cup in their possession after the end of this season. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Corey Crawford are hoping they can bring back the magic from last year.