It seems like the preseason was particularly long this year in the NHL. In fact, it seems like it was never going to end. We are now several hours away
from the start of the NHL season. It promises to be a great season. There are a stack of elite teams in the Western Conference; more good teams than there
are playoff spots. In the Eastern Conference the truly elite teams are tougher to find, but there is a major traffic jam of teams that seem to belong
somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Add it all up and we have one of the tightest and most intensely-competitive seasons on tap that I can remember in a long time. It is going to be a joy to
watch it all unfold, but it will be even more fun with a few 2015 Stanley Cup predictions on tap to give us something to really cheer for ( all odds are from Bovada):
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Chicago Blackhawks (13/2):
The Blackhawks are simply the best team in the NHL and the deserving favorites. Their top two forwards are outstanding. Their defense is excellent. Their
goaltending is at least adequate. They are extremely well-coached and are proven winners. There are, though, a couple of reasons for concern. First, they
are right up against the salary cap, so they lack flexibility if something goes wrong and they have to adjust. Second, the West is at least as deep and
talented as it was last year, and their playoff experience then showed that the best team doesnít always win. Iím a big fan of horse racing, though, and
when betting on the ponies you can almost never go wrong by betting on the best horse in a tight field. That means that the Blackhawks, despite a price
that doesnít offer a ton of value, are my pick to win the Western Conference.
Anaheim Ducks (10/1):
As good as the Ducks were last year, I canít get over the feeling that they were overachieving somewhat. They are far from a bad team, but if they arenít
quite as good as they were last year then they arenít going to be good enough to win it all.
Los Angeles Kings (10/1):
They have the best goalie in the league and quite probably the best defenseman as well. They have also won two of the last three Stanley Cups. They are
obviously a contender, and nothing you see during the regular season will have any bearing on what to expect in the postseason ó they are the ultimate
postseason team. The problem, though, is that last year they needed so many lucky breaks to keep advancing. Everything could go exactly their way again,
but Iím not betting on it.
St. Louis Blues (12/1):
I like the upside of the Blues a lot, and they had a solid offseason. Goaltender is something of a concern, but they should be fine. Still, the team has
yet to accomplish anything in the postseason with this squad, and until they do I canít trust them. You have to learn to win before you can win ó
especially in a conference this tough.
Dallas Stars (20/1):
You have to look for some nice value when looking at futures, and in the West this is where the value is. Adding Jason Spezza improves an already-strong
offense. Kari Lehtonen is a strong goalie. The coaching is excellent. They are a dangerous team. If anyone outside of the true elites is going to break
through, this will be the squad.
Boston Bruins (10/1):
I canít really say more than I have always had a feeling about this team, but I really havenít liked them the last few years. They are solid ó more than
that really -- but since their Stanley Cup win there has been something that hasnít quite been right. They have all the talent, but I just donít trust
them. Iím expecting a step back from their excellent regular season last year, and Iíll be looking elsewhere for a conference winner.
Pittsburgh Penguins (12/1):
They have the best player on the planet and another one who is easily in the Top 10. With that, though, they have badly underachieved for too long. The
coaching change should help, but neither Sidney Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin have been able to stay healthy lately at the same time, and thatís an obvious
concern. So is their goaltending. I really want to like them, but I have to pass.
Tampa Bay Lightning (14/1):
This is unquestionably my pick to win the Eastern Conference, and I love the price. They have the best pure offensive player in the league in Steven
Stamkos, and now that Martin St. Louis is gone the team is unquestionably his. He is going to have a huge year. He has a ton of offensive talent around
him, including the magical Jonathan Drouin, who is favored to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Victor Hedman is ready to take the next step
towards becoming an elite defender. Ben Bishop is an excellent goalie. This is a very good team, and after taking a big step forward from a disastrous year
two years back they are going to take a much bigger step forward this year.
New York Rangers (20/1):
They were pretty much a fluke last year when they won the East, and they didnít get better this offseason. No value here.
2015 Stanley Cup Finals Predictions
Chicago over Tampa Bay in six games. Just remember where you heard it first when you are watching what has the potential to be an offensive series for the
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham