Winning the Stanley Cup is incredibly difficult. After a grueling, 82-game regular season, the top 16 teams then
compete in a small sample-size lottery face off with the intensity ratcheted up approximately one hundred notches. The first team to 16 wins bring home The Cup.
The fact is– even the teams thought to be favorites to win it all have the deck stacked against them. A few bad bounces here, a couple bad calls there, and it’s easy to see why “the field” is the best pick of all over any one team when picking a Cup winner.
We’ve already discussed why the Caps won’t be having a parade in June, and we looked at what needs to go right for them to have a realistic shot at riding down F Street on a float. Now here’s the one or two glaring weakness that will prevent every playoff team from winning the Stanley Cup.
(To the internet commentor who reads this in mid-June: Given that every team will be covered, I will be wrong about one of them. Thanks for letting me know.)
New York Rangers: After adjusting for score effects, the Rangers are the 18th best 5v5 possession team, owning 50.2 percent of shot attempts. Of the past five Cup winners, only one has finished below 54.8 percent possession during the regular season (Boston, 51.5 percent), and none have finished outside of the top 9 in the league.
Montreal Canadians: Can Carey Price steal a series or two? Sure. But can he steal the entire playoffs? Not without help. He’s not going to get enough help from his teammates who never seem to be able to possess the puck, finishing 22nd in the league with a 48.5 shot attempt percentage.
Tampa Bay Lightning: As good as Ben Bishop was last season, there’s a case to be made that he’s the worst starting goalie among the 16 that are playoff bound.
Washington Capitals: Already discussed here, but the Caps main weakness is their lack of skill at the forward position after their two superstars.
Detroit Red Wings: The Wings penalty kill has been positively awful since the All-Star break, ranking 27th in the league with a 76.2-percent success rate.
New York Islanders: Much like the Lightning, the Isles have a glaring weakness in net. Their 27th ranked penalty kill will have to find a way to not be awful against the Caps elite power play in the first round.
Ottawa Senators: Because all good things, including excellent, yet unsustainable goaltending, must come to an end. Sens goalies, mainly Andrew Hammond, have stopped 93.7 percent of 5v5 shots since March 1st. That ain’t gonna continue for two more months.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Know Kris Letang, know Lord Stanley. No Kris Letang, no Lord Stanley.
Anaheim Ducks: Considering Bruce Boudreau didn’t win it all with the 2009-10 Caps, I’m assuming he is jinxed/cursed until proven otherwise.
St. Louis Blues: Given where they play, the Blues likely have many St. Louis Cardinals fans among their fanbase. The sports gods simply will not allow a group that constantly self-congratulates itself as the #BFIB (Best Fans in Baseball) to experience the joy of winning a Stanley Cup.
Nashville Predators: Remember earlier in the season when it looked like Nashville were world beaters? Yeah, having an unsustainably high PDO is cool.
Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks are trending in the wrong direction, as their puck possession decreased for the third consecutive season. Their 49.5 SA% this season was their lowest since 2008-09. It’s no wonder, given the players they value.
Chicago Blackhawks: It’s hard to believe that Patrick Kane, even if he does play in game 1 of the first round, won’t be slowed down by his injury and the resulting rust. Not many teams can survive through four playoff rounds without elite performances from their elite players.
Calgary Flames: The Flames are awful, and “the will to win” simply will not overcome their putrid 44.4 score-adjusted shot attempt percentage.
Winnipeg Jets: Ondrej Pavalec.
Minnestoa Wild: No team that bolstered their playoff roster with Chris Stewart is worthy of any sort of parade. Miko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter can only make Stewart look like a capable top-6 forward for so long.
Lastly, none of these teams will win the Stanley Cup because they aren’t the LA Kings.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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