With the first round of the NHL playoffs coming to a close today, the action on the ice is only heating up, but even though only 10 teams remain, there are still many questions to be answered, namely: Who will win the 2013 Stanley Cup?
Last season, the Los Angeles Kings won the Cup as the West’s eight seed, proving that anything can happen in the postseason. This year, the NHL playoffs have once again provided plenty of surprises and upsets, but like any year, there are a few favorites that look poised to hoist once of sports’ most coveted trophies when it’s all said and done.
One of those favorites is the Chicago Blackhawks, who finished the regular season with the league’s best record and who earned at least one-point in 24 consecutive games to open the season, which set an NHL record.
After easily skating by the Minnesota Wild in five games, the Blackhawks are still a major contender to win the Cup, but as the playoffs wear on, will they be able to hold up under the pressure? Unfortunately, history is not on their side, as no regular-season points leader has won the Cup since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 2007-2008.
If the Blackhawks can’t get it done, maybe it’s the Penguins’ year? As the East’s number one seed, Pittsburgh is another one of the favorites to win it all in 2013 and after dispatching the New York Islanders in six games, they’ve moved on to round two on a roll.
The path to the Stanley Cup Finals will be slightly less treacherous through the Eastern Conference, especially considering Montreal is out and Washington may not survive against the Rangers in game seven tonight. Still, every series from here on out will be a battle, so will Pittsburgh be able to remain standing after taking several more powerful blows? As more of a finesse team, they may lack the toughness to win the whole thing.
Then there’s the Kings. We can’t count them out after seeing what they achieved last season and with basically the same roster this season, they very well could repeat. But will they be as hungry after winning the title last year and will they be able to find the same success as the hunted, rather than as the hunters? They definitely showed some resilience in round one, winning four consecutive games against St. Louis after falling behind 0-2 in the series.
Of course, we also know that an underdog could get hot at the right time and make a run. San Jose surprisingly swept Vancouver away in four games and Ottawa pulled off a shocking five-game series win against Montreal. Then there’s the Red Wings, who battled back against the two-seeded Ducks to win in seven games.
There’s still a long way to go and the playoff climate will almost certainly change, but we’d like to know who you like to win the 2013 Stanley Cup right now! Vote Below and don’t forget to check out Twitter page later today to participate in NHL trivia for a chance to win an awesome prize!