Point/Counterpoint: Who will win the Stanley Cup?

BY DI STAFF | MAY 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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Chicago Blackhawks — 1-seed, Western Conference

If you watched any of this past NHL season, it was clear who was the best team the entire year. The Chicago Blackhawks. Why would anything change in the postseason?

The Hawks won the conference by 11 points over the Anaheim Ducks and won the President’s Cup — the award for most points in the regular season, meaning that the road to the Stanley Cup goes through the United Center.

The key to the Blackhawks, Stanley Cup run in 2010 — and any Cup run, at that — is solid goaltending. That’s what the Hawks have — not from one goalie, but two goalies.

Ray Emery and Corey Crawford have combined to put together the league’s best goals against average: just 2 a game. The tandem is ranked among the top three individually in the league. You can’t lose if the opponent can’t score.

Speaking of scoring, that’s something the Hawks can do bunches. Joel Quenneville’s squad averages 3.1 goals per game, the second most in the league.

But what might be the most important is the leadership from the squad that won the Blackhawks’ first title in nearly 50 years.

Patrick Kane has had his best year of his NHL career, racking up 55 points [goals and assists] in the 48-game season. He’s been in all the right places when it counts.

It’s a no brainer that the Blackhawks are going to win the Stanley Cup. The team is one of the fastest in the league, and with this being a short season, it’ll be a mad dash to catch up to Chicago to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. I just can’t see anyone catching them.

— by Kevin Glueck

Boston Bruins — 4-seed, Eastern Conference

This is a hard pick for me. Boston’s recent skid — the Bruins lost two of their last nine entering the postseason — makes it difficult to trust they’ll jump out of this recent slump and make a run at Lord Stanley’s Cup.

But I believe in Boston. That city believes in the Bruins. They are, if nothing else, devout and dedicated. The phrase “Boston Strong” doesn’t just come from thin air.

Some things will have to change, though. If Boston is going to live up to that moniker, it’s going to have to show it out on the ice. (Looking at you, Milan Lucic. Scoring three goals in 31 games isn’t going to cut it.)

When the Bruins get physical, they look like the best team in the league. Bar none. And it starts with Lucic. When he gets rough and aggressive, he opens up the Boston offense — which I know for a fact will help the goaltender. A lot. Tuukka Rask has willed Boston to wins this season, but winning a series is too tall an order to do on his own.

The playoffs should be seen as a new slate for this Bruins team. The regular season doesn’t matter anymore. Time to get tough. Time to get nasty. I believe in this Boston team. And I believe they’ll end this postseason hoisting the Stanley Cup once again.

— by Cody Goodwin

Minnesota Wild — 8th-seed, Western Conference

The odds of the Minnesota Wild winning the playoffs are about as good as seeing a Twins fan talk about the merits of having A.J. Pierzynski as a backstop. Nonetheless, they are my pick to win the 2013 Stanley Cup, purely because of my Minnesota pride.

This pick might seem a bit silly, but then again, I’m sure everybody who picked against the Kings last year felt silly after they cruised through the playoffs to clinch their first-ever Stanley Cup.

I mean, really. Who would have the guts to pick a team that practically crawled its way into the postseason? The Wild posted a losing record in their final 10 games of the regular season. On top of that, they allowed more goals than they scored in this shortened season.

But I’m going to pick them anyway. Must be all of that Minnesota pride inside of me. The regular season is the past. The mess that was the regular season is a distant memory to most. The Wild have my attention now, and now is the time to show those Chicagoans that they should never mess with Minnesota again.

Helping to suppress the regular season is the veteran leadership of Zach Praise — the same Zach Parise who captained the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Mikko Koivu will also lend a leadership hand, because he knows this team better than anybody. Throw in Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville, and Matt Cullen, and there are enough players here to help relax a predominately young Minnesota team.

I have the utmost faith in Koivu, Praise, Suter, and the others to bring that Stanley Cup to Minnesota. (Or at least beat Chicago; that would actually be enough for me.)

— by Tommy Reinking

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