Point/Counterpoint: Who will win the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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Three DI staffers debate which team will win the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are far from a flawless team; no team in the postseason is. But if you’re looking for the model franchise for sustained playoff success, Chicago is about as close as you can get to perfect.
Top to bottom, Chicago is one of the deepest teams offensively, if not the deepest.  Any team that can go a full two months without its most dynamic offensive weapon and stay afloat in the toughest division in the league is probably pretty balanced.

And with Patrick Kane returning for Game One, the Hawks are getting an enormous offensive boost at the absolute perfect time.

What’s more, defending Cup champ and archrival Los Angeles failed to even qualify of the postseason this year. The Kings were Chicago’s biggest obstacle to another Cup last season. A Los Angeles-less postseason makes Chicago’s playoff run infinitely less daunting this time around.
The Hawks were 1 goal away from another Stanley Cup Final appearance last season, and they return largely the same roster. 

That experience, coupled with a talented group of star players still in their prime, makes Chicago the odds-on favorite to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup again in 2015.

— by Ryan Rodriguez

Anaheim Ducks

With a record of 33-1-7 in 1-goal games is a telling record. To win championships, you need to win close games, and the Ducks clearly can do that.

The Ducks haven’t made the Western Conference Finals since 2007, the last time they raised the Cup.

But the team that knocked them out a season ago, the Kings, missed out on the playoffs, and the Ducks have arguably the easiest road to get to the conference finals out of anyone in the West.

Winnipeg will go down fairly easily, and the Ducks will overwhelm either the Canucks or the Flames.

Then, a date with either the Blues or the Blackhawks awaits. There’s a case to be made for any of these three as the best in the West, so the Ducks will need all the help they can get from their nine 10-goal scorers.

Ten players have 30 or more points, and Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Matt Belesky, and Ryan Kessler have each scored at least 20 goals.

The Ducks can score, but they also have eight healthy defensemen. They also have home ice throughout the playoffs, which will make a difference over three series and in the Stanley Cup finals.


— by Ian Murphy

New York Rangers

After coming short last year in the Stanley Cup Finals to Los Angeles, the Rangers are poised to make it back and finish the job. 

The Rangers finished the regular season this year with a record of 53-22-7, finishing at the top of the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference. The Rangers also topped off with the most points in the NHL with 113, winning the President’s Trophy.

Coming into the season the Rangers lost Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle, and veteran Brad Richards as well as injured Kevin Klein, who didn’t start the regular season because of a broken arm. But the Blueshirts were able to adapt to the changes in their lineup to have a great regular season. 

They acquired Dan Boyle and Tanner Glass in the off-season as well as Keith Yandle from the Coyotes, who is an offensive-minded defenseman, just what the Rangers were looking for at a shot at the playoffs. 

The lethal combination of skill, depth, and experience make the Rangers into one of the deepest teams in the NHL.

To top it off, goaltender Henrik Lundquist is healthy and ready to go after overcoming a neck injury. 

If key players such as Rick Nash, Derek Brassard, and Lundquist keep playing well along with their deep roster, the Rangers should be able to make it back to the finals to finish off the job that they failed to do last season. 

— by Rod Engblom

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