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2020 NHL Playoffs: Top 3 Sleepers

Jun. 18, 2020 - Michael Stewart

2020 NHL Playoffs: Top 3 Sleepers

Introduction: Now that the NHL has finalized the playoff picture for the 2020 season with 24 teams participating for a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. It seems that this format could provide a lot of excitement and also produce a number of teams that could surprise teams if they get hot at the right time. After looking over the teams competing for the cup and breaking down their pros and cons, I’ve narrowed it down to three teams that could come out of nowhere to go deep into the playoffs and/or possibly win it all. Of course, it takes team work, skill, staying healthy and a lot of luck to make it to the finish, so without further ado; here’s my top 3 list of teams that could be a surprise in this year’s playoffs.

  • New York Rangers: The Rangers are currently sitting as a 50/1 chance to win the cup, but when you look at the makeup of this team and how well they were playing before the regular season shutdown. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this team has the talent and the overall makeup to go deep into the playoffs. The Rangers can throw out four solid lines with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad leading a talented group of forwards. On the blue-line the Rangers also have a group of talented players led by Tony DeAngelo, Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox. Between pipes the Rangers will rely upon Alexandar Georgiev and rookie sensation Igor Shesterkin, who compiled an impressive 10-2 record and a .932 save percentage. Likes not forget that Henrik Lundqvist is also available and could have some magic left for one more playoff run.
  • Edmonton Oilers: The Edmonton Oilers are a 25/1 chance and also have a very impressive group of forwards led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl who combined for over 200 points before the shutdown. The blue-line features talented Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse who have been steady on both ends of the ice. Goaltending will be the key if the Oilers advance deep into the playoffs and with Miko Koskinen and Mike Smith, this tandem could provide that spark.
  • Winnipeg Jets: The Winnipeg Jets are currently a 50/1 chance to win it all and they feature lethal weapons at the forward position led by Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele. The blue-line have two defensemen who have been steady all year in Neal Pionk and Josh Morrissey. The fate on how far this team will go will be squarely on the shoulders of goalie Connor Hellebuyck who posted a solid 31-21 record with a 2.57 GAA and a .922 save percentage. A hot goalie can carry a team all the way to the end.

Final Thoughts:  Currently, the top 5 favorites to win the Stanley Cup are the Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and the St. Louis Blues. However; throughout the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, we have seen many teams labeled to win it all, get eliminated early and often.  The COVID-19 layoff could affect the player’s performances in the beginning as many could need some live action to get the rust out and perform at top level. However; once that happens, we should see an exciting brand of hockey where many team’s have a chance to call themselves Stanley Cup champions.