By: Jake Scearbo ’17
The best part about the Stanley Cup playoffs is that if a team makes it in, anything can happen. The parity in these playoffs is unmatched. Despite this fact, the Edmonton Oilers are poised to hoist the 34.5-pound Stanley Cup Trophy this spring. The Oilers made their first playoff appearance since 2006 with the second best record in the Pacific Division but their inexperience does not hinder their ability to succeed. Leading the team is captain Connor McDavid, who at 20-years-old was leading the entire NHL with 30 goals and 70 assists. With a generational talent in McDavid, the Oilers have a player who can take over any game with his poise and skill.
What separates this team though, however, is the stellar goaltending they have received from Cam Talbot. In the Oilers 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks this past weekend, Talbot was phenomenal, notching 39 saves to put the Oilers up 2-0 in the best of seven series. Goalies are a necessity to winning the Stanley Cup and the Oilers have their guy in Talbot.
This is not just a two-man team but a talented squad from top to bottom. Centers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl have had strong seasons as young players and former Stanley Cup champion Milan Lucic is a strong veteran presence in the locker room. Lastly, their defense is deeper than it has been in recent years and is led by Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson. With the strong start against the Ducks, the Oilers are in the driver’s seat to advance to the Western Conference finals and ultimately win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1990.
By: Meaghan Cahill ’20
As much as the NHL would love to see Lord Stanley raised once again by its Golden Boy Sidney Crosby, it is a wish they most likely will not see fulfilled. While “back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions” has a nice ring to it, the feat itself will be quite difficult for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they will have to endure a second round against the Washington Capitals.
Despite being down 2-1 in the series, the stars are aligning for the Caps as they are on the quest for the holy grail of hockey. Coming off what could be considered their best season to date, the Caps have a strong and experienced team that has the possibility of knocking out the Pens, winning the Presidents Trophy, and making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. With players like Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, and T.J. Oshie, as well as having a very limited amount of injuries, the Caps are arguably one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference. But the same can be said for the Pens, so what sets them apart?
The Pens, who have had a much weaker season than usual, and who are missing some of their top players due to injury, will have a tough time standing up to the strength of the Caps. Plus, while no official statement has been released, the Pens might have to face the challenges of the playoffs alone without Captain Crosby, who was taken from the ice during game three after a hit to the head. Missing Crosby, as well as their top defenseman Kris Letang, could be detrimental to the Pens success in the pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
Ultimately, the injuries Pittsburgh has sustained will prove to be too much to overcome. Capitals take the series in seven.