The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are fast approaching, and anticipation of which team will emerge as the victor of the NHL is mounting. And, with the regular season winding down, we now have a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the top teams in the league.
As fans and punters await this next big NHL event, bookmakers have already started analyzing the odds for the next champion. You can analyze sports websites, for instance, news and odds for the NHL at betJACK, to compare and get a basic projection for the favorites.
According to studies, on average, 1.27 million people watched each minute of the final four championship games in Canada in 2022. Besides, according to the latest Cult of Hockey poll, the majority of Oilers fans believe they are legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cup.
Thus, in this analysis, we will take a look at the Oilers’ chances against the last game’s runner-up, and compare them to the rest of the competition. Also, we will analyze other top teams to take a look at their strengths, weaknesses, and chances of winning the cup.
The Edmonton Oilers: Can they Live up to their Fans?
The Edmonton Oilers have been making strides towards securing the trophy, with their recent performances giving their fans reason to hope for a championship win.
In a Cult of Hockey poll, over 80% of Oilers fans believe that the team will make it to the final four of the NHL playoffs, with over 25% predicting that they will win the Stanley Cup.
But just how far-fetched are these predictions? Are Oilers fans being irrationally exuberant, or is there solid evidence to back up their optimism?
Let’s take a look at the analysis of the top teams that are the Stanley Cup favorites, and see where the Oilers stand.
Reasons for Optimism
Despite being ranked lower than some of their competitors, there are reasons for the Oilers’ fans to feel confident. For one, Connor McDavid is playing the best two-way hockey of his career, with his leadership and determination making him an unstoppable force.
Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse are healthy again, giving the team the speed and agility they lacked last year. Meanwhile, players like Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zack Hyman provide excellent support to the Oilers’ two superstars.
Solid Checking Line
The Oilers also have the makings of a solid checking line, with Nick Bjugstad and Ryan McLeod being possibilities at the center, and Mattias Janmark, Derek Ryan, Warren Foegele, and Kailer Yamamoto all vying for a position on the wing.
One of Foegele or Yamamoto is likely to play on the top line, with the other players rounding out the fourth line with Klim Kostin, Devin Shore, and Dylan Holloway.
Finally, the Oilers are as tough as they have been since Chris Pronger was in town, with Evander Kane leading the charge. He now has some henchmen in Klim Kostin and Vincent Desharnais, both of whom are exceptionally aggressive and tough players.
Edmonton’s top four of Ekholm, Nurse, Bouchard, and Ceci are as formidable as they have been since the playoffs of 2017, when Klefbom, Larsson, Sekera, and Russell were all fit and guarding the blue line.
Boston Bruins: Can they Win this Season?
The Boston Bruins will undoubtedly be a top team to watch this season. In the off-season, the Bruins managed to keep most of their core intact, and added some new key players to their roster.
The current season has been a huge success for the Bruins. At the beginning of March, the team set a new league record. They became the quickest team to reach 100 points, needing only 61 games to pull the achievement off.
Injuries are always a concern in professional sports, and Bruins are no exception. Although the Bruins have many players that keep delivering points, injuries on one or two of the top players could cause major problems.
The team leader in points is David Pastrnak. In 71 games, he has recorded 95 points (49 goals and 46 assists). If the Czech forward were to suffer an injury, it would clearly affect the team negatively, even though veterans like Bergeron and Marchand are ready to cover for him.
When speaking of Bruins’ key players, the Swedish duo of Hampus Lindholm and Linus Ullmark can’t be left out. The two are a big reason why the Bruins are only allowing 2.11 goals per game.
Lindholm records +26 in the plus/minus column, and his presence on the ice can’t be underestimated. Ullmark has a save percentage of .937 and averages 1.95 goals against per game. The Swede is the clear favorite to win the Vezina Trophy.
However, the Bruins have proven they are able to perform without key players on the ice. At the beginning of the season, star defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed out on quite a few games. Still, Bruins seemed to be unbeatable. This is something they will remember if an injury were to occur during the playoffs.
Other Contenders to the Win: Stanley Cup Favorites 2023
Now that we have compared the Oiler fans’ claim with the toughest contender for the title, let’s look at some other favorites that Edmonton Oilers fans need to watch out for.
Colorado Avalanche: Can They Defend Their Title?
The Colorado Avalanche have been a dominant force this season. With one of the league’s most talented rosters, featuring stars like Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, last year’s champs have the firepower to overwhelm any opponent.
However, the team’s success hasn’t just been a product of their offense. The Avalanche have one of the league’s best defenses, led by wonder kid and last year’s Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar. Also Read: 6 Things Every Beginner Should Know Before Playing Basketball
Carolina Hurricanes: A Surprise Contender?
Few would have predicted that the Carolina Hurricanes would be one of the top teams in the NHL this season, but here we are.
The Hurricanes’ offense is led by the dynamic trio of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Teuvo Teravainen, who combined for 47 goals and 75 assists in earlier seasons.
However, it’s the team’s depth that truly sets them apart. Ten different players have scored at least five goals last season, and 15 players have recorded at least 10 points.
Defensively, the Hurricanes have also been solid, allowing just 2.56 goals per game. Although their goaltending tandem of Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta has not reached the same heights as last regular season, combining for a .907 save percentage.
Since Andrei Svenchnikov got injured, and will be out for the rest of the season, some may question whether the Hurricanes have enough star power to make a deep playoff run.
While it is impossible to say with certainty which team will win the Stanley Cup, the Oilers’ fans’ optimism is not entirely unfounded. The team has the talent, experience, and toughness to make a serious run at the championship.
However, reviewing the other contenders, they really need to watch their backs, as we can’t wait for the jam-packed Stanley Cup to begin.