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Still Stanley Cup Contenders?

from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,

Roughly six short weeks ago, Toronto was part of a group of teams like Tampa Bay, Vegas, Nashville and Dallas pegged as pre-season conference and Cup favourites. The best points percentage from that five-pack of teams right now is Tampa’s .588, which has the Bolts on a 96-point pace. Put another way, not one of those teams is tracking a season that would have cleared the 98-point bar required to make the Eastern Conference playoffs last year.

So which clubs that we tabbed Cup threats are really living up to prognostications a quarter of the way into the season?

The Islanders look amazing, but they’re outstripping external expectations, as are the Oilers and, really, a Blues team I don’t think anybody outside Missouri wholeheartedly believed had a great shot to go back-to-back. It’s hard to do an honest evaluation of Colorado other than to say, in the face of several significant injuries, this young club is hanging tough and may yet prove worthy of bold forecasts.

You could make a case the only teams which were circled in red as Cup contenders before the season and who continue to look the part now are Boston and Washington, two clubs who clashed Saturday in a 3-2 shootout win for the Caps.

Of course, as teams continue to clump closer together in this league year after year, where you finish becomes a secondary consideration to getting into the big dance at all. So while a handful of supposed contenders look pedestrian through 25 per cent of the season, they’re most pressing goal — just get in, baby! — remains attainable.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com