Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Stanley Cup Conversation

10/03/2014 at 2:01pm EDT

Even though most experts are saying Boston, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim are Stanley Cup challengers, I am not so sure about that.

TheSportsGeek.com hands out betting advice on the NHL and most experts are right more times than wrong but I am going to try to break down some of the contenders for the Cup.

I want to say the Los Angeles Kings will win the Stanley Cup again but I can't.

We all know how hard it is to win back to back Cups and I just feel the Kings just won't get there this year.

I want to say the Chicago Blackhawks will win the Stanley Cup due to the fact they have the players to make it happen.

But I just have a gut feeling the Blackhawks are not going to be as good as most say they will be.

Now about the St. Louis Blues who under Ken Hitchcock need to get over the hump in the playoffs.

No matter how good their regular season is, and it will be great, it all comes down to their playoff performance. St. Louis fans want a Cup and this is probably their best chance at it.

The Anaheim Ducks, especially with the addition of Ryan Kesler will be much improved.

But they are the Ducks and somewhere along the line they have a tendency to have some type of internal implosion.

The Boston Bruins look good on paper and their goaltending is very solid and will be in the playoff picture, but...

I feel Zdeno Chara is on a down-turn and I am going to question if they have enough offense to get the job done.

A quick look at the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team will go as far as the defense and goaltending takes them.

They appear to be working on their defensive game during the preseason but the true test comes when the regular season starts.

Will they be a true challenger? Ask me in December.

When you think the Tampa Bay Lightning you think Steven Stamkos and then everyone else.

But it will be the "everyone else" who controls the destiny of the Bolts. Can Ben Bishop carry the load, can their defense hold up but one thing for sure, Stamkos will have a huge year if his health holds up.

Now how about those teams who may be a surprise this season.

The Washington Capitals are first on my list.

With Barry Trotz behind the bench, the Capitals will not be as flashy on the offensive end but will be more responsible in the defensive zone. A true Trotz team but it will be interesting to see how Trotz does handle the offensive firepower the team has. Will he let them play or will it be his way or the highway?

Many say the Columbus Blue Jackets will be a much improved team, but with Ryan Johansen still unsigned, Nathan Horton injured and no true #1 defenseman, the Blue Jackets will give it their all but it may not be enough.

One of the top teams in the regular season last year was the Colorado Avalanche. Can they continue this season and be a better playoff team?

That's the challenge for Patrick Roy. I could see the Avs making a few roster moves at the trade deadline to improve their club but only if the management feels they have a real shot at the Cup.

The Dallas Stars are a team on the rise and will win more games this year than they have in recent years.

Like the Avalanche, I see the Stars adding to their roster if they feel they have a chance at the Cup at the trade deadline. Trying to strengthen their defensive core will be the objective.

In the next group, which I refer to as teams that need a perfect season, I include Montreal, Detroit, San Jose, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Some of those teams need to be more perfect than others, need to avoid the injury bug and must have career years from some unexpected players.

Your thoughts?

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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.

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