At the halfway point of the season, teams have shown what they can do, what they're made of and if they have what it takes to win it all. Anaheim, Nashville, Montreal, and Tampa Bay currently sit at the top of their respective Conferences. Recent champs Los Angeles and Chicago have worked out the early-season kinks and regained their previous elite form. Who will win it all?
Nashville and Tampa are new to the top of the standings. They both have the pieces in place to make a significant run and have proven so far they can win in the regular season. However history has shown that usually a team must make it far in the playoffs and lose before they know what it takes to win it all. Tampa in particular could make a serious push in the next few years, as GM Steve Yzerman has quietly assembled some very nice pieces around his superstar Steve Stamkos.
Montreal is a total wild card; not in the standings, but in their Stanley Cup chances. They can beat or lose to anyone, and it's always exciting. They too seem a few years off as current-top center Alex Galchenyuk is still just 20 and they could use another quality piece on the defensive side of things (good luck with that).
Most recent winners L.A. and Chicago still have most of their championship team intact and are always a threat. Both teams had slow starts before returning to elite form, but honestly, it must feel like they're just trying to get through the regular season without getting injured before they can start the 'real' fun.
Anaheim has been there, but it seems like a lifetime ago. Getzlaf even had hair back then! Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were not the front-runners of Anaheim's Stanley Cup win in 2007. That championship was won thanks to Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger anchoring the blue line. Andy McDonald was the team's no.1 centre and the legendary Teemu Selanne was still going strong in his mid 30's. As we move ahead into 2015, the Ducks have the roster and desire it takes to win it all. Here are 10 reasons why.
10 10. Their dominance of a tough division
9 Youth Movement
7 They're Fresh
5 Frederik Andersen
4 Close Games
Recent Stanley Cup teams Boston, L.A. and Chicago all had a top-notch defence, led by a dominant number one, who can eat up minutes. Recent disappointing teams like Colorado and Dallas for example, have their knees cut out by their severely lacking back end. Today's game is about speed and transition. If you are unable to get the puck out of your own end, you waste the energy that could be spent scoring goals.
2 Depth at Centre
When the Ducks won their first cup, all the stars aligned and they were stacked down the middle. Andy McDonald was playing the best hockey of his career, Ryan Getzlaf was playing the best hockey a $500K cap hit could buy, and Samuel Pahlsson made checking look sexy. Last season, the Ducks second-best centre was Mathieu Perreault and they lost in seven games to the eventual champions.
1 Ryan Getzlaf
The 80's Oilers traded away Gretzky and still won a cup with hard-nosed Messier. Steve Yzerman started winning Cups when he transitioned from a points machine to an elite two-way centre. Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron and Ryan Getzlaf all have won more Stanley Cups than Art Ross trophies. Ryan Getzlaf not only has the Messier Hairline, but he also puts the team first, hates to lose, and will do whatever it takes to win. That is the kind of player you need to win, and at 29, the Ducks have him for several years to come. He has a chance to lead them to not only the 2015 Stanley Cup, but for several more before his career is over.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!