From Connor McDavid’s 150-point campaign to the Boston Bruins winning the most regular season games by any team in NHL history, this season has had it all. The best has yet to come as we set to launch into the part of the year every hockey fan craves, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As we close out the regular season, many teams look to contend for the Stanley Cup this year, like the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche and Las Vegas Golden Knights. With all of these contenders, the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs have the potential to be the most exciting in a very long time, so let’s take a look at three teams I think have the best chance to lift Lord Stanley.
Coming in at number three are the Edmonton Oilers, led by Connor McDavid, who hopes to win the former City of Champions their first Stanley Cup since 1990. The Oilers enter the playoffs on fire, winning a remarkable 12 games in March and setting a league record in powerplay percentage this year at 32.4 percent. The only doubt that remains for Edmonton is in net. Despite Jack Campbell’s underwhelming first season as the Oilers’ netminder, posting a .888 save percentage through 36 games played, it has been rookie goaltender Stuart Skinner who stepped up immensely for the Oilers and made his first all-star appearance this year. There are still questions about how the young Edmonton-born goaltender will perform in his first playoffs, but I believe the 24-year-old will be serviceable for the Oilers and keep them in contention to win games.
At the second spot, I have the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite not advancing past the first round in all six of their last playoff appearances, I can’t help but see their potential this season. They faced a seasoned Tampa Bay squad last year, coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup wins and pushed them to seven games. What better way to get revenge than to flip the script and send them packing their bags in the first round this year? Toronto has become an extremely deep team by adding Ryan O’Reilly, Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, Luke Schenn, and Erik Gustafsson. These deadline acquisitions should solve their depth-scoring woes in the playoffs. Up front, the Leafs’ offensive production that is Matthews, Marner and Nylander brings more than enough goal-scoring to hold their own. This year, there is an abundance of pressure on Toronto to make a deep playoff run as the Leafs have been in this position before and failed to capitalize in the playoffs. However, this year I believe Toronto will advance past the first round and when they do, the sky is the limit.
The team I have as the favourite to win the Stanley Cup in 2023 is the Boston Bruins. Coming off their 63rd win of the season, the Bruins now stand alone in NHL history as they hold the record for most regular-season wins by a team in a single year. With Boston’s deadline acquisition of winger Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit, the Bruins are arguably the deepest team in the NHL and the favourite to win the Stanley Cup with their depth on the blueline and in the crease. However, they really excel on the powerplay and penalty kill. The Bruins were one of the league leaders on special teams this season, capitalizing 22.1 percent of the time on the man advantage while having the league’s best penalty kill unit at 87.3 percent. We are witnessing one of the greatest regular season teams in history, and to cap off their great year, they aim to hoist the Stanley Cup.
With so many solid teams in the East, such as the Rangers, Leafs, Lightning, Hurricanes, and Devils, there’s many can’t miss games coming up. With this list of promising teams, the Bruins are just too good to pass up.andit’s difficult to see anyone beating them in a seven-game series. I expect Boston to narrowly escape the stacked Eastern Conference and face the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Western Conference is wide open, and any team could end up in the finals. However, the Oilers will likely be the favourite to win the West as they are clicking at just the perfect time right at the end of the regular season. Even with all this talent the season can only end with one 2023 Stanley Cup Champion.
Cover photo via AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack