How many times have you heard it? It’s nearly impossible to win a Stanley cup two years in a row. It’s hard just to be a viable contender two years in a row, really. Playing those extra few months that a team like the Devils don’t have to play takes a lot out of a team. Thus, it behooves a team that successful the year before gets out to a very hot start before time catches up to them.
It’s still possible, of course, to circle back and make a late season run if your team had been deep into the playoffs the year prior, but as injuries and fatigue catch up, it becomes increasingly difficult to bounce back. The real contenders for the Cup this year are the teams that were good last year that are off to good starts this year.
The most obvious contender this year would be the Tampa Bay Lightning, who reached the Eastern Conference Finals last season, and currently sit atop the Eastern Conference this year. They have a couple of the best players in the league in Stephen Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, all while Brayden Point is leading the team in scoring. The team is good, young, and well positioned to recuperate through the middle of the season.
Of last year’s semifinalists, there isn’t anyone off to the start Tampa is. Neither of the Stanley Cup Finalists from 2018 are even in playoff position, with both Vegas and Washington well on the outside and looking in. Winnipeg would be a Wild Card in the west. One has to like the younger, slightly fresher Winnipeg in an attempt to recapture their magic.
If we expand our search to the quarterfinals from 2018, the potential field of threatening teams grows a little bit. Boston is snuggled into third in the Metro, while San Jose, the Western Conference Champ three years ago, and Nashville, the Western Conference Champ 2 years ago, are in third and first in their respective divisions. If you wanted me to pick this years potential Champion, and you gave me five options, those would be them. Tampa, Winnipeg, Boston, Nashville or San Jose.
Knowing my history, though, you are probably better off taking the field.