By Glenn Kaplan, Staff Writer
With the Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin on Wednesday, April 10, I have thought about who has a chance to win it all.
Every playoff team in the Eastern Conference should be considered as a serious threat to go the distance, and every team in the west should be considered as a pretender.
Six teams in the Eastern Conference have more points than the Winnipeg Jets, who lead the Central Division with 94 points. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who currently sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division, have the same amount of points as the San Jose Sharks, who have the second best record in the Western Conference with 97 points.
Every team that is currently in the postseason in the east has at least 92 points or more. Montreal has 92 points, but they are currently on the outside looking in. They would easily be in the postseason if they played in the Western Conference.
The Jets, Sharks, and the Calgary Flames are 15-21 against the six teams that have at least 95 points this season.
The Vegas Golden Knights winning the west last season as an expansion team shows how weak this conference really is. Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury played tremendous in the west for the first three rounds, but he was overwhelmed in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals last season.
Therefore, I can’t buy in into any team from the west to win it all this season. An Eastern Conference team has won the last three Stanley Cups, and I expect them to win it all again this season and maybe for the next few years. As a matter of fact, I usually never say this about the sport of hockey, but the Eastern Conference Finals will be the real Stanley Cup Finals this season.
The Eastern Conference Finals have gone seven games for the past four seasons, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen again this season.
There is no team out west that can compete in a series with any team from the east. The east is a different beast compared to the west.