Congratulations to the St. Louis Blues, a team located in the muck of the NHL’s basement in the turn of this New Year, only to reverse their fortunes to a degree never seen before in the history of this league. The Blues are more hustle and muscular than dash and flash which makes their meteoric rise even more astounding. But our crystal ball does not see a replica of the other Stanley Cup in their future that means we must look elsewhere. Let us determine which groups are strong bets to add in our NHL selections for next year.
Predicted Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning
Had the Lightning kept goaltender Ben Bishop at the fold, instead of trading him away a couple of decades back, we’d probably be looking at Tampa Bay since the golden standard for professional baseball and the 2019 Stanley Cup champions. Instead, they heated to Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, an superb goalie in his own right, but one that withered under the pressure of postseason play when he dropped four consecutive games to the Blue Jackets in the first round and finished his brief playoff run with a 3.82 goals against average along with a dismal .856 save percentage over those four matches.
No matter the Lightning has a boatload of talent and are, far and away, the most explosive team in the NHL. Tampa Bay now understands that the regular season means nothing once the playoffs roll around, and opponents do not cradle if they fall behind. The Lightning, like their talented goalie, will probably be all the more fortunate next time around and although they may not tie a record for most wins in a season (62), as they did last year, anticipate the quad to toughen up on defense and be a far more formidable adversary once the postseason arrives.
Winner: Winnipeg Jets
Before you snicker, how a lot of you chose the Blues to win the West this season, and the Stanley Cup in the turn of the New Year? Therefore, you will excuse me when I part company from the chalk lovers and also the alleged pundits who believe only Calgary, St. Louis, Vegas, and San Jose could emerge out of the West to contend for a Cup next year. Although the Jets had a disappointing showing this season as compared to continue, when they dropped to a Cinderella team in their debut season, the Vegas Knights, at the Western Conference Finals, they amassed 99 points and were bounced in the first round by the eventual Stanley Cup champs.
There are loads of contract scenarios to be resolved and the defense has to be stouter than they were last season. But accidents also hobbled the Jets and we hope to see the key pieces of the puzzle locked up and inked to new deals with the sole potential casualty being Jacob Trouba, who would be qualified for another mediation hearing before he becomes an unrestricted free agent the following year. Trouba is catnip to all those teams searching for a young, offensive defenseman and although he would look back again in a Jets’ uniform, he can fetch the missing bits to the championship puzzle for Winnipeg.
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