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Top 10 NHL teams that we think can win the 2021 Stanley Cup

3 May 2021

By Dan Ippolito
With just a handful of games left for the majority of the teams in the National Hockey League, we are starting to see how the first round playoff picture will look like. Early in the season, there were a couple of pauses for a few teams that had to deal with COVID-19 issues, but hopefully we have turned the corner on that front and can avoid anymore stoppages (knock on wood). Once the stage is set for the playoffs to begin, it will be tunnel vision for the remaining teams focused on hoisting The Cup.

Here, we take a look at 10 teams who are capable of etching their name on the most prestigious trophy in all of sports.

10. Florida Panthers
Entering its final homestand of the regular season, the Florida Panthers are trying to pass the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Central Division.

Led by Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers’ offense is seventh in the NHL in goals per game and tied for first in shots per game. The team makes sure they get pucks on net to make things happen in front of goal.

On the other side of the ice, Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger have nearly split the games. Bobrovsky hold a 2.97 goals against average in 30 games while Driedger posted a 2.17 up to this point in 22 games.

Florida has already punched its ticket into the postseason and is +1800 on Intertops Sportsbook to win it all.

9. Washington Capitals
Also securing a spot in the playoffs is the Washington Capitals, led by a player with no introduction needed, Alex Ovechkin.

Currently fighting for first place in the East Division, the 2018 Cup champions have big name after big name on their roster, including Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and T.J. Oshie to name a few.

This team has playoff experience, to say the least, but one red flag that popped up in the last week was its performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins in back-to-back games. The Caps lost both games to a team that they very well could have to go through if they want to make it to the finals.

That being said, those two losses could be exactly what the team needed to get their focus back and kick it into a higher gear entering postseason play.

The Capitals are +1200 on bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook to bring home the trophy.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins
Speaking of the Penguins, it wouldn’t make sense to leave a team with Sydney Crosby off this list. Even though he is hated by many fans around the league, probably because he tends to score against them, Crosby is having another great season with 56 points in 51 games played.

I don’t want to take away from his teammates though. Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust all are having 40+ point seasons as well.

If they want to be successful in the postseason, the Penguins will need to clean up the penalty kill. Near the bottom of the league, the Penguins only successfully kill a penalty 77% of the time. In the playoffs, the team will only be facing off against the best of the best so taken care of that flaw in their current game becomes crucial over the next few fixtures.

The Penguins currently sit at +1200 on Intertops.

Check out Dan Ippolito’s Top 10 NBA teams that can win The Finals

7. Edmonton Oilers
Honestly, I could write two words, Connor McDavid, and be done with my reasoning for this team, but I’ll keep going.

McDavid leads the NHL in points with an astonishing 87 in just 49 games, alongside being second in the league in goals with 29. He is 16 points ahead of the second place player, who just happens to be his teammate, Leon Draisaitl.

As if worrying about those two on the offensive end wasn’t enough to keep opposing teams occupied, those teams still have to figure a way to get the puck by Mike Smith.

Smith has a 2.30 goals against average and a .924 save percentage to go along with his 18-6-2 record. If you do find a way to stop McDavid and Draisaitl from putting up big numbers, which is a tall task in itself, good trying to line that up with getting Smith on a bad night.

The Edmonton Oilers, who have all but clinched their playoff spot, are listed at +1800 on bet365.

6. Carolina Hurricanes
Maybe we are going to be seeing the Hurricanes in the playoffs as a more common thing. Before the 2019 season, the Carolina Hurricanes hadn’t made the playoffs since the 2009 season. However, fast forward to today, and the team has the most points in the NHL with the Vegas Golden Knights right behind them.

At just 23 years old, Sebastian Aho is turning into the star that the Hurricanes had hoped for. On the defensive side of the puck, Dougie Hamilton has become a leader who has put up 40 points which is no easy task for a defensemen in just 51 games.

The main focus of the Hurricanes is their pride in keeping the puck out of their net. The team has the third-best goals against average at 2.33 led by netminders James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic.
However, if you give the Hurricanes chances, they will score. The team has the best power play in the NHL by percentage.

The Hurricanes will look to clinch first place in the Central Division. You don’t want to give this team home ice because they have only lost three times in regulation at home this season.

The Hurricanes are just +600 to win at bet365.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs
If a goal was scored by the Maple Leafs, there is a good chance Austin Matthews was at the end of it. With 62 points on the season, Matthews is first in the NHL in goals with 38 in just 47 games played. Not bad for whoever bets on him to score.

It’s hard to imagine that with 38 goals, Matthews isn’t the leader in points on Toronto. That’s because Mitchell Marner has 46 assists to his name.

Toronto has run away with the race in the Central Division. Despite Edmonton having two games in hand on them, Toronto leads by nine points and a trip to the playoffs already booked.

The Maple Leafs are +650 on Intertops to hoist the trophy.

4. Boston Bruins
The “perfection” line of the Boston Bruins is a great sight to watch. You have three guys on one line with over 40 points in Patrice Bergeron (43), David Pastrnak (43) and Brad Marchand (61).

In pretty much any game, this top line will be the best on the ice at any given time. However, it is the production of the next couple of lines that need to pick it up for the Bruins if they want to have a chance at making a run.

The goaltender situation for the Bruins has been an interesting one with Tuukka Rask being injured. Last year, he left the team in the “bubble” mid-playoffs for safety precautions. Rookie Jeremy Swayman has picked up some big wins and performances for the Bruins of late so between him, Rask and Jaroslav Halak, I will be curious if Rask has a short leash come playoff time.

The Bruins, +1200 on Intertops, need one point to clinch a playoff spot in the remaining six games.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bruins have run into problems with the Tampa Bay Lightning in previous playoff runs and that is why the Lightning sit just ahead of the Bruins on my list this year.

The reigning Stanley Cup Champions have an incredibly balanced attack with six guys on the roster piling up at least 30 points so far and three of them are over 44 points.

And then, you have the NHL’s leader in goalie wins, Andrei Vasilevskiy with 30 victories to his 2021 campaign. The most impressive stat to me if that of the players with at least 10 games played on the Lightning, only one has a negative plus/minus rating.

This team knows how to play in the playoffs and they proved it again last year and I wouldn’t be shocked if we are still talking about them in the finals.

The Lightning are +700 on bet365.

2. Vegas Golden Knights
Well, I was hoping to catch a Vegas Golden Knights came on my upcoming trip, but unless I want to drive to San Jose my first day in Vegas, that isn’t going to happen.

The Golden Knights have similar depth to the Lightning. The team also has six skaters over 30 points on the season, but two of the Golden Knights have reached the 50 mark.

In the team’s first season, Vegas made it to the finals but ended up losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. The team has made the playoffs in every season since it joined the league in 2017.

The Golden Knights give up the fewest goals per game in the NHL at 2.16, thanks to starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury who has a 22-10 record this season.

The Vegas Golden Knights are the second favorite to win it all on Intertops at +500.

1. Colorado Avalanche
I don’t think this pick will come as much of a surprise to any hockey fan out there. The Colorado Avalanche have been amazing to watch all season. Sitting just behind the Golden Knights for the lead in the West Division, the Avalanche are my favorite pick to win The Cup.

Colorado is the NHL’s best scoring team at 3.49 goals per game. There is no doubt that is because of the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Ratanen and Gabriel Landeskog. All three have at least 47 points with MacKinnon leading the way with 63.

In his second season in the NHL, defenseman Cale Makar has become an extremely important player for this team’s success, especially on the power play. Makar has racked up 17 assists to go along with three goals when his team has a man advantage.

I see no reason why the Avalanche can’t run the table in the playoffs with their youth, skill and depth.

The team is the favorite to win it all at +450 on Intertops.
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