NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: 1 reason each remaining team can win, and 1 they can’t

I made it to the final four. The NHL Conference Finals for the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins Wednesday night, with the Panthers and Rangers facing off in the East, before the Oilers and Stars square off in the West on Thursday night.

Needless to say, each of the remaining teams deserves to be here. And when the dust settles, he will be one of these organizations hoisting the Lord Stanley Cup. Reaching this point is unique in professional sports. The NHL is a brutal combination of the tenacity of the NBA’s seven-game series combined with the brutality of his NFL, and it will take a special kind of team to weather this storm and qualify to be carved into the Cup. is necessary.

All of these teams deserve to win the Cup, but they are not all created equal. The reasons why each team can win and the reasons why each team cannot win are listed below.

new york rangers

Regular season: 55 wins, 23 losses, 4 draws
Playoffs: 8-2

Why the Rangers can win the Cup: Stupid power play

No team is better at capitalizing on mistakes than this Rangers team. That proved to be the biggest difference in their season win over the Hurricanes. Anything you give this team will literally be taken by a mile. And they have four key players this postseason who can do it all: Vincent Trocheck, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider.

Those players have a combined 49 points in 10 playoff games, with Trocheck and Zibanejad being ideal setup men for the sniper. Over a third of the team’s playoff goals have come on the power play, with Kreider, Trocheck and Adam Fox all averaging over 12.0 goals per 60 PP.

This team’s strategy is quite simple. It frustrates the opponent into committing penalties and making them pay for it. They did this against the usually disciplined Hurricanes, and they could do this against any team left in the playoffs.

Why Rangers can’t win the cup: 5v5

This is the other side of the coin for the Rangers. In terms of even strength, the team is surprisingly below average. Despite winning the President’s Trophy, this team was 0 this season in axDiff, which measures goal difference in an even-strength scenario. Additionally, they were average in his 5-on-5 scoring chances as well.

Perhaps the most concerning thing about the Rangers’ strength statistics is that they are giving up a higher-than-average number of high-danger scoring opportunities. That’s fine in the regular season when good players like Igor Shesterskin are finding the net, but teams in the playoffs are better equipped to take advantage of these dangerous scoring opportunities.

Overall, stopping this team is rather one-sided. If you bombard the Shesterskins with shots but don’t give them PP opportunities, they’re a below-average team. That’s not a good sign considering the talent left in the playoffs.

florida panthers

Regular season: 52-24-6
Playoffs: 8-3

Why the Panthers can win the Cup: Forecheck

The Panthers love to stop offenses before they start, and they’re very good at it. Of all the teams left in the playoffs, no team has a higher percentage of starts in the offensive zone than Florida, which allows Florida to make things very difficult for opponents, where they thrive. I will do it.

Matthew Tkachuk was the Panthers’ primary initiator on the forecheck among their forwards, averaging 56.9 percent of his starts in the offensive zone, and he was joined by Aleksander Barkov, who had a team-high 18 points.

However, this proactiveness comes at a cost. The Panthers take a lot of penalties. He also leads the playoffs in that category with 167 penalty minutes in 11 games. Overall, the concept here is very simple. The idea is to pack an even-strength offense and create enough chances to negate the power play.

In most cases this worked.

Why the Panthers can’t win: Bob’s magic is fading

A year ago, the heart of Florida’s playoff run was Segei Bobrovsky, an impenetrable wall in goal. This year, that suspicion seems to be growing even more. The 35-year-old has slowed down a bit, having previously been a below-average goaltender who could lose in the playoffs.

Through 11 games, Bob had a save percentage of .902, allowing 2.37 goals per game. His above-average -0.4 goals saved is second worst in the playoffs behind the Oilers’ Stuart Skinner.

The potential weaknesses grow the further they get into the playoffs, and this is especially important for the Eastern Conference Finals. If the Panthers give up too many penalties on the forecheck, the Rangers’ power play could become fodder for Bobrovsky. But they also need Aggressiveness to keep the puck away from the defensive zone.

Avoiding this challenge will be key to Florida’s chances.

Dallas Stars

Regular season: 52 wins, 21 losses, 9 draws
Playoffs: 8-5

Why the Stars can win the Cup: Consistency and discipline

The Stars aren’t the most talented team left, far from it. But he boasts two attributes that are very important as they are a cup team. It’s about not having a dramatic line drop and not making too many mistakes.

Dallas is a slow and steady tortoise in the Stanley Cup, and they have no interest in being a rabbit. They rack up wins and are willing to go the distance and keep games close and play the full 60 minutes. Although this team has never lost a game by more than two goals during the playoffs, this statistic is a bit misleading since the netters are still empty.

In fact, the Stars are just great at playing head-to-head with any line, using their great defensive players to thwart scoring opportunities, and then overpowering the third and fourth lines with their depth, which is why their Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn third line is so good.

Why the Stars can’t win the Cup: Lack of a distinctive superstar

That depth and consistency comes at a price, with a clear lack of a true bell cow who can make a run for it when needed. Wyatt Johnston seems destined to be an elite player, but he’s not there yet and remains firmly in the “very good, but not great” position on his roster. .

The problem is, the Stars will have to compete in the Western Conference Finals with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the two best skaters remaining in the playoffs. They can score a ton of points, and when that happens, they need a steady force to carry him on his back and keep the game going.

Jason Robertson has shown such qualities at times, but they are few and far between. That’s what makes it difficult for teams that have B+ talent at every position but no A+ players. This leads to a scenario where the dam could easily burst and the team would be submerged.

Edmonton Oilers

Regular season: 49-27-6
Playoffs: 8-4

Why the Oilers can win the Cup: Star power

Defense is overrated. The Oilers are proof of that. Among the remaining four teams, no one can match Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who finished the regular season with 132 and 106 points, respectively.

Bad news for the Oilers’ opponents. They did well in the playoffs, with Draisaitl in particular scoring 24 points in 12 games.

Any conversation about beating the Oilers has to start with how to contain the top-end talent that Edmonton has. They have the ability to force teams into goal difference and force a response, which in turn allows them to win the psychological game. It’s hard to bounce back when everything is at stake, and the Oilers know that.

Why the Oilers can’t win the Cup: Goalie

Stuart Skinner is the worst starting goaltender left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has an above-average goals save percentage of -5.2 and a save percentage of just .881.

This team relies on its offense and hopes its defense is just “good enough” to get the job done. In many cases it worked, but from now on it will only become more difficult. On paper, Edmonton has what it takes to beat the Stars in the Western Conference finals, but from there it looks poised to be devoured by either of the Eastern Conference teams that advance. Both teams are good at isolating key players and forcing the other team to play deep.

Any hopes of Edmonton hoisting the Cup must be predicated on them solving their goaltending issues, either through a dramatic transformation or change in form from Skinner, or by pivoting to Calvin Pickard and hoping he can get the job done.