The 2021 NHL season has finally arrived, and the goal will drop on a 56-game, 116-day journey to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hope springs forward, as it always does for all 31 groups, and it’s remarkable for each one, as it has been in past seasons. Some will use the next few months to plan out their approach and train for the postseason as a Cup candidate. Others will be utilizing it to continue developing and cultivating success with their team.
This season will be one-of-a-kind, full of surprises. Apart from the compressed schedule, COVID-19 will have an impact. For the first time in-game history, teams will play four straight matches against the same opponent during the regular season. It is difficult to predict what will occur in the future, so it’s best to look ahead to see who will take the 2021 NHL finals season one to remember.
Top 3 Stanley Cup Champs NHL Power Rankings
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bolts have risen to the Central Division and the NHL power rankings peak due to Andrei Vasilevskiy’s outstanding goaltending, including a franchise-record of 12 consecutive victories. Tampa Bay Lightning has won five of its last six games, and Yanni Gourde has already exceeded his goal total from the previous season. At this pace, the Lightning might be able to win back-to-back championships.
Tampa Bay looks unbeatable again, sitting atop the team rankings and competing in a dubious division with only two other qualities. However, Nikita Kucherov seems to be returning to the Bolts’ lineup come playoff time hurts the rest of the league.
2. Vegas Golden Knights
Since Golden Knights don’t have much wiggle room on the limit, they won’t be able to be as competitive at the deadline as they have been in previous years. However, they should consider smaller deals to bolster their bottom-six scoring goals. Don’t let their transactions downplay their status. The Golden Knights are ranked second in most power rankings due to their stellar play.
3. Carolina Hurricanes
Despite Petr Mrazek’s fracture, the goalkeeping has been remarkably solid this season. In preparation for what might be a long playoff run, the Canes could consider adding some intensity to their game. Against all the odds, the Hurricanes are still up the power rankings.
This Season’s Breakthrough Teams
This year’s famous selection appears to be the Carolina Hurricanes. If they want to win, they must technically go through Tampa. The Hurricanes have a strong team, but goalkeeping will be the greatest issue, even more so than the Colorado Avalanche. Nonetheless, these two teams aren’t a bad wager.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who were chosen repeatedly to win and three times to reach the final, are among the other teams listed here. The Leafs are in a more advantageous division this year, so it will be fascinating to see if their stronger defense and veteran experience will help them go further than they have in years.
When you hear of the Bruins, you do not think of them as having one of the NHL’s best defensive players. They have a 2.34 target score and only permit 26.8 shots per game, which puts them in the top five. The Bruins learn how to close down opponents, having gone under the limit in seven of their last eight games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a lot of talent, but how good are they? It was revealed that their best player, 2019 MVP Nikita Kucherov, will miss the regular season due to hip fracture. The Tampa Bay Lightning were a major contender to win last year and showed just it by winning the Stanley Cup.
It does, however, demonstrate how difficult it is to replicate from year to year. They’re still one of the most successful markets. Most teams would be doomed if they lost a world-class forward. However, several players are stepping up. Tampa Bay’s offense would undoubtedly suffer without Kucherov, the game’s leading dual-threat offensive lineman. Their efforts are showing as the Lightning are still dominating the NHL.
The Lightning’s depth is shown by Jon Cooper’s ability to bring out Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat as a power play. The Palat-Point-Stamkos line would be one of the most efficient first rows in the NHL with or without Kucherov. Stamkos has the potential to be an MVP candidate if he stays healthy and regains his form.
Who will take home the Cup?
We really don’t see how the postseason competition will be organized, due to realignment and a new style for the playoffs. With this in mind, the final four for me are Tampa Bay, Toronto, Colorado, and Boston. Carolina will make a try, but the Tampa Bay Lightning will win the Stanley Cup against all odds.
Despite COVID-19, sports leagues are still making a lot of games interesting. You can expect the NHL to do the same with this year’s league. The winners of this year’s Stanley Cup will have a big celebratory sigh of relief once everything is said and done.