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Stanley Cup Favorites After Round One

This year’s first round was nothing short of absolute mayhem. We witnessed more upsets than any year in recent memory as many of the Stanley Cup favorites were sent home early. The Avalanche, Rangers, and Lightning all had their cup aspirations dashed in the first round. Not to mention the best team in NHL history based on regular season points, the Boston Bruins, were outed by the Florida Panthers. in one of the biggest upsets in NHL history. With the first round of the playoffs now behind us, let’s take a look at the remaining Stanley Cup favorites.

Remaining Stanley Cup Favorites

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs finally slayed their first-round demons this year as they took down the Tampa Bay Lightning. In doing so, they were able to earn their first series win since 2004.  The team is clicking on all cylinders as all their star forwards came to play in the first round. Couple that with Samsonov’s great goaltending and Morgan Rielly‘s great play thus far and the Leafs have what it takes to go all the way.

Of the eight remaining teams, the Leafs arguably have the strongest lineup on paper. After beating the Lightning as well as the Bruins and Rangers being eliminated, their path to the finals has never been clearer. The Leafs currently face off against the Panthers in the second round, and they match up well against this team. Both teams are offensively driven and tend to play a run-and-gun style of game. If these two teams get into an offensive duel, the Maple Leafs are deeper offensively and can compete with any offense in the league.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers were one of the few favorites who didn’t get upset in the first round. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and company unsurprisingly came to play in their first-round matchup with the Kings. They have a deeper supporting cast up front than they’ve ever had during McDavid’s tenure. With the addition of Ekholm and the emergence of Stuart Skinner, the Oilers are primed to make the finals for the first time since 2006. The Oilers however will be facing a much tougher opponent in the Vegas Golden Knights in round 2. The team can’t afford to struggle out of the gate like they did against the Kings, however. If they do, they risk digging themselves too big a hole to climb out of.

Dallas Stars

The Stars are a team that has gotten lost in cup favorite talks of late. Teams like the Oilers and Maple Leafs have been grabbing much of the headlines. However, the Stars can’t be overlooked as one of the favorites for lord Stanley. They have all the pieces necessary to win a championship. High-end forwards in Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz, a stud number one on the backend in Miro Heiskanen, and Jake Oettinger in goal. Oettinger has been nothing short of brilliant in his first two years in the postseason and shows no sign of faltering. The Stars looked great all around against the Wild and that was without top forward Joe Pavelski who was injured in Game 1. The Stars will get him back for Game 1 against the Kraken as he was a full participant in practice on Monday.

It’s been a long time since the Oilers, Leafs and Stars have brought home the Stanley Cup. However, after making it out of a crazy first round, they have an opportunity to reclaim the cup once more. If the Oilers win it’ll mark their first since Wayne Gretzky was an Oiler in 1990. For the Leafs it would mark the team’s first win since 1967. The Dallas Stars were the most recent of the three to win a championship doing so in 1999. All these teams have the pieces in place to win a championship.  Therefore, it’ll be interesting to see who brings home the 2023 Stanley Cup.

Main Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


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