A hat-trick for the Penguins?
Photo: Mark Humphrey Associated Press
Despite the parity of the circuit Bettman, Sidney Crosby could still lift the Stanley cup next June.
The Chicago black hawks have been qualified as dynasty after their three championships in six seasons, between 2010 and 2015. If this is the case, what is it of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who became the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998, to raise the Stanley cup two years in a row ?
When one can count on players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kristopher Letang and goalie Matt Murray, one of the best at his position in the Is, a hat trick is certainly possible, despite the ubiquitous parity in the NHL.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the Penguins have discovered, over the season last year, the young striker Jake Guentzel and defenceman Justin Schultz.
After?a?harvest?33 points in 40 games of the regular season, Guentzel has dominated the NHL with 13 goals during the playoffs. As for Schultz, he has established himself as a leading offensive of the Penguins ‘ blue line by amassing 51 points in the regular season, and 13 other during the series.
By contrast, the three main pillars of the Penguins can fall in battle at any time.
Crosby has a heavy past in the field of concussions, and you never know when the next one will occur. Malkin has not played a full season since 2008-2009 and has not participated in, on average, 75 percent of the matches of the Penguins since the 2012-2013 season.
As for Letang, its course resembles that of Malkin in terms of visits to the infirmary, with only one full season in his career (2010-2011), and campaigns in 37 games (2013-2014) and 41 games (2016-2017). If their medical staff is not too busy, the Penguins, receptive to the message coach Mike Sullivan, will hope to become the first team since the dynasty of the New York Islanders of the early 1980s to earn a third title in a row.
To the top : the Tampa Bay Lightning
The troupe of Jon Cooper had all the reasons in the world to address 2016-2017 with optimism after having reached the final of the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2015, and the final Is the following season.
But Cooper lost to Steven Stamkos in November, the dangerous marker and the Lightning never came back to the game, and the Lightning missed the playoffs by two small points.
Stamkos has gone through the training camp without striking, Nikita Kucherov is now one of the best forwards of the NHL and Victor Hedman ranks among the top 3 defenders in the league, with his fellow countryman Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators, and Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks.
The Lightning should be in good hands in front of the goal with Andrei Vasilevskiy, who posted a record of 12-4-2 and rate of stops, 929 in march and April last season.
Down : the Detroit Red Wings
The highlight of the next season with the Detroit Red Wings should be the opening of the Little Caesars Arena, because the short-term future is not very rosy.
The Red Wings have missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, in 2016-2017, and it seems that the training of Michigan will begin a new sequence, the less prestigious one.
In a league where speed is more valuable, those who have already been the pillars of the Red Wings are aging, as Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall, all of two 36-year-old, and the young Dylan Larkin got only 44 points in his 110 games in the NHL while he had amassed 33 in his first 50 matches.
The Red Wings will also want an increased production of Anthony Mantha, who has amassed 17 goals in 60 games last year. A harvest of 25 goals is not utopian for the giant winger out of Longueuil.