Stanley Cup could be headed back to Garden State

Jack Hughes

      So many contenders but only one Stanley Cup.

      That’s the way it looks from here in the chase for the cherished chalice. A lot of teams believe they have a chance to win it all.

      Last season’s champions, Vegas, will have plenty of competition.

      Here’s how we see it unfolding:

      EASTERN CONFERENCE

      >Metropolitan Division

      1. New Jersey Devils: Any team with Jack Hughes on it has more than a legitimate shot.

      2. Carolina Hurricanes: Can they finally make a deep run?

      3. New York Rangers: In Peter Laviolette we trust.

      4. New York Islanders: Isles banking on goalie Ilya Sorokin to have another banner year.

      5. Pittsburgh Penguins: A team in transition but they still have Sidney Crosby.

      6. FLYERS: Return of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson makes them better right away.

      7. Washington Capitals: About the only interesting thing will be Alex Ovechkin’s chase for Wayne Gretzky’s NHL-record career goal total.

      8. Columbus Blue Jackets: Some improvement but not enough to escape the basement.

      >Atlantic Division

      1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Still have much of the core from those two recent Stanley Cups.

      2. Florida Panthers: Coming off a surprise run to the Cup Finals and anxious to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

      3. Boston Bruins: Set an NHL record for points last season but lost several key parts, including Patrice Bergeron.

      4. Buffalo Sabres: Determined to end long playoff drought and made progress last season.

      5. Toronto Maple Leafs: There’s plenty of firepower but it always seems to fizzle in the playoffs.

      6. Ottawa Senators: Another team which showed signs of life last year, led by ex-Flyer Claude Giroux.

      7. Detroit Red Wings: Long out-of-playoff streak continues.

      8. Montreal Canadiens: Hard times continue for a once-proud franchise.

      WESTERN CONFERENCE

      >Central Division

       1. Dallas Stars: Keep an eye on Jason Robertson, one of the real surprises of last season.

      2. Colorado Avalanche: Like Tampa, the Avalanche can call on the experience of winning a Cup a couple years back.

      3. Minnesota Wild: No superstars but lots of depth.

      4. St. Louis Blues: If anyone can pull the Blues out of this slide, it’s Craig Berube.

      5. Chicago Blackhawks: Might be a stretch but with hotshot Connor Bedard on board, anything’s possible.

      6. Winnipeg Jets: Seems like they’re right on the bubble every season.

      7. Nashville Predators: Like the Flyers, they’re in a bit of a rebuild.

      8. Arizona Coyotes: Lovable losers playing in a college rink.

      >Pacific Division

      1. Edmonton Oilers: Any team with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on it is always a threat.

      2. Seattle Kraken: Coach Dave Hakstol continues to do a nice job with expansion club.

      3. Los Angeles Kings: Former powerhouse from a decade ago finding its form again. Defenseman Drew Doughty one of the best leaders in the business.

      4. Calgary Flames: Coming off a disappointing campaign and looking to make amends.

      5. Vancouver Canucks: Coach Rick Tocchet had Canucks playing much better after he took over last season.

      6. Anaheim Ducks: Plenty of young guys looking to make a name for themselves.

      7. San Jose Sharks: At least they have a cool mascot.

      >Stanley Cup pick: DEVILS over Stars.

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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.