When it comes to competition in the NHL, there is no greater equalizer than the month of October. Each fall, all 30 teams have a clean slate, a revamped roster and a new opportunity to prove their worth and begin their quest for the Stanley Cup.
Some teams come out flying, some start off sluggish and others are just consistently inconsistent. Come Christmas time, there are usually a couple of teams already looking forward to next October, but most of them still have their sights set on the post-season. It isn’t until around the trade deadline in March that there’s some separation in the standings and the contenders begin to distance themselves from the pretenders.
With only about a month remaining in the 2013/14 season, there are still more than 20 teams with a legitimate shot at making the playoffs – and close to a dozen who have the potential to make some noise once they get there. Of those dozen, there are a handful that truly have what it takes to go the distance.
Here are the top 5 teams with a legitimate shot at winning the 2014 Stanley Cup. The teams were ranked according to the odds of them winning the Stanley Cup by VegasInsider.com.
5. Boston Bruins, 7/1 Odds
A season ago, the Boston Bruins were minutes away from forcing a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals when they allowed two quick goals to the Chicago Blackhawks and watched their chance to repeat as league champions disappear. If there’s a silver lining to last year’s loss, however, it’s that some of the team’s youngsters acquired the valuable experience that can only be obtained by a long and painful playoff run.
With less than 20 games remaining in the season, the Bruins currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference (42-17-5 with 89 points in 64 games), are fourth in the NHL in goals-for (3.16 per game) and second in goals against (2.19 per game). They also have the fourth best power play (21.1 per cent), the 12th best penalty kill (82.9 per cent) and the fourth best face-off percentage (52.2 per cent).
Add that to the fact that the Bruins roster is largely similar – if not a bit deeper – than last year, and Boston once again has a good chance of emerging as the Beast of the East. In addition to familiar faces like David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tuukaa Rask, the Bruins lineup now includes the likes of Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Andrej Meszaros.