Which playoff bubble team could actually win the Stanley Cup?

From ESPN - January 12, 2018

Morning Skate: Which playoff bubble team could actually win the Stanley Cup?

Greg Wyshynski: The Anaheim Ducks were my pick to win the Pacific Division and to emerge from the Western Conference. I also predicted that the Nashville Predators would miss the playoffs and the Edmonton Oilers would finish second, so it's entirely possible I was under the influence of some sort of high-strength cold medication.

Those missteps aside, I still have to believe there's something there with the Ducks, even if it's as a team that slips into the final wild-card spot and somehow finagles a playoff run out of it.

Are they a mess? Yeah, at the moment. The Ducks have a 2.67 team goals-against average in 43 games, which is basically all to the credit of their goaltending: John Gibson posting a .923 save percentage in 33 games, and Ryan Miller posting a very respectable .935 save percentage in 11 appearances.

The problem is that Anaheim is giving up 34 shots per game, second most in the NHL, and generating 29.5 shots, third-fewest in the NHL. And 2.67 goals per game is unfortunately also what the Ducks are generating offensively this season, which ranks 25th. It's basically what they averaged last season, but scoring is up all over the league in 2017-18. Except in Anaheim.

Only two players on the roster have double-digit goals totals: Rickard Rakell (15 goals) and Jakob Silfverberg (11). Part of this is because of injury -- Ryan Getzlaf has been limited to 19 games -- and part of this is ineffectiveness. Corey Perry has only eight goals, for his lowest average of his career. Even newcomer Adam Henrique is not immune to the Ducks' drought; he averaged more points (0.58 per game) with the New Jersey Devils than he has in 18 games since joining the Ducks (0.50).

But you know what? Maybe it all comes together at the right time. The health, the scoring and the goaltending that we already know is solid. Maybe GM Bob Murray makes another wacky, aggressive trade to boost a team whose collective fingers are basically slammed in the championship window that is shutting on them, even as they were a conference finalist last season.

Or maybe they miss the playoffs. Who knows?

Emily Kaplan: Early in the season, we talked about how competitive the Metropolitan Division was. The overachieving New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders spoiled the party for regulars (the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers), meaning that the race became even tighter than usual. But halfway through the season, there's a new uber-competitive division, and I think this one features even more contenders: the Central.


Continue reading at ESPN »