Reigning Champions favored to win the Stanley Cup
The unlikely heroes in the west, Nashville Predators paved their way to the Stanley Cup Finals by steamrolling over their opponents in a stunning fashion. There was no question of the best team in the western conference as Predators strolled to the final in 16 games. Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks were crudely pushed aside. Despite gruesome injury to no.1 center Ryan Johansen, the excellently balanced team gave the Ducks no chance in the Western Conference finals, with Pekka Rinne in magnificent form. In the Stanley Cup finals, the challenge is the toughest it can get as reigning champions Pittsburgh Penguins marched through in the East.
Penguins had a remarkably rough journey to the finals, including two series of seven games. With remarkable injuries to their key players, such as Kris Letang and Matt Murray, it seemed unlikely the Penguins would repeat their last season’s Stanley Cup run. The persistent team prevailed, however with Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel providing the goals and Marc-Andre Fleury stepping in to cover Matt Murray’s absence. Murray took over the netminding duties in third game of the conference finals and was as consistent as ever.
During the regular season the finalists met twice. Nashville took the spoils in their home game in October 5-1 and Penguins responded at home by winning 4-2.
In simulations, the Penguins are considered heavy favorites to take the second consecutive Stanley Cup. Their front-line is the best in the game, with enough scoring potential from bottom six. Their battered defense is getting healthier as well, with Trevor Daley and Justin Schultz returning. Predators, on the other hand might look a bit dull when it comes to scoring potential, but their team is extremely balanced and the defense has shown it’s able to stop the better teams in the west. In short, it looks like a matchup between the Penguins offensive prowess and Predators defensive unity.
Pittsburgh Penguins are 71% favorites to win the series. The most likely series result is 4-1 ,with 22% probability. The leading scorers in the Stanley Cup finals are, surprise surprise, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin from the Penguins and Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban from the Predators.