The Stanley Cup playoff field is set, and the playoffs will begin Wednesday with some big first round matchups including: Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Boston vs. Toronto, Minnesota vs. Winnipeg and Vegas vs. Los Angeles. Playoff hockey is one of the best times of the year, with so much intrigue and intensity. So, what does each team have to do in order to hoist the cup this year? We have the answer for you.
Tampa Bay (1)
Take your vitamins. The Lightning, led by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, are among the favorites to win the Cup this season. They have been playing great all season. How do they carry over that success to the postseason? By hitting the ice bath after every game and taking their vitamins! Look, if the Lightning can stay healthy, they should have no problems reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Last year they missed the playoffs completely, but only because they couldn’t stay off the injury list. This year, if they can stay healthy, they will have a good chance at ending the season with a title.
Amnesia. Each of the last three seasons, the Capitals have lost in the second round, twice to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Penguins, and once to the New York Rangers. The last two seasons, the Caps won the President’s Trophy for scoring the most points in the regular season. They need to forget all of that this year. They still have a potent offense, and they got younger and quicker defensively to be able to compete with teams like the Penguins. They have a good team, but the mental wall may be their biggest challenge. If they can forget about their past misfortunes, and break down that mental barrier, they very well could be hoisting the Cup come May.
The TB12 Method. The Boston Bruins are enjoying a rebound year. They have a nice infusion of youth on a veteran roster. The average age is nearly 28 years old. But with 41-year-old Zdeno Chara, 39-year-old Brian Gionta, 33-year-old David Backes and 31-year-old Tuukka Rask, they need to keep their veteran leaders healthy. What better way to keep aging veterans healthy than to follow fellow aging Boston superstar Tom Brady’s method? The Bruins trainers need to get their players on this “holistic lifestyle” to help them win a championship. Brady has captured five championships, so he must be doing something right.
Apologize. The Penguins are looking to enter elite company by winning the Stanley Cup three consecutive years, as only three other teams have done: Montreal (twice), Toronto (twice) and the New York Islanders. The easiest way to do that is to win back the support of Lil B the Based God and apologize. No team can overcome a Lil B curse.
What did the #NHL Pittsburg penguins say about Lil b? Love you xoxox I hope nothing mean – Lil B
— Lil B THE BASEDGOD (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) April 6, 2018
Breaking news in sports ! There will be a new curse announced any day now! This will be on a #NHL player which he will be the first.. this is word from “ The BasedGod “ – Lil B
— Lil B THE BASEDGOD (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) April 6, 2018
Update: Lil B said he will not curse the Penguins, but they should still skate a thin line, as this guy has been known to change his mind and deliver curses at a moments notice.
Toronto Mojo. The Maple Leafs are a fantastic young team led by Auston Matthews. Last year they gave the Caps a challenge in round one of the playoffs, but couldn’t get past them. This year, the young Maple Leafs have more experience and the depth that could help them make a long run in the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors are also headed for the NBA playoffs as a No. 1 seed. The Maple Leafs could use some of that mojo to help them win the Stanley Cup.
Trust the Process. The Flyers need to drink whatever they are putting in the water in Philadelphia. The Eagles won the Super Bowl, Villanova won the NCAA Tournament , the Sixers made the NBA playoffs and the Phillies are a promising young team. The Flyers will look to continue that success as they enter the playoffs against the defending Stanley Cup champions. They may be underdogs, but so too were the Eagles on their Super Bowl run.
Forget it’s the Playoffs. The Blue Jackets have stacked back-to-back playoff appearances. Sergei Bobrovsky has played well this season and had a 2.42 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. However, in the playoffs, Bobrovsky is 3-10 with 3.63 goals against average and a .887 save percentage. Just dreadful. If they are going to win the cup, Bobrovsky needs to develop short term memory loss so that he forgets that the Blue Jackets are actually playing in the playoffs.
New Jersey (WC)
Schneiderless. The Devils are a young and fast team that shocked a lot of people by making it to the playoffs. Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier have led the young team to the playoffs as a Wild Card team. It will be tough for them to win the cup, but many people didn’t think they would even make it to the postseason. The way that the Devils are going to win the cup is by relying on their youth and quickness and by not playing Cory Schneider. Schneider has been terrible in between the pipes since he injured his hip and groin. They have announced that Keith Kinkaid will be starting at goalie, so maybe they will actually win the Cup. Whatever they do, they can’t play Schneider unless they absolutely have to.
Bring the fish. The secret behind the Predators success in the playoffs last year may have just been in the fish that fans threw onto the ice. People from all walks of life got in on it. Country music singer Keith Urban and Tennessee Titan Taylor Lewan even got in on the action. It helped lead them to the Stanley Cup finals. If they want to make a similar push for the Cup this season, the secret may just be in the catfish.
Gamble. Vegas caught lightning in a bottle this year and may very well be the best expansion team ever, across all sports as FiveThirtyEight points out. But how do they actually win the Stanley Cup in their inaugural year? Luck. Sin City is known for making or breaking gamblers. No doubt the Golden Knights were well constructed, but combining that talent with luck has been a big reason why they are having such an historic run. Vegas has been good to this group of players, so they need to continue raise the bet and hit sevens, and they may just cash out with the Stanley Cup.
Home cooking. The Jets have had the best record at home this year. At Bell MTS Place, the Jets have a 32-7-2 record. With a young explosive offense led by Patrik Laine, and a gritty netminder in Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets may have just the team to make a long run in the playoffs. This will be especially true if their fans show out in force and create a rowdy environment for opposing teams. The X-factor for Winnipeg will be their home ice advantage.
Their good friend Mo. Anaheim is always a tough team to judge entering the playoffs. Ever since they won the Cup back in 2006-2007, they have either had a disappointing Conference Finals loss, or were bounced early. This year could be different if they build on their MOmentum. Over the last 12 games in the regular season, the Ducks went 10-1-1. They enter the playoffs scorching hot. They will need to stay hot, and if they can, it will carry them to another title.
Black magic. The Wild are solid team. Not too fancy, but gritty. They are going to have a tough task getting by some elite goaltenders in the West, beginning with the Jets and Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck enjoyed a breakout campaign, recording a 44-11-9 record with a 2.36 goals against average and a save percentage of .924. If they happen to get by the Jets, they will probably have to deal with Pekka Rinne, not to mention Marc-Andre Fleury is also in the Western Conference now. How can they beat these tough netminders? Black magic. They need to put a curse on opposing goalies so they won’t play well. This may be the only way they can score enough points in order to win the Stanley Cup.
San Jose (3)
Grow some teeth. What is a shark without its teeth? Nothing scary. The Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup. Aside from their loss to the Penguins in the Finals in 2015-2016, they have a long history of early playoff exits. In 19 playoff appearances, the Sharks have only made it past the second round four times. Not very intimidating, despite them finishing in the top two in their division 11 out of those 19 appearances. This year won’t be any different unless the Sharks can finally find their swagger and toughness.
Los Angeles (WC)
Nostalgia.The Kings are four years removed from their last title, their second title in three years. They qualified for the playoffs once since their last title, and were eliminated in the first round in just five games. One way for them to get back to the finals, and possibly win, is nostalgia. They need to look back at what worked for them before. They have to forget about the last three years, which may be hard considering they haven’t done anything really successful in that time, and go back to what won them two championships in three years.
A hope and a prayer and maybe a three goal lead prior to start of every game. Colorado may be the surprise team of the playoffs. It will be hard since their starting goalie and best defenseman are injured, which doesn’t help considering the Predators outscored them 17-8 in a four game sweep. I hate to sound cynical, but it seems like the only real shot for the Avalanche to win the Cup this year is divine intervention.