The playoffs are right around the corner and everyone knows the odds on favorite is by far the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Stanley Cup. It is set in stone that they are the President’s Trophy winner and will face the second wild card spot. Although this round should be a cake walk regardless of who they play, I still was pondering on who has the best chance at a historical upset.
The only 4 teams that have a shot are the Flyers, Canadiens, Hurricanes, and Blue Jackets. My pick has to be the Columbus Blue Jackets and here’s why…
Offense: You’re going to need to score. The Blue Jackets went out and added some depth in Duchene and Dzingel. Those guys are going to have to really step and put some pucks in the net. Everyone knows Tampa has depth in scoring, but the Blue Jackets have that depth too. They just need to play a consistent game/series in order to have a shot. Get the puck deep and make the defense work to make plays. No shifts off and keep the puck in their zone.
Defense: This is going to have to be the bread and butter of the Blue Jackets. As a team they will have to play physical and muck it up. The puck has to get out of the zone every time they get possession. The Jackets have a great young core of defense that can compete both offensively and defensively with Jones and Werenski leading the way. They also added McQuaid from the Rangers who will help give them that much needed edge. Columbus will have to play gritty and a little scummy to beat the Bolts in a series and players like McQuaid and Dubinsky will have to play some mental games.
Goaltending: I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about how well the Lightning goaltending duo is. But that’s thrown out the window come playoff time. Vasilevski will be the starter and he will be tough to beat. So Bobby boy is going to have to match his play and flat out be better. Bob is going to have to steal not just one game, but two in order to beat them in a series. When Bobrovsky is on, he is a top three goaltender in the league. So he is going to have to be on every single game.
Coaching: Say what you want about Torts, but I love the guy. He will hopefully install the same system that helped get the Rangers further into the playoffs than they should have. They will be blocking shots and mucking it up. That grinding style is effective if the team buys in. I’m not sure that they will though and that’s not his fault. But if you want a shot at beating the Lightning they will have to play an ugly game and there are few coaches that embrace that game style more than Tortorella.
So that’s my analysis of a possible match up and since I took the time to blog about it, you can rest assure that this match up won’t be the situation. But overall I think Columbus has the most potential out of the 4 teams mentioned. They have a solid balance of talent that can compete if they buy in. Let’s here what your thoughts are as who has the best shot against the Bolts come playoff time.