The NHL is at its most exciting when it throws up surprises. It’s always more interesting when the underdogs topple the titans, or at least get a sniff at dethroning them. This year has three teams looking to make the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With the season well underway, now is a good time to take stock and see if there are any unexpected prospects playing out of their skin and above their station, showing the potential of making the playoffs and potentially making history in 2020. Here are just 3 teams that fit this description, along with the likelihood of their dreams of Stanley Cup contention coming true.
Three Surprises for 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs
When it comes to reaching the playoffs, the past decade has not been kind to the Dallas Stars. From incapacitating injuries to head coach switch-overs, a few elements have hampered their performance at various points. While they managed to secure a playoff place last season, there is no guarantee that they will repeat the same trick this year.
Of course because they are far from a sure thing, the Stars are perfectly positioned to pull it out of the bag and silence the naysayers if they somehow manage to make their performance in the remaining games as consistent as possible.
Unrelenting offense is likely to be their strongest strategy for victory, and at this point it is entirely possible that they will breeze into the playoffs, or at least get there without making it look too much like hard work. They may not have managed to secure a licensing deal to appear in the games on this site, but perhaps a playoff place could change that.
In terms of the raw chances of the Stars reaching the playoffs, most bookmakers agree that they are current in contention, although the likelihood of them winning the cup outright is as low as 1.7% by some measures. This would make their victory all the sweeter.
If you had to pick one team that has something to prove this season, then the Winnipeg Jets would surely be at the top of the list. They have a couple of playoff appearances under their belt since ditching their former guise as the Atlanta Thrashers, although there have also been setbacks and disappointments in the past eight years that have kept them away from achieving glory.
At the moment the odds of them reaching the playoffs this year are about 50/50, which is not exactly encouraging. They have also suffered a few recent losses, which are likely to cause concern for fans. However, there is plenty of promise being shown by younger members of the team, with the likes of Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine really growing into their roles and making more of an impact.
The more that the team gels together and works as a unit, the better their chances of playoff success will be.
Unlike the other two teams, the Edmonton Oilers have a pretty well stocked trophy cabinet, although most of the trophies have been gathering dust for a few decades. They also have a statistically lower chance of getting into the playoffs this season than the Jets or the Stars, but the gap between each team is relatively narrow, which could make for an interesting finish.
Another reason to keep a close eye on them is that although they have had a rough time over the past 11 games, with some already writing off their trajectory as destined for failure. If, on the other hand, they can play a strong defensive game and take the opportunities that are afforded them, a thrilling playoff-worthy finish is not impossible.
DALLAS, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 21: Connor Hellebuyck #37 of the Winnipeg Jets makes a save in front of Corey Perry #10 of the Dallas Stars and Tucker Poolman #3 in the first period at American Airlines Center on November 21, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)