Atlantic Division Stanley Cup Chances: Why Each Team Could or Couldn’t Win

Atlantic Division Stanley Cup
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 07: Boston Bruins center Sean Kuraly (52) battles Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alex Killorn (17) as Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) have at it during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 7, 2020 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Atlantic Division is filled with exciting rivalries. In part because this division contains four of the six original teams. Starting August 1st, five of the seven Atlantic Division teams will take part in the exciting tournament that will be the 24-team playoff format. The Montreal Canadiens, the Florida Panthers, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and last but not least, the Boston Bruins will make an appearance in this tournament that will take place in Toronto.  It’s important to note that the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning have a pass to the first round but the three other teams will have to win their qualifying round to move on. Still, with so much competition, the odds of an Atlantic Division Stanley Cup seem high.

In this article, we’ll take a look at one reason these five teams could win the Cup and one reason they couldn’t.

Why Each Atlantic Division Team Could and Couldn’t Win the Stanley Cup

Montreal Canadiens

Why They Could Win

Awarded the Vezina Trophy for the 2014-15 season, Carey Price is the reason why the Habs could win. Carey Price was once considered to be the best goaltender in the league. These past few seasons, Price has struggled to get back to his Vezina Trophy-winning days but he shows glimpses every once in a wild performing to the best of his abilities. The furthest Price has ever gone in the playoffs was back in 2014 when the Habs lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the New York Rangers. He’s getting older and closer to calling it quits. Therefore, we’ll see the 32-year-old being dominant in the crease trying to win a Stanley Cup.

Why They Couldn’t Win

The Montreal Canadiens weak spot is their defensive core. The biggest issue is on the left side. Ben Chiarot will most likely be the top left-handed defenceman for the Habs in the tournament and although he has done well this season, he is not a top-pairing defenceman. The other left-handed defencemen are Victor Mete, Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Gustav Oloffson. Mete has just recovered from an injury, Kulak and Ouellet have missed the majority of Phase Three being deemed unable to practice and Oloffson isn’t NHL caliber. With that in mind, the left side is looking very weak. On the right side, Shea Weber is fragile and if he were to get injured, the Habs would have no chance at all.

Florida Panthers

Why They Could Win

The Florida Panthers have one of the best offences in the NHL. In fact, in this season, they had a 2.82 GF/60 which is the fourth-best in the league. This is the main reason why they could win. Their forward core is capable of scoring a lot of goals. With players such as Aleksander Barkov, Evgenii Dadonov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Mike Hoffman, this team is built to win high scoring games. They’re also a very deep team when it comes to forwards with guys like Brett Connolly and Noel Acciari playing on the bottom-six. They also made a few moves a the trade deadline to try and solidify an already great top-nine bringing in guys like Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark.

Also, not only do they have a lot of offence coming from their forwards, but they also have a lot of offence coming from the backhand. Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad are two defencemen contributing to the offence with their exceptional hockey IQ in the offensive zone.

Why They Couldn’t Win

After granting a 7-year deal worth $70M to Sergei Bobrovsky last summer, the Panthers haven’t been thrilled with his performances so far. With a .900 save percentage this season, the Russian goalie ranks 44th amongst goaltenders with at least 25 games played. That could be the big reason why the Panthers couldn’t win the Stanley Cup in 2020.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Why They Could Win

For the Toronto Maple Leafs it’s pretty simple. Their roster is the reason they can win. First and foremost, they have star power. What does that mean? It means that they have the key players that can make the difference. Guys like Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and Morgan Rielly all fall into that category. They have a team that is built around these stars. Another important part of their roster is that these stars are surrounded by other great players like William Nylander, Jake Muzzin, Tyson Barrie, and more. Also, in the crease, they have a solid goaltender in Frederik Andersen.

With that being said, on paper, the Leafs have a team that is capable of winning the Stanley Cup.

Why They Couldn’t Win

The reason why they couldn’t win the Stanley Cup is their defence. The issue isn’t their defensive core but rather the way the team plays defensively. They finished the season with a 2.71 GA/60 tied for fifth-worst in the league. The Leafs are also ranked 14th worst in the league when it comes to xGA/60. That means that they are a middle of the pack team when it comes to the quality of shots they allow. When Toronto will face good teams in the tournament, allowing quality chances will be disastrous. This is the main reason why the Maple Leafs couldn’t be the 2020 Stanley Cup champions.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Why They Could Win

The reason why the Tampa Bay Lighting could win this season is the balance in their roster. Let me explain myself. First of all, the Lighting has a good mix between older and more experienced players and younger players. They have guys like Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Ryan McDonagh that are experienced veterans and guys like Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, Brayden Point that are young and bring something different to a Lighting team that hasn’t been able to go all the way in the past.

Also, they have a great balance when it comes to scoring goals and allowing goals. This team was built to be good both offensively and defensively. It shows when we look at their xGF/60 and xGA/60 that are ranked seventh-best and fourth-best in the league respectively. That means they take high-quality shots and they’re able to limit the other teams to low-quality shots. They can do it all. The balance on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s roster could be the reason they win 16 games in the playoffs.

Why They Couldn’t Win

It’s not easy to find reasons why the Lighting couldn’t go all the way. The biggest knock against them could be an inability to stay out of the penalty box. Now, the Bolts didn’t have the worst powerplay in the league but it’s still of note. They had the 14th best penalty-kill playing against good teams and bad teams around the NHL. When one takes into consideration that the Lighting will play against better-and-better opponents as the tournament goes along, they could be in trouble when facing teams with amazing powerplays. Especially taking into account the fact that the Lightning was the fourth-most penalized team in the NHL this season. If the Bolts are undisciplined they could go home early.

Boston Bruins

Why They Could Win

The special teams could be the reason why the Boston Bruins could go all the way. The Bruins have an outstanding powerplay with guys like David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug, and more. In fact, they finished second in the league with a 25.2 percent powerplay. The Edmonton Oilers were the only team with a better powerplay percentage. If teams aren’t disciplined while facing Boston, it could be a walk in the park for the Bruins.

Also, they are amazing on the penalty kill. They finished third this season in that regard with a penalty kill percentage of 84.3. They can defend themselves effectively when they get in trouble. The special teams could be a big part of the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup this season.

Why They Couldn’t Win

The reason they couldn’t win is their average age. The Bruins are one of the oldest teams in the league. With the long pause, there are concerns that the older teams could have some difficulty getting back into the game as fast as younger teams. With veterans such as Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand getting older, it could be hard for the Bruins to be ready as soon as the tournament starts. Only a few players had access to an ice surface during the break. This will be challenging for the veterans that need to work every day in order to stay in shape and be ready to play hockey when it comes back. It could have an impact on the chances of the Bruins winning the tournament.

Overview

Taking all of what has been said into consideration, the favorite to win the 2020 Stanley Cup within the Atlantic Divison is the Tampa Bay Lightning. The biggest reason being their great balance all around on their roster. It’s something so little teams have in the NHL although it is very important to have. Also, after an early exit last spring, they will want to prove that they are capable of going all the way and they definitely have the team to do so.

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