The shortened season this year in the NHL has made things a bit hectic for everyone involved. With the players missing out on a normal preseason, and games sandwiched into a few months, the Stanley Cup playoffs could be full of upsets this season.
That is not to say that upsets donít happen in other years. After all, the Los Angeles Kings were the #8 seed just a season ago and they ran through the playoffs. For those looking for some teams currently under the radar, here are three teams who have what it takes to hoist the trophy.
The best goaltender in the NHL can always be argued, but right now Craig Anderson can make a strong case to being the best. He currently leads the NHL in goals against average (1.49) and save percentage (.952) and is a hot favorite in fantasy hockey
. Everyone who follows the sport knows that a hot goaltender can carry a team a long way. Playing well at home is another sign for postseason success, and their 9-1-2 in Ottawa fits that mould as well.
Montreal, Pittsburgh and Boston might all get a little bit more publicity, but Ottawa seems like the best bet in the Eastern Conference at the end of February to be hoisting the cup in June.
San Jose Sharks
Everyone knew going into the season that the Sharks were not going to be a great offensive team, but right now their struggles are really keeping them out of the upper echelon of the Western Conference. They should have enough talent to finish in the top eight at the end of the season, meaning they could be a dangerous squad in the playoffs.
Defense can carry teams a long way, and Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski should get things figured out at some point to be more consistent offensively. With three conference finals appearances in the last decade, the Sharks still have the talent to make their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Although many might consider them more of a favorite than an underdog, the fact remains that all eyes continue to be on Chicago. The Ducks are the only other team with a double-digit difference this season in the Western Conference, and they are deep enough to withstand any injuries that might pop up in this shortened season. It could come down to survival mode for teams in the playoffs, with so many games in so little time.
With 10 players on the roster with at least three goals or more this season, there are numerous options for them to turn to. In a seven-game series, no one will want to face them.
*Special Thanks to FanDuel.com for this article