Competition for the Penguins at the 2018 Stanley Cup
The illustrious Stanley Cup is the oldest trophy awarded to a professional sports franchise, and considered by many to be the most important tournament for the NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins will trying to defend their title for the third consecutive time, having defeated the Nashville Predators to take it for the second time in a row, and many experts believe they have a good chance of doing it.
Before the Eastern Conference, Penguins, the last team to successfully win so many straight Stanley Cup Titles was the New York Islanders. They managed to take it home 4 times, from 1980 to 1983. The Detroit Red Wings had the chance to win a third straight title in 1999, and Penguins themselves would have done it if they’d won in 993, after taking the cup in 1991 and 1992. A 3-win streak is a very momentous occasion, and Pittsburgh will no doubt be doing everything possible to clinch it.
Tampa Bay Lightning and Edmonton Oilers Looking Strong
The Metropolitan Division Penguins are not the only team to look at for this year’s Stanley Cup. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets have also received attention, but the stiffest competition for the Pens, in the Eastern Conference, could come from Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bay Street Bullies have not been to a Stanley Cup final since winning in 1967, and the Jackets have never been. The Atlantic Division Bolts, missing the playoffs by a single point last season and played the Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks as recently as 2015, seem like a very strong option.
The Western Conference Pacific Division Edmonton Oilers have tried for a Stanley Cup Hattrick of their own twice, and had they won in 1986 or 1989 they would have done it. It’s pretty safe to say they have as much riding on bringing home the cup as they Pens do, if not twice as much more. The feeling their dedicated fans will have if they get to watch The Oil at the playoffs in April 2018 is probably similar to the adrenaline-pumping sensation that is delivered by the best online slots Canada has to offer. Captain Connor McDavid was able to play a full 2016-2017 season, and along with a stronger line-up this seems to have helped the team to really find its stride.
If Not the Oil, then the Hawks
Picking general favourites is all very well, but remember that the Western Conference is going to be played with one team from the Pacific Division and one team from the Eastern Division, while the Eastern Conference will see teams from the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions going head-to-head. We need an Eastern Division favourite to round everything off, and the best contender seems to be the Chicago Blackhawks.
Having been close enough to winning over the years but never quite getting there, the Hawks seems to be in a make-or-break situation and probably wants victory so badly they can taste it. With such strong teams and everything to play for, the 2018 Stanley Cup should be thrill-ride for spectators and bettors.