2012 NHL Playoffs: Why Each Playoff Team Can Hoist The Cup

The National Hockey League Playoffs are around the corner. It's one of the most exciting events in sports, mainly because a hot goaltender or a couple bounces of the puck are all that separates teams from winning the Stanley Cup.

In the interest of breaking down the playoffs for the everyman, it's time to let it be known why each of the 16 playoff teams can win it all.


New York Rangers (1)

This season has been a memorable one for the Broadway Blueshirts. They inked prized free agent forward Brad Richards in the offseason. They defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the the Outdoor Winter Classic, hockey's most visible game. Since midseason, they've ruled the Eastern Conference. There is no secret to their success. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, aka The King, aka every female hockey fan's crush, has been incredible this year. When he's on his game, he's more than capable to lead the Rangers back to Cup glory.

Boston Bruins (2)

If you paid attention to last year's playoffs, you know that the big bad Bruins took home the chalice. They have the same core in place this season, and it's hard to bet against the reigning champs. Big and physical, Boston can wear down anyone in its path.

Florida Panthers (3)

Figuring out a reason the Panthers can win the Cup is like mastering calculus. It's tough to do. Florida's ending of a 11-year playoff drought is a nice story. They don't have the most firepower or best goaltending, but perhaps they can ride the emotion of finally making the playoffs to the Cup. Don't bet on it, though.

Pittsburgh Penguins (4)

Pittsburgh has the same star power it had from the 2009 Cup-winning team. Although now, the stars have gotten even better. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world, and Evgeni Malkin scored 50 goals this season. Malkin may be the second best player in the world. Vegas thinks the Penguins have a shot, too. Pittsburgh is the odds on favorite to win the Cup according to the books at 4/1.

Philadelphia Flyers (5)

One of these years, it's going to work out for the Flyers. Despite routinely making the playoffs, the Bullies of Broad Street haven't won the Cup since 1975. Is this the year? They have to get past state rival Pittsburgh in the first round. If they can, the deep defense and prolific offense makes them a serious contender.

New Jersey Devils (6)

Probably the most underrated team in the playoffs. The Devils finished fourth in the deep Atlantic Division. They boast star forwards Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. Those two are potent enough offensively to carry the team from Jersey on a surprise run.

Washington Capitals (7)

Even the casual hockey fan knows how talented Alexander Ovechkin is, but they might not know about Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals struggled throughout the season, but Backstrom missed close to 40 games with a concussion. With him back in the lineup, Washington can click on all cylinders and make some noise. Also, they are no longer burdened with expectations which may help them flourish.

Ottawa Senators (8)

Well, Ottawa needs to pray. If they somehow, someway, miraculously get past the Rangers, they could benefit from upheaval in some other matchups. It will take a lot of luck, but every team that makes the playoffs has a shot.


Vancouver Canucks (1)

For the second consecutive year, the Canucks have the best record in the NHL. They can score, they can play defense, they have two good goalies. They finished one win short of the Cup last season. Most of last year's team is back, and they're even more hungry than before. Vancouver has all the makings of a potential champion.

St. Louis Blues (2)

After an in-season coaching change, the young Blues played like gangbusters. Can they carry it over to the postseason? Their youth says probably not, but being young can (sometimes) help a team more than hurt it. There's no doubt St. Louis has found a way to play high quality hockey. If they can get through the early jitters, they'll be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

Phoenix Coyotes (3)

Props to goalie Mike Smith for carrying the Yotes this season. Coach Dave Tippett is one of the best in the league and knows how to get the most out of his team. With a community (hopefully) rallying around Phoenix, who has been rumored to be on the move, Smith can help use that support to launch a long stay in the postseason.

Nashville Predators (4)

In the country music capital of the world, the Predators make some noise of their own. They're as deep as any team defensively and goalie Pekka Rinne is a show-stopper. The enormous goalie can steal every game he plays. That includes the 16 needed to drink from the Cup.

Detroit Red Wings (5)

Arguably the most successful team in the modern NHL, it's never smart to bet against the Wings. They have tons of experience, talent, and rarely lose at home (31-7-3). You can bet on them defending the ice at Joe Louis Arena. With a few road wins, that adds up to series wins...something Detroit is used to.

Chicago Blackhawks (6)

Even without captain Jonathan Toews in the lineup due to head injury, the Hawks still can score with the best of them. With high-end offensive talent in forwards Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, it's hard to count Chicago out. Toughest sweaters in the history of the game are reason enough to get behind their cause.

San Jose Sharks (7)

Like fellow seven-seed Washington, the Sharks usually come into the playoffs highly touted only to underachieve. This year, there's no pressure and much of the talent remains. They will have the benefit of playing the inexperienced Blues in the first round. If their experience helps them through that round, they can keep going. Goalie Antti Niemi also has a Cup win in his young career.

Los Angeles Kings (8)

Don't let the eight next to their name fool you about the Kings. With a gritty and talented lineup, they are as dangerous as an eight seed has been. They also have Vezina candidate Jonathan Quick in net. Quick's 1.95 goals against average is second in the NHL. If he plays like he has all year, the Kings are capable of pulling some upsets.

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