The Saturday Slate is a weekly discussion or platform where members of Win Column Sports provide their respective opinions and thoughts on an event that took place in the prior week. Additionally, there is also a running pool amongst the contributors based on our picks for Saturday’s match-ups. This week, the Win Column panel discusses the NHL action on March 2nd.
With the NHL trade deadline behind us, it’s time to officially push towards the playoffs. As some teams loaded up for a run at the Stanley Cup, others sat idly by, watching the trades roll in. Now that teams have made their moves, they find out if they made the right moves. Will they make the collection of worst deadline deals next year, or will they look like heroes? Not every team’s moves are the right ones to make them a winner. That said, one team will be raising a championship banner next fall, and Nashville will raise whatever banner they can find. In this week’s edition of the NHL Saturday Slate, the WCSN panel has the question posed to them: As of today, who is the favourite to win the Stanley Cup?
With the trade deadline come and gone, some teams heavily invested in the impending playoffs and some stayed put with what they have. While plenty can change between now and the beginning of the playoffs, if I had to choose a team at this moment, it would be the Winnipeg Jets.
Right now, the Jets aren’t playing like contenders. They currently sport a 3-6-1 record over their past 10 games and have lost their scoring as well as two key defensive pieces in Josh Morrissey and Dustin Byfuglien. The reason why I’m all-in on the Jets is the sheer potential. Patrik Laine alone is enough to fuel an offence as we’ve seen on several occasions. The Jets went out an acquired Kevin Hayes at the deadline, which could become a catalyst to heating up the recently slumping Laine. Health is the name of the game for the Winnipeg Jets, especially on the back-end. However, with the Jets physical brand of hockey, that can be easier said than done as the team marches towards the postseason.
Only a few short weeks ago, hockey pundits had written off the Columbus Blue Jackets as sellers at this year’s deadline. Despite sitting 3rd in the Metropolitan Division, the team looked to be moving on from star pieces Sergei Brobovsky and Artemi Panarin with the pair’s contracts expiring at the end of the season. Rather than risk losing the duo for nothing at the end of the season, pundits analyzed, it would be best to move Panarin and Bobrovsky in the hopes of rebuilding the franchise.
Boy, how things change.
The Blue Jackets made the first major splash of the leadup to the NHL Trade Deadline, shipping a pair of prospects, a first-round pick and an additional conditional first to the Ottawa Senators for star forward Matt Duchene. Ryan Dzingel joined his former Sens teammate in Columbus just a day later. The Jackets defence-by-committee was solidified with the addition of Adam McQuaid. The team is officially all-in on the Stanley Cup and while there’s the potential the moves backfire should players move on in the offseason, the Blue Jackets have a real shot at the first championship in the organization’s history.
I’m going to go with my bias and my good friend Carl on this one. The Washington Capitals will repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. We have basically the same roster going into the playoffs as we had last year when we won it all. Alexander Ovechkin has once again proven that he’s the best goal scorer in the NHL. My only question mark is once again our goaltending and this year Evgeny Kuznetsov hasn’t been playing as well as he should be. He probably should’ve won the Conn Smythe last year and will need to perform like that again for the Capitals to repeat. Hopefully, Pittsburgh doesn’t make the playoffs because I don’t think anybody in the Metro beats Washington in a Best of 7, especially Columbus, they won’t get out of the first round again, book it.
If history has told us anything, and it has, it’s that teams win multiple Stanley Cups. Pittsburgh Penguins. Chicago Blackhawks. Los Angeles Kings. Those teams built quality rosters and then kept on winning. Therefore, I fully expect the Washington Capitals to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Much like last year, they have been flying under the radar all season. However, with the additions of Nick Jensen and Carl Hagelin at the trade deadline, the Capitals have a minorly tweaked roster primed to return to the playoffs with the same cast of characters as last season. Plus, I will always be aggressively pro-Carl. Sure, Barry Trotz has left for John Tavares-less climates, but the Capitals have essentially the same team as last year and they will succeed under Todd Reirden, hoisting another Stanley Cup.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have consistently been a playoff team for nearly a decade. With last years playoff departure in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bolts are showing this year how bad they want the Cup. With all of their players performing well, the most important piece of the playoff puzzle is the goaltender duo. Louis Domingue (19-5-0) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (29-7-4) have both proven they can handle almost anything thrown at them. With red-hot players like Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman playing in front of them, I think the Lightning will have no issue reclaiming the throne.
WinColumnSport’s Saturday Picks
|Oilers @ Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Oilers||Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Oilers|
|Blackhawks @ Kings||Blackhawks||Kings||Blackhawks||Blackhawks||Blackhawks|
|Hurricanes @ Panthers||Panthers||Hurricanes||Hurricanes||Hurricanes||Panthers|
|Sabres @ Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs||Sabres||Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs|
|Penguins @ Canadiens||Canadiens||Canadiens||Canadiens||Penguins||Canadiens|
|Senators @ Lightning||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning|
|Devils @ Bruins||Bruins||Bruins||Bruins||Bruins||Bruins|
|Red Wings @ Coyotes||Coyotes||Coyotes||Coyotes||Red Wings||Red Wings|
|Stars @ Blues||Blues||Stars||Blues||Blues||Blues|
|Wild @ Flames||Flames||Flames||Flames||Flames||Flames|
Records Thus Far:
- Ben: (104-87), Last Week: (5-6), Winning Percentage: (54%)
- Carl: (69-58), Last Week: (0-0), Winning Percentage (54%)
- Spencer: (100-92), Last Week: (8-3), Winning Percentage: (51%)
- Arik: (97-95), Last Week: (5-6), Winning Percentage: (51%)
- Caleb: (3-8), Last Week: (3-8), Winning Percentage: (27%)
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