by Max Anderson ’19
The Minnesota Wild are currently sitting at the top of the Western Conference standings with a record of 37-13-6 (7-2-1 in their last 10 games), hoping to continue their momentum and capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. The Wild possess excellent veteran leadership, a plethora of scoring talent, and a hot goaltender which concocts their recipe for success.
Captain Mikko Koivu has emerged as one of the league’s best leaders, as well as his co-leaders, assistant captains Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Eric Staal, who captained the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup, has proved to be a key off-season acquisition to provide additional veteran leadership. Comprising the majority of the offensive talent are Parise and 24-year-old offensive weapons Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, and Mikael Granlund.
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk is currently leading all NHL goaltenders in both wins and save percentage. Goaltending is essential for a deep playoff run, and with the way Dubnyk has been performing this season, he has proven to be tough to beat. With their recent disappointment in playoff appearances and performance, the Wild have a chance to finally click this post-season.
Minnesota stands atop the highly competitive Central Division that includes Mid-West powerhouses Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues. With a deep and talented roster, along with great success thus far, the Minnesota Wild are making a name for themselves in the Stanley Cup conversation.
by Sam Scanlon ’19
As nervous as I am to say this, I believe this is finally the year that the Washington Capitals will bring home the coveted Stanley Cup trophy. The Capitals are undoubtedly the hottest team in the NHL right now, leading the entire league with a record of 39-11-6, including an incredible mark of 18-3 since the start of the new year. Center Nicklas Backstrom has been sensational and is currently tied for second in the NHL in points with 60. Braden Holtby has also elevated his game this year, and is second in the NHL with a 2.02 GAA, and a record of 29-8-4. But perhaps the biggest reason why I am so confident in the Capitals to win it all this year lies in three-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin is having another incredible year, already recording 26 goals to go along with 25 assists, for a total of 51 points.
Since Ovechkin entered the league in 2004, the Capitals have been to the playoffs eight times and won their respective division six times. However, despite the division titles and playoff appearances in the past 13 years, the Capitals have never advanced past the second round since Ovechkin has been there, leading many to criticize the star’s clutch factor.
I believe Ovechkin is on a mission to prove his doubters wrong this year and will put the team on his back in the postseason. Ultimately, it will be up to him to get Washington to bring home their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.