Since the NHL playoffs are fast approaching, many fans want to know who to place their money on to win the Stanley Cup. And the soundest advice is to go with a proven winner until somebody else proves that they can take it away from them. So it is not very hard to give advice about betting based on recent NHL history. You put your money on either the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings.
The current edition of each team has won the Stanley Cup each of the past four years with the Blackhawks winning another one in 2010. They are the current dynasties of the NHL. There is something different about a team once it gets over the hump and wins the big one. It is an intangible, a spiritual thing. Perhaps it is best described as knowing how to win. Somehow when these teams win, they get the key goal or save when they need it. They get players who rise to the occasion and sometimes carry the team on their backs. They do not panic when adversity strikes. They refuse to lose.
It happens in all sports, the key touchdown, interception, or quarterback sack in football. The timely hit or the great catch in baseball. The key bucket in basketball. Once you win, it is your crown to lose until somebody proves they can take it from you.
In the NHL, both the Kings and the Blackhawks still have that key core of players who have carried them to the top the last four years. It is going to be very difficult for any new team to dethrone them.
The Kings are anchored by all star goalie Jonathan Quick with Drew Doughty protecting him on defense. Up front the Kings rely on Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Dustin Brown. They have also picked up former Stanley Cup Champions Vincent Lecavalier from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Milan Lucic from the Boston Bruins. They have the experience to win.
The defending champion Blackhawks are just as formidable. Corey Crawford is a proven winner in goal and he has two all star defensemen, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook to rely on. And there is that offence led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa.
Neither team has to worry about finishing first in their conference. As long as either one is in the playoffs, they are a threat to win it all. There is a good chance they will meet each other in the conference final or an earlier round and that will be the series that decides who will win it all.
So who should win it? History has also shown that neither team, no matter how good it is has been able to win back-to-back championships. And the Blackhawks let one of their key core players, Patrick Sharp, go to Dallas which not surprisingly has shown marked improvement. Is that too significant a loss for the Blackhawks to overcome? So based on recent history and Jonathan Quick possibly winning another Conn Smythe trophy, the best choice seems to be the Los Angeles Kings. But if the defending champions were to repeat, it would not be an upset.