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2013 Stanley Cup Favorites and Dark Horses


The NHL regular season officially came to a close after Ottawa defeated Boston 4-2 on Sunday night. Now that the first round playoff match-ups are officially set, fans and bettors have an opportunity to take a look at each team’s potential path to a Stanley Cup final. Out of the 16 playoff teams, who has the best chance to win it all? And which teams might surprise us? Take a look at our favorites and top dark horses in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs:

Favorite: Chicago Blackhawks

No shocker here. The Blackhawks are the obvious favorite to come out of the East after proving to be one of the most balanced teams in the league. They’re record-setting point streak to open the season showed us they can get hot, but their play down the stretch also demonstrated that they are also consistently strong. As the number one ranked team in goals against (2.0 per game) and as the number two ranked scoring team (3.1 per game) in the league, the Blackhawks are certainly a threat to win the 2013 Stanley Cup.

Favorite: Pittsburgh Penguins

While the Blackhawks grabbed all the attention with their early season performance, the Penguins began to amass points quietly before going on a tear later in the year. Now, they enter the playoffs as the team with the second best record in the league and the number one scoring squad (3.4 goals per game). The Penguins may not be as balanced as Chicago, but they’ve seemingly gotten hot at just the right time and with a much safer road in the weaker Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh could be the team hoisting the Cup come June.

Favorite: Anaheim Ducks

With Chicago and Pittsburgh getting most of the love, the Ducks are a team that is often overlooked. Anaheim is strong on both ends of the ice (8th in scoring, 9th in goals against) approaches the game with a grind-it-out mentality, which is what teams need in the playoffs. The Ducks are a tough, hard-nosed team that could be poised to make a run. The only problem for them will be wading through the treacherous Western Conference, which has plenty of strong sleeper teams. Speaking of which, here are our favorite dark horse picks this postseason:

Dark Horse: St. Louis Blues

As the fourth seed in the West, the Blues are flying under the radar, but like Anaheim, St. Louis likes to get physical and mix things up. That style of play could be a recipe for success against skating teams like Chicago and Pittsburgh. The Blues don’t score a lot of goals (17th in the league), but they love to play slugfest type games and in the playoffs, there will plenty of those. Don’t be surprised if the Blues makes some noise this postseason.

Dark Horse: Los Angeles Kings

The Kings finished the season strong, but unfortunately, they’ll be matched up with St. Louis in the opening round as the West’s fifth seed. However, if they can get past the Blues, they’ll be just as big of a threat to the favorites.

As the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Kings have the experience and know-how to win the big one and considering they were in worse starting position last year as the West’s eight seed, we know they can overcome big odds. Since the Kings have almost the same roster they did last year, look for them to make another deep run after the Cup.

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