With 24 hockey teams heading to the playoffs this year there are many different matchups than can occur. Normally there's 16 teams but because of the nature of what's going on in the world, plus the NHL trying to squeeze in an extra buck, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are as unpredictable as ever. With that said, here are the Top 5 Best Stanley Cup Final matchups possible.
1. Edmonton Oilers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
This should be number one on almost everyone’s list. Crosby vs McDavid, Malkin vs Draistl, no question the excitement would go through the roof. We never got to see Lemieux vs Gretzky in the Stanley Cup Finals and that's unfortunate, but the possibility is here! Crosby is 32 and the Penguins look to have a few more deep runs left in them, while McDavid's crew is young and has a ton to prove.
Both Crosby and Malkin have been hurt this season yet that hasn't slowed Pittsburgh. Though Edmonton has slightly improved on their backend which has been bleak the last few seasons, the duo of Draisaitl and McDavid is the best in hockey. Despite the Oilers shortcomings, Edmonton has overachieved this season's thanks to a new coach and GM.
Crosby vs McDavid in the Stanley Cup finals is a fantasy matchup that many hockey fans would feel lucky if it came true.
2. Colorado Avalanche vs Tampa Bay Lightning
On paper this could be a classic Stanley Cup final, two offensive heavyweights that are prone to score a lot of goals. Tampa and Colorado are 1st and 2nd in goals average per game and the Lightning also rank 1st in goals, Colorado is in 4th respectively.
The Lightning with their roster of Kucherov, Stamkos, and Point up front with Hedman and McDonough in the back, all the while Vasilevskiyin minds the net. The Russian netminder had another superb season and has an opportunity to grab his second Vezina. The Avalanche don't have just McKinnon, Mikko Rantenen when healthy he can produce, captain Gabriel Landeskog the captain, and Rookie of the Year nominee Cale Makar has turned heads this season for his offensive awareness.
Knowing the offensive talent both teams possess, it could be a wild and high scoring Stanley Cup final.
3. St. Louis Blues vs Washington Captials
A between the last two Stanley Cup winners would be a great story line if these two teams meet in the finals. Who wouldn't love to see Alexander Ovechkin win a second cup? And the man is still a goal scoring machine, notching his 8th Rocket Richard trophy. The Blues flew under the radar last season to win the Cup, and this year St. Louis has continued their strong play. Finishing first in the Central Division.
The Blues aren't a flashy team but their fans rally around them like no other. Players like Ryan O' Reilly, Vladimir Tarensnko and Alex Pietrangelo all play in the "dirty areas'', simply put, they are made for playoff hockey. The Capitals elite offence against the defiant defence of the Blues would be an excellent match.
4. Chicago Blackhawks vs Toronto Maple Leafs
The chances of this happening are pretty slim, but still, an original 6 matchup between the Leafs and Chicago would be an entertaining series. The Leafs have had some ups and downs this season to say the least, meanwhile the Blackhawks have been quite the surprise with just how good they’ve been this season.
4th year player Auston Matthews has elevated his goal scoring status, this season ranking third in the league. Who knows, if the league didn't stop play, it's possible Matthews could have snatched the Rocket trophy away from Ovie and Pasta. The Leafs are one of the best offensive teams in the league, but are also one the worst, mind you the Hawks aren’t exactly stout on defence either.
This season the Hawks had a three goal lead and almost squandered it against Toronto in their first meeting, barely hanging on for a 5-4 victory. No question if there's any chance the Leafs face the Hawks in the finals both offences could surge against each other's bad defences.
5. Boston Bruins vs Vegas Golden Knights
I hate to say it but when the Bruins are in the Finals it does ramp up the excitement. Who can forget their 2011 Cup victory or their collapse against the Hawks in game 6 back in 2013. Last year's battle against the Blues served up some solid playoff moments and some of the highest ratings the NHL has ever seen. Add Vegas to the recipe, who knows what you get!
Defensively the Bruins don't let up and Rask had another stellar season, and given their offensive prowess as well, there is a reason the Bruins have the best record in the league. Vegas in their third season is still winning games and making playoff appearances. Vegas finished first in the Pacific division and their offence is one of the best in the West. The chemistry of Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone looks to be a good tandem, giving the Knights a formidable top line.
Marc-Andre Fleury is still going strong at 35, and no question a battle of the goaltenders could make some great playoff hockey. The Bruins and Knights could produce a fun finals, knowing the Bruins track record in finals and Vegas going to their 2nd finals appearance in their first three seasons in existence could make for a very underrated and exciting finals.