Every year there are a number of teams that are said to be Stanley Cup contenders for whatever reasons, many of them are made up though. I decided to look at some statistics from the past four seasons to see what it takes to be a Stanley Cup contender. Unfortunately, because of the shootout rule that was added in 2005-06, it's difficult to go back further than that so the sample size is somewhat small.
Here are some numbers for the last 16 teams that made it to a conference final:
-All 16 of them had at least 95 points in the regular season.
Teams that will not respect this rule: Boston, Montreal, NY Rangers and Philadelphia.
-15 of the 16 had a goal differential of at least +10
Teams that probably will not respect this rule: Boston, Montreal, Nashville, NY Rangers and Ottawa.
-All 16 of them had at least 46 points at home.
Teams that will not respect this rule: Boston and NY Rangers.
-All 16 of them had at least 41 points on the road.
Teams that will not respect this rule: Ottawa and Philadelphia.
-All 16 of them ranked in the top half of the league in goals per game.
Teams that probably will not respect this rule: Boston, Calgary, Montreal, New Jersey and Phoenix.
-15 of the 16 had at least 1.10 pts per game after March 1st
Teams that currently do not respect this rule: Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Philadelphia and San Jose.
Based on those statistics, there are 5 teams that have a chance of making it to the conference finals.
Eastern Conference: Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
Western Conference: Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks
The Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks could join this group if they get hot in the final few games, but, at this point, these five teams are the only ones with a chance of making it to the conference finals.
You will probably hear a lot of experts mention over the next few weeks that teams need a good goaltender to go far in the playoffs but remember that Chris Osgood had an 0.887 save percentage in the regular season last year and that Dwayne Roloson had an 0.905 save percentage when he took the Oilers to the Stanley Cup finals. Yes it takes good performances from your goaltender to go far in the playoffs but any of them can get hot in the playoffs.
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