Last seasons defeated finalists, the Boston Bruins, are favorites to lift the Stanley Cup this year, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are hot on their heels according to the most recent predictions.
The Bruins agonizingly lost in the 2019 final to St Louis Blues 4-1. NBC explains how goals by Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford ended the Blues’ run of never having won the Stanley Cup, despite 390 playoff games. The Bruins were hot favorites, with St Louis having been in last place in January, but the underdogs were victorious after a historical run.
Despite that defeat, it is the Bruins and Lightning who are now favorites for this year’s competition, with the Bolts snapping up a couple of new faces before the trade deadline in February.
Raw Charge reports that they secured the services of Barclay Goodrow on deadline day, from the San Jose Sharks. Goodrow is a physical forward with a solid penalty kill, but obtaining him did come as a but of a surprise, coming just a week after acquiring Blake Coleman from the New Jersey Devils. Coleman has scored 20 goals a season since the 2018-19 campaign and lit the lamp 21 times in 57 games last season.
Despite the solid trade acquisitions, Bwin currently has the Boston Bruins as favorites to win the Stanley Cup, just ahead of the Bolts. The six-time champions are without a Stanley Cup title since 2011 but were losing finalists in 2013 as well as last season. Zdeno Chara is still going strong as a member of the Boston blue line and standing at 6 feet 9 inches is the tallest player ever to play in the NHL. Indeed, his absence in the 2014/15 season severely impacted their ability to follow up their Stanley Cup final defeat to Chicago Blackhawks.
They had been looking for a winger at the deadline and surprised many by acquiring Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for David Backes and defense prospect Axel Andersson. Kase is only 24 and has been signed through next season, and will then be a restricted free agent. In other words, he could be with the Bruins for the long haul and be a key figure for them over the coming years.
Losing Backes’ salary has also helped the Bruins immensely; he agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal back in 2016 but the Bruins only retaining 25% of that with his move to the Ducks, a mutually beneficial switch which NESN reports that the 35-year-old was grateful for.
Most of the core of their team has remained for this coming season with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and 42-year-old Chara all under contract for the 2020 campaign.
Despite being amongst the favorites, few teams make it to consecutive finals. In the last 10 seasons, there has only been one team that has appeared in the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive years: two-time winners the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.
With Chara almost surely entering his final season of a distinguished career, the scene is set for one of the NHL’s legends to bow out on a high, despite the challenge from the Bolts.