With the National Hockey League now into the second part of the regular season there are plenty of clubs who still believe they have what it takes to go on and win the Stanley Cup.
Calling a winner after 40-odd games is fraught with danger, particularly as there many sides capable of finding their form heading into the play-offs.
Read on as we look at four possible winners of this year’s Stanley Cup.
Lightning eager to maintain relentless pace
Tampa Bay Lightning have undoubtedly been the best team during the first part of the season and they are worthy favourites at the FanDuel sportsbook app to win the Stanley Cup.
At the halfway mark they had a record of 32-8-2, putting them on course to beat the NHL’s single-season win record of 62 set by Detroit Red Wings in 1995/96.
With Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point enjoying stellar seasons, it would be a brave move to back against Lightning lifting the famous trophy in 2019.
Babcock know-how could be the key
Leafs’ coach Mike Babcock last won the Stanley Cup back in 2008 and he will be eager to end his drought this year.
Toronto are second only to Tampa Bay in terms of offensive production, but weaknesses on their blueline could cost them down the home stretch.
However, if Babcock can strengthen his defensive unit over the next few weeks the Leafs could be serious contenders for the Cup.
Rinne aiming to avoid form dip
Nashville Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne claimed his first Vezina Trophy last season, but his dip in form during the play-offs ultimately cost his side the chance of glory.
He is having another excellent season this time around, posting a .921 SV% after 31 games with three shutouts.
If Rinne can hold things together during the post-season the Predators will be dangerous, but the doubts about the Finnish stopper makes them a risky betting proposition.
Dangerous to write off the Capitals
Any thoughts that the Washington Capitals would suffer a hangover after winning the 2018 Stanley Cup have proven to be pie-in-the-sky.
The Capitals lead the Metropolitan Division at the halfway point and star forward Alex Ovechkin is showing no signs of slowing down.
Ovechkin is once again averaging over a point-per-game and it would be no surprise to see him lead the Capitals to their second successive Stanley Cup victory this term.