Penguins Still Favorites to Hoist Stanley Cup Among NHL’s Battle-Tested Final Four

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Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Sidney CrosbyThen there were four. After a couple of quick series in the East and a couple of seven-game series in the West, we’re now down to the final four in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Of note, the four teams remaining — the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings — are the last four teams to win the Stanley Cup.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the four teams as well as their chances to win it all.

Pittsburgh Penguins

This team is your favorite at 7-2 on the Stanley Cup futures. They had a couple of small hiccups in Round 1 but that was mostly due to problems in net. Since Tomas Vokoun has steadied the situation, this team has looked like an unstoppable juggernaut.

The Pens have scored 47 goals in 11 playoff games and led the NHL with 165 in 48 regular season games, which is a 3.4 goals per game average. In the playoffs, they are averaging nearly one more goal per game (4.3).

They say goaltending and defense wins Stanley Cups, but the Pens are favored to prove that theory wrong.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins are a tough team to peg. They needed a miracle to survive the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1 but then easily smoked the New York Rangers in Round 2. Many people believe that they’ve had a relatively easy lineup of opponents so far and that the Penguins will be a significant step up in competition.

However, the Bruins continue to be overlooked. They’re a veteran team who has done it before, and while they never make it look pretty like Pittsburgh, they execute well. Boston plays solid defense and they play a physical brand of hockey. They always give themselves a chance to win, and that’s unlikely to change in the final four.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks were pushed to their limits in Round 2, needing overtime in Game 7 to dispose of the Detroit Red Wings. On paper, this record-setting team looks loaded. Their blue line rotation is probably the best of the remaining teams, their offense should be as good as anyone and their goaltending — the one perceived weakness — has been stellar.

The Blackhawks are in good shape, but they’ll need more out of their stars like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to win the Cup.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings are the defending champs and at times they’ve looked like it and at other times, they haven’t. Scoring still seems to be an issue as they are averaging just two goals per game in the playoffs. However, goaltender Jonathan Quick is playing out of his mind with a 1.50 goals against average in the playoffs along with a .948 save percentage and three shutouts.

Quick is the best of the four goalies remaining and he can definitely steal a series or two. The Kings’ opportunity to win it all — again — will depend on their offense and what they’ll be able to do in support of Quick.

© 2015 New England Sports Network

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