The 2016 Stanley Cup was a showdown between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks. The Stanley Cup Finals went to game six, where the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to defeat the Sharks and win the Stanley Cup.
The race for the NHL Eastern Conference Championship is as packed as it has been in years. Defending Eastern Conference Champion Tampa Bay Lightning return with unfinished business after falling short of a Stanley Cup title a season ago. But it will be the Washington Capitals who enter as the favorites to win the East, after the Caps posted an over 100 point season and won the Presidents Cup. The Caps road to the finals won’t be easy, with a veteran Pittsburgh Penguins squad headlined by ultra-talented Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin playing their best hockey down the stretch. On the other side of the Eastern Conference bracket, the Florida Panthers will square off against the New York Islanders, in a first round battle of two hungry franchises. Throw in veteran Rangers and Flyers teams, and the 2016 NHL Eastern Conference Playoffs are set and ready to be one of the best in years.
Last year’s Western Conference Champions the Chicago Blackhawks return to look for their 4th Western Conference and Stanley Cup title since 2010. While it will be hard to not count Chicago as a favorite in the West, they open the 1st round against a St. Louis Blues club that is peaking at the right time, and has the goaltending to go all the way to the Stanley Cup. The Dallas Stars claim the #1 Western Conference seed and score goals in bunches behind one of the fastest lineups in the NHL and will be one of the favorites to advance deep into the Western Conference Playoffs. On the other side of the bracket, the Kings return after missing last post season and will play a familiar foe in the talented San Jose Sharks. Add in the Ducks, Predators, and Wild, and the 2016 Western Conference Playoffs are set and ready to face off.