Who is your Stanley Cup favorite and why?
Scott Burnside: This the Washington Capitals' time. Superstar winger Alex Ovechkin saved some goals for the playoffs. Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has been a tremendous addition and the power play is going to be devastating. The Caps are four lines deep -- and all four lines can bite you. And, oh yeah, they have one of the top three or four goalies in the world in Braden Holtby. And at the end of the day, there is this: If not now, when?
Corey Pronman: Has to be Washington: stacked lineup from top to bottom. The Caps have all the elements you'd want to make a deep playoff run. Will they? Well, the playoffs are volatile and cruel, and one hot goalie for a couple of days can ruin your Cup hopes, as some Caps fans might remember all too well. But other than the San Jose Sharks, I don't see anyone else being close to matching up.
Rob Vollman: It's hard to find a statistical category in which the Capitals aren't among the league leaders. In the past, there were always a few concerns and/or a stronger alternative for the Stanley Cup, but that's not the case this season. This team is stacked from top to bottom, is without obvious flaws and is firing on all cylinders. The Cup is theirs to lose.
Craig Custance: Fine. I'll be different. I wanted to pick the Capitals, but I see that Team ESPN is all over Washington. And if we've learned anything, a consensus is probably not right. So give me the Chicago Blackhawks. Give me a team that is coming off a rare long summer. Give me a team that knows how to close out a series, that knows how to win the biggest games. We still don't know that about the Capitals. Everything appears to be breaking the Capitals' way in the East, but if the Blackhawks are waiting for them in the West, I'll take that edge in experience.
Pierre LeBrun: Although I think Washington has never been more poised to finally break through after all these years, I'm also going to take the Blackhawks. Most important to me is how much depth that Hawks blue line has, the most in years and not as top-heavy as it has been in the past. The Blackhawks had a longer-than-normal offseason, courtesy of a first-round exit, but it shows in their legs this season. They're re-energized and poised for another long run. And perhaps a Cup at the end of it for the fourth time in eight years.
Joe McDonald: I would like to say the Pittsburgh Penguins will be the first team since the 1997 Detroit Red Wings to win back-to-back championships, but without star defenseman Kris Letang, who's done for the season because of neck surgery, I can't see the reigning Stanley Cup champions defending their title. So I'm going with the Columbus Blue Jackets to win it all. Despite a recent six-game losing skid before the Blue Jackets defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in game No. 82, Columbus has the potential for a deep run simply because of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.