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The Fischler Report: Picking the Western Winners; And a Surprise Breakout Prediction
In this week's TFR, The Maven makes predictions including his breakout team. Stan also touches on the Mike Babcock resignation, Zach Parise's future, the next two NHL arenas built & much more...
The news is good.
I've checked both the constitutions of Canada and the United States for an important discovery.
On either side of the border, there's no law about betting against Vegas to win another Stanley Cup. Not even a hint of one. Which is why The Maven says nix on Adin's Under The Hill Gang.
Now that my vanilla ice cream cone has melted, we can get to the business of evaluating a few compelling teams West of East St. Louis, Illinois. Trust me, these cowpokes of the West actually have a chance to keep the Cup away from the Maple Leafs or Rangers, my Eastern choices.
Any such evaluation of the West Siders has to -- and I do mean must -- start with King McDavid, his prince consort Leon (The Lion) Draisaitl, and other descendants of The Great Gretzky.
One could say that any team with that Dynamite Duet should be a Cup favorite, And one could agree with that since the Oilers have my favorite player-author-grit guy in the form of Zach Hyman. If coach Jay Woodcroft had one more Hyman, I'd give him The Mug. But, he doesn't.
It's an almost-fact of hockey life that once the Leafs lost Hyman to the frigid-est city in Alberta, Toronto never would win a Cup in this decade; maybe even this century of leap years.
But the "Earl-ers," as we would say in Brooklyn, have a half-ton more than royalty. They boast almost- Calder Trophy winner Stuie Skinner and some pretty darn good -- but mind you, not "very good" -- troopers in Evander Kane and Ry Nugent-Hopkins.
That said, I have to wonder about Edmonton's Cup capabilities, so I'll make it simple. They haven't sipped the Bubbly since Connor donned those Oil uniforms. It's up to McD and Prince Leon The Lion to show us that it can be done. Skinner is the big if, as in IF.
Edmonton's problem is like everyone else in the West -- the Avalanche. Let's face it, Colorado is only two years away from ruling the roost, and the Avs won't be playing chicken this term. Not with a healthy Cale Makar and Nate MacKinnon.
Now if you believe in Al Georgiev -- which I certainly do not -- then open The Gates To The Final to coach Jared Bednar's bunch.
Pete DeBoer's Stars are well-aligned because -- on any given night -- Jake Oettinger is the NHL's best goalie, give or take Ilya Sorokin. His best blocker, Miro Heiskanen, should have won the Norris this year, but don't get me going on that one.
As for Minnesota, I love their high command -- my buddy Bill Guerin and very competent Dean Evason. Plus, how can anyone not pull for Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy, who lead the firing squad?
Fil Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury are no slouches in the twine; plus, the addition of madcap Pat Maroon should keep Minny masterful, if not monstrous.
Ah, now for the Sleeper in the West. Or, put it this way, the Devils of last year…