The science of cloning sheep is controversial at best. Sheep you ask? Deep in thought I was wondering how would you go about cloning an NHL Stanley Cup champion? The acknowledged method is to copy the last couple of cup champions. Like most professional sports league it is a copycat league. The Blackhawks and Penguins laid out the foundation of a smaller faster-type team would be the method on how to win the holy grail and they did. The LA Kings of the past were big, tough and grinding and this method also won. The Washington Capitals of last year were a combination of both and in 2018 they were drinking out of Lord Stanley’s cup (a little too much this past summer in our view).
Nonetheless we can try to analyze the Hockey News’ 2019 pick to win the Stanley Cup. Along with DNA, a little luck will go a long way…
Here is a list of the signs of a Stanley Cup Champion and how the Winnipeg Jets meet that DNA criteria without any controversial cloning:
President’s Trophy – first off play the odds and don’t win the President’s Trophy:
- This won’t be a problem. Check.
Get on a Roll just before the playoffs.
With the exception of 2015 Blackhawks, all the others champions came into the playoffs winning. The Jets are on a currently 5-2-0 in their last 7 games:
- 2018 Caps 9-3-0
- 2017 Penguins 6-4-2
- 2016 Penguins 10-2-0
- 2015 Hawks 5-7-0
- 2014 Kings 7-3-2
- 2013 Hawks 9-2-1
- 2012 Kings 7-5-0
- 2011 Bruins 7-4-1
- 2010 Hawks 7-3-2
- 2009 Penguins 9-3-0
Goaltending has to be really good in the playoffs:
- Prior to the Dallas Stars game where he was left to fend for himself, Connor Hellebuyck won his last 4 starts, allowing a total of 4 goals, recording 2 shutouts with an average save % of .972. This would be Marc-Andre Fleury playoff-like numbers.
When the experts don’t pick you to win this is when you finally win:
- The last thing you want to be in the NHL playoffs is the favourite. You can pretty much count on, if most reporters pick you to win, it isn’t happening. You can call the NHL a lot of things but predictable isn’t one of them. The Jets being pre-season favourites are currently far from it. Maybe this is a good thing.
You usually face some adversity in the playoffs:
- Like the Caps last year, we wrote a column on why the Vegas Golden Nights prior to the final would not beat the Caps. Why you say? Because the Blue Jackets should have knocked out the Caps in the first round. The Blue Jackets were up 2-0 and tied in overtime in game 3 only for the Caps to come back and not only win the series but eventually the Stanley Cup. Vegas pretty much had an easy time the whole way. This is a strange one but it seems to happen every year. No team can coast to a Stanley Cup. Look at the old dominate Oilers teams that always seemed to be down 3-1 to some team (Jets one year) only to come back and take the cup.
Somebody in the bottom 6 come up big and it’s totally unexpected:
- In 2018 the Washington Capitals had Lars Eller and Devante Smith-Pelly tied for 4thon the team with 7 goals in the playoffs. DSP had 7 goals all season. Eller & Pelly came up with some bigtime key goals when the team needed it most.
- In 2017 Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel lead the team in playoff goals with 13.
- In 2016 Phil Kessel dominated for the Penguins (but he isn’t considered bottom 6), but Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin had 18 & 16 points in 24 games.
- Do I even mention Dustin Byfuglien’s 11 goals in the 2010 playoffs for the eventual champion Blackhawks? You get the point.
- Coaching decisions are key in the playoffs. We have written before no one has the pulse of this team better than coach Maurice but he will need to pull the trigger and not second guess before it’s too late. In last year’s series against Vegas, we know he ran into a red hot goalie but he needed to make adjustments to try to change the outcome that looked inevitable early on. He waited until game 5 to insert a few players but we think he needed to do something earlier to change the course of that series.
Need to lose before you win:
- They did lose last year in the conference final to the above mentioned Vegas Golden Knights. This seems to happen to every eventual champion. The only question is, have they done enough losing? See the Washington Capitals of last year. After years of being the favourite and losing, their time finally came.
- In playoff hockey, goals are hard to come by but more importantly they seem to be major momentum changers. Tight games mean the teams that executes is usually the team that wins. Statistically the Jet’s powerplay has been good but we think that this will be a big factor (more than normal) in order for the Jets to go all the way.
Best players need to be your best players:
- Goaltending is a separate category because it is the most important position in hockey. Like Mark Scheifele last year who tore up the playoffs with goals will need some help. Patrik Laine needs to be a difference maker. They can not win without him scoring. The other obvious player is a healthy Dustin Byfuglien. Center ice depth is what every team needs in order to win. Scheifele, Hayes, Lowry & Copp (at the moment) need to dominate play in order to win.
For the record, we hate the idea of cloning though scientifically it is very interesting and scary all at the same time. This will be the Winnipeg Jets third and best shot since coming back to the NHL to drink their faces off in an Ovechkin type manner. Coming up with the DNA of past champions in order to win the most coveted prize in hockey would be beneficial. But then again, winning a Stanley Cup is no exact science.