The Stanley Cup is not only the best-looking championship in all of professional sports, it's also the hardest to win. Sure, football players have to go through the grind of an arguably more physical sport, and basketball players have to win the same amount of playoff games (16), but the NHL playoffs is also a physical grind in which players battle through injuries on a daily basis to reach their ultimate goal. Look no further than Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, who, years ago, played through the Stanley Cup Finals with a broken rib, torn cartilage, and a separated shoulder. In the NBA, a player would miss the Finals with a twisted ankle or a stomach flu.
Consider these things when drafting your fantasy team. You want physicality and toughness, but don't go overboard; you need high-end skill on offense and defense to win the Stanley Cup. There's a reason the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins have won a combined six Stanley Cups in the past decade. However, picking your top line is relatively easy; it's the bottom-six forwards and third-pairing defense group that could make or break your team's chances at winning the Stanley Cup. Do you have what it takes to put together a championship team?
1Who would be your starting goaltender?
The old saying goes that defense wins championships. That's true in all sports, but in hockey it's particularly important, especially in regard to the most important position on the ice - the goaltender. There's a number of top-notch goalies in the league, but having the right one can make the difference between your team being a contender and a pretender. Choose carefully.
2Who would be your backup goaltender?
While it might not matter who your backup goaltender is if your starter remains healthy, NHL goaltenders have been known to suffer injuries at the worst possible time. Your team might be rolling into the playoffs, but if you lose your starter in the first or second round, can you rely on your backup goaltender to pick up the pieces and carry your team to glory?