Here are the eight teams with the best chances to win the Stanley Cup, according to SI's Pierre McGuire.
1 RED WINGS
A talented and deep offense, one of the top goalies ( Dominik Hasek) and the best coach ( Scotty Bowman) of all time make them the team to beat. What could derail Detroit? Lack of depth on the blue line or old legs that could tire.
With goalie Patrick Roy not playing in the Olympics and center Peter Forsberg likely to return after the Games (he has missed all season recovering from various injuries), two key players should be fresh come the postseason. Improved special teams make Colorado a threat to repeat as champion.
Aggressive forechecking should wear down opponents in a long series. Scoring forwards Simon Gagne, John LeClair, Mark Recchi and Jeremy Roenick make Philly difficult to match up against. One concern is the unproven goaltending of Brian Boucher and Roman Cechmanek.
A physical team built for a long playoff run. Their penalty killing is the most consistent in the league, and the grinding line of Mike Ricci, Niklas Sundstrom and Scott Thornton is tough to play against. Teemu Selanne and Vincent Damphousse, two scoring forwards, must be effective.
The offensive forwards, led by Joe Thornton, are superb. Goaltender Byron Dafoe, who has been sharp all season, must be on top of his game, because the team is not consistent defensively.
6 MAPLE LEAFS
Center Mats Sundin has been outstanding after last season's terrific playoff performance. Curtis Joseph, the probable No. 1 goalie for the Canadian Olympic team, is among the NHL's best. Toronto needs to add a top defensive defenseman who is also a physical force.
In his second season, Craig MacTavish has become one of the league's best coaches. Few teams are faster, and none crash the net as well as Edmonton, which has the most underrated defense in the NHL. The big question is, can No. 1 center Mike Comrie, who's only 5'9" and 170 pounds, hold up under postseason pounding?
Balanced scoring and a team-oriented system make them a threat. A fourth straight early playoff exit should be averted because of the addition of gritty players like 6'9", 250-pound defenseman Zdeno Chara. But the team must be ready to play a more grinding style.