The Edmonton Oilers began this season by opening their new home, Rogers Place. They will end it with Connor McDavid hoisting the Stanley Cup.
McDavid, the Oilers 20-year-old captain and contender for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, is the biggest reason why the Stanley Cup will return to Edmonton for the first time since 1990.
McDavid's 100 points (30 goals, League-leading 70 assists) are a result of his consistency from the start of the season; he has not gone more than two games in a row without a point.
He also puts the fear factor into opponents, who have had difficulty dealing with his blazing speed and quick hands. That will continue in the postseason.
But the Oilers are not a one-man show, which will become apparent in their march to the Stanley Cup.
Goaltender Cam Talbot started the most games in the League this season (73) and is battle-tested for the long Cup run.
Actually, the whole team is. The Oilers have handled demanding sections of road-heavy scheduling and thrived over the final six weeks of the regular season, challenging for Pacific Division title. They are mentally tough and ready.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade for the Oilers this season is their defense.
The acquisition of Larsson in a trade with the New Jersey Devils for forward Taylor Hall and the signing of Russell as a free agent have helped the Oilers move from a goals-for, goals-allowed differential of minus-43 last season to plus-32 this season.
Of course, every teams needs role players to step up in the postseason and if the regular season is any indication, that's what will happen.
The Oilers, with an average age of 27.1 years, are the youngest playoff team in the Western Conference, but have leadership and playoff experience in forward Milan Lucic, who has played 101 postseason games, including winning the Stanley Cup with Boston Bruins in 2011.
The Oilers came within a game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2006. This time, with McDavid, Talbot and talented players up and down the lineup, they will not fall short.
Entertainment Plaza - TV, Movies, Sports, Music, Soaps
Babe Of The Month - Vote Now!
Hunk Of The Month - Vote Now!