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Why Pittsburgh will win the Cup

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Why Pittsburgh will win the Cup
To fully comprehend why Pittsburgh can win the Stanley Cup, go down the list of what a team needs to win a championship and count how many check marks are next to the Penguins name.

The animosity aimed at the Pittsburgh Penguins has been quite clear as of late. They are not very well-liked.

However, the fear the rest of the NHL has when it plays the Penguins is also quite clear. They are one of the deepest and most talented teams in the League, a team with the tools to win the Stanley Cup for the second time since 2009.

The Big Why: To fully comprehend why Pittsburgh can win the Stanley Cup, go down the list of what a team needs to win a championship and count how many check marks are next to the Penguins name.

Depth. Check.

Goaltending. Check.

Defense. Check.

Star power. Check.

Solid special teams. Check.

Experience. Check.

Health. Check.

Hunger to win. Check

Did we miss anything?

The Penguins have center depth that is unmatched by any other team in the NHL. For example, Sidney Crosby, arguably the best hockey player in the world, is playing on the second line behind

Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 49 | ASST: 58 | PTS: 107
SOG: 337 | +/-: 16
Evgeni Malkin, who was THE best hockey player in the world this season. Jordan Staal, probably a No. 1 center on at least half of the teams in the League, is a third-liner here.

James Neal is a 40-goal scorer for the first time in his career. He never scored 30 before this season. Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cooke all had career years. Steve Sullivan has been a solid veteran addition and seems to fit well on a line with Dupuis and Crosby. Tyler Kennedy has a presence with his grit and nose for the net.

Kris Letang would have been a Norris Trophy candidate if not for his injury problems. He might be the Penguins most important skater. Brooks Orpik is one of the most feared hitters in the League, a true stay-at-home defenseman and a rock in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He's an anchor for Pittsburgh's standout penalty kill along with Zbynek Michalek.

Fleury is the true anchor of this team. He has had the best season of his career.

The Big Uh-Oh: Pittsburgh's road to the Stanley Cup Final could be brutally tough.

It starts with what should be an adventurous (to say the least) first-round series against the Flyers. If the Penguins survive (a big if, considering Philadelphia is also a real Cup contender), they could potentially face the defending Boston Bruins or New York Rangers in the second round. Pittsburgh wouldn't have home-ice advantage in either of those series.

Depending on how the first-round matchups play out, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Penguins have to go through all three of Philadelphia, Boston and New York just to get to the Stanley Cup Final. They're deep and talented, but do they have enough to run that gauntlet?

The Final Argument: Yes, the Penguins do have enough, but they have to stay healthy and they can't get all wrapped up in the sideshows that will inevitably start in the first round. They're smart enough to keep the focus on themselves, because it will help them in their Cup quest.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season