Pittsburgh, though, probably has the best duo with the reigning NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin and the return of Sidney Crosby. Concussion-like symptoms limited Crosby to 22 games last season and 41 the previous regular season.
Crosby said he puts more pressure on himself than anyone else could to win the Stanley Cup again after he helped the Penguins beat Detroit in a Stanley Cup finals rematch four years ago.
"I have high expectations and our team has high expectations," he said. "I don't think that ever really changes."
Hopes changed in Chicago when the Blackhawks broke through and reinvigorated their fan base with a Stanley Cup run in 2010 — the franchise's first title since 1961 — only to dash them with consecutive first-round exits.
"After winning the Cup a couple of years ago, I think everyone was on top of the world," said Patrick Kane, who couldn't match the production he had during the championship season in the past two years.
"You realize that two other teams have done it. It's one of those things where you want to get it back, but it's a long road ahead. It's definitely a goal for the season to go as far as possible and win it."
And in Detroit, a Cup-or-best culture has been cultivated with four Stanley Cups since 1997 and a postseason streak that last lasted two-plus decades.
The Red Wings insist they're still a championship contender without Nicklas Lidstrom on the roster for the first time since the 1990-91 season.
The seven-time Norris Trophy winner retired last summer and turned down a chance to come back for the 48-game season.
Brad Stuart left another void on the blue line when he was traded to San Jose instead of leaving to sign with the Sharks in free agency.
Henrik Zetterberg, the new captain, still likes his team's chances with talented teammates such as Pavel Datsyuk up front, Niklas Kronwall on the back end and Jimmy Howard in net.
"We still have a good enough team to go all the way," Zetterberg said. "But to win the Cup, you have to make the playoffs. In the Western Conference, it's hard to look at all the good teams and say what teams aren't going to make it. The last few years, more and more contenders have been popping up and more and more teams believe in themselves."
AP Sports Writers Teresa Walker, Will Graves and Andrew Seligman contributed to this report.
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