The Western Conference is supposed to be one that’s loaded with Stanley Cup contenders, but the NHL odds are up in the air in the normally-loaded West. Here’s our power ranking as of right now:
1. Nashville Predators
NHL Odds To Win Western Conference: +400
Anaheim? Nope. Chicago? Definitely not. Los Angeles? Uh-uh. Yes, it’s the Predators who are the team to beat in the Western Conference right now. That’s because they hold down the top spot and should get home-ice advantage in the playoffs, which should mean a lot for a team that’s a league-best 26-5-1 at home this season.
The other key factor here is that the Predators have the best goaltender in the conference. While the Ducks, Blues, Blackhawks and others scuffle to between the pipes, the Preds have Pekka Rinne, who is second in goals-against average and in save percentage. He’s the main reason they are the team to beat right now.
2. St. Louis Blues
NHL Odds To Win Western Conference: +550
With the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks faltering, the St. Louis Blues might be the best team to take advantage. Sure, Nashville has their plusses but they are relatively short on playoff experience. The Blues are a team that has far more than this version of the Predators.
In previous seasons, goal scoring was the Blues’ Achilles heel that held them back but they are currently fifth in that category. If they keep it up in the playoffs, they’ll be a team to be reckoned with. Keep that in mind when preparing your NHL picks.
3. Chicago Blackhawks
NHL Odds To Win Western Conference: +350
Even though the Blackhawks are struggling mightily right now, they still have to be included on this list. The bottom line is if they play their best, nobody is going to beat them. The challenge is that they have been far from their best since Christmas. The Blackhawks started the season 25-10-2 but are just 12-11-3 since. They’re also without leading scorer Patrick Kane for about 11-12 weeks and they haven’t been getting any reliable goaltending this season. Even with that in mind, this team is so loaded that if they start to play to their potential, they’ll be the team to beat. They still only give up 2.33 goals per game, which is the third-best number in the NHL. One has to assume their offense will start to show up at some point.
4. Los Angeles Kings
NHL Odds To Win Western Conference: +500 from Bovada
The Kings have snuck into the playoffs before and made runs without home-ice advantage, so we have to respect what this team is capable of. And we saw just that as they won eight straight games. However, this is a team that’s also been wildly inconsistent this season as we’ve seen in the three subsequent losses that have followed that hot streak.
While the Kings come in fourth in the Western Conference power rankings because they are the champs and because we have to respect their potential, something doesn’t quite look right with them. Goaltender Jonathan Quick has a 2.35 GAA and .915 save percentage, and he’s only 7-15 on the road. Those numbers will all have to improve if the Kings make the playoffs.