Electric Start Makes Lightning Cup Favorites

Lightning Kucherov

Kevin Stott

Monday, December 18, 2017 2:18 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 2:18 PM UTC

The futures book numbers reflect the Tampa Bay Lightning's hot start, as do the odds on the impressive Vegas Golden Knights, who opened at 100/1 longshots to win the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season. Let's check the odds on those teams now and offer up some value picks on two hopefully reliable stalwarts.

Golden Knights, Lightning Heat Up Ice

Probably the two biggest stories of the NHL season have been the success of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights (21-9-2, 44 points) and the great starts by Nikita Kucherov (46 points) Steven Stamkos (43 points) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (24-6-2, 50 points).

Led by Jonathan Marchessault (29 points) and William Karlsson (26 points), Vegas has been fabulous at home with a 13-2-1 record at T-Mobile Arena through Sunday. Those who backed the Golden Knights to go over their projected points total of 68½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) are looking wise, and those who backed the "yes" on the team making the playoffs are looking wiser. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay began this week with an NHL-high +43 goal difference, a seven-game winning streak and a nine-point lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division.

The best trends to back have been to fade those lovable Arizona Coyotes ( 3-10-1 at home and a money-torching 4-13-4 on the road); bet New York Islanders games to go over the total (22-10-1); bet San Jose Sharks games to go under (21-8-1); and simply bet on goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (21-4-1, 2.11 GAA) and the Lightning anywhere they play (13-2-1 home, 11-4-1 away). Tampa Bay plays at Vegas on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

The Lightning will host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game on January 28. The game again will use a 3-on-3 format and incorporate the league’s four divisions made up of two (likely) high-scoring, 10-minute halves. Other big upcoming events are two outdoor games: the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers play at Citi Field in Flushing, New York, in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day; and the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs meet in the Stadium Classic at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, on March 3.

Lightning Top Cup Odds Chart

Here are the latest odds, from online sportsbook Bovada, for the Stanley Cup and conference winners. Happy Hock-idays, puckheads.

Odds to win the Cup, as of Dec. 17 (Sept. 1 odds in parentheses):

Tampa Bay Lightning 6/1 (14/1)

Toronto Maple Leafs 10/1 (14/1)

Los Angeles Kings 12/1 (22/1)

Nashville Predators 12/1 (14/1)

St. Louis Blues 12/1 (28/1)

Vegas Golden Knights 12/1 (100/1)

Columbus Blue Jackets 14/1 (20/1)

Pittsburgh Penguins 16/1 (7/1)

Winnipeg Jets 16/1 (50/1)

Chicago Blackhawks 18/1 (12/1)

Anaheim Ducks 20/1 (14/1)

Washington Capitals 20/1 (14/1)

Dallas Stars 25/1 (12/1)

New Jersey Devils 25/1 (100/1)

Calgary Flames 28/1 (25/1)

Minnesota Wild 28/1 (18/1)

New York Islanders 28/1 (50/1)

New York Rangers 28/1 (18/1)

San Jose Sharks 28/1 (25/1)

Edmonton Oilers 33/1 (9/1)

Vancouver Canucks 40/1 (100/1)

Boston Bruins 40/1 (25/1)

Montreal Canadiens 50/1 (20/1)

Philadelphia Flyers 50/1 (50/1)

Carolina Hurricanes 66/1 (66/1)

Colorado Avalanche 75/1 (100/1)

Detroit Red Wings 100/1 (100/1)

Ottawa Senators 100/1 (40/1)

Florida Panthers 100/1 (40/1)

Buffalo Sabres 200/1 (66/1)

Arizona Coyotes OFF (100/1)

Odds to win the Eastern Conference, as of Dec. 17:

Tampa Bay Lightning +300

Toronto Maple Leafs +400

Columbus Blue Jackets +650

Pittsburgh Penguins +700

Washington Capitals +900

New Jersey Devils +1100

New York Islanders +1400

New York Rangers +1400

Boston Bruins +2200

Montreal Canadiens +2200

Philadelphia Flyers +2800

Carolina Hurricanes +3300

Ottawa Senators +3300

Detroit Red Wings +4000

Florida Panthers +5000

Buffalo Sabres +20000

Odds to win the Western Conference, as of Dec. 17:

Nashville Predators +575

St. Louis Blues +575

Los Angeles Kings +650

Winnipeg Jets +700

Vegas Golden Knights +750

Chicago Blackhawks +900

Anaheim Ducks +1100

Dallas Stars +1200

Calgary Flames +1400

Edmonton Oilers +1600

Minnesota Wild +1600

San José Sharks +1600

Vancouver Canucks +1800

Colorado Avalanche +4000

Arizona Coyotes OFF

Free NHL Eastern Pick: Penguins 7/1Free NHL Western Pick: Blackhawks 9/1Best Lines Offered: Bovada
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