The excitement of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is here, four rounds of exhaustive effort for two teams, with the other 14 clubs having done their best and wondering what might have been.
If you are pondering who will win, the NHL odds give us insight at least from the oddsmakers perspective who could do so. We trotted over to A+ rated Bookmaker to see who were the favorites and long shots for NHL picks and was surprised frankly by some of the odds we saw, which we will now get into.
Forecasting The True Favorites
With Captain Obvious running and probably not spending a great deal of time on his computer other than looking up hotel room rates, even he knows the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL and decided favorites at +397. Washington has the full package being No.2 in both scoring and goals allowed and in the Top 5 in both special teams categories. Realistically, the only aspect they need to overcome is themselves, having a number of postseason flameouts.
Having looked at these odds a month ago, a little stunned by the changes. At Bookmaker, Chicago has moved into second spot overall at +700. There is no questioning the pedigree of the Blackhawks with three titles in six years and still not that old. Nonetheless, anyone regularly betting hockey knows they have much less depth then the past and are scrambling to find competent defensemen even now. Strong winning leadership, but sure seems like rotten wager.
Next is Pittsburgh and Dallas, at +770 and +803 respectively. The Penguins enter the playoffs as the hottest team, winners of 14 of 16 and one of the losses was the last game of the season resting several key players. If there is a squad that looks like it could knock off Washington, Pittsburgh is the obvious choice, ranking third in scoring and sixth is goals surrendered. There power play is a little weaker than the Caps, but close in all other aspects. If they collide, the winner should play for the Cup.
Dallas has been supplanted as the favorite in the West from 30 days ago. I would have agreed with this a month ago because the Stars defense was dreadful for Stanley Cup contender, but coach Lindy Ruff challenged his troops to be better. While Dallas still has the poorest defense coming into the postseason in terms of goals allowed, they did improve from 22nd to 19th late in the season.
Rounding out the best teams are Anaheim (+847), Los Angeles (+902) and St. Louis (+909). The Kings are the best of this group and have raised two Cups in the past four years and whose still physical style can wear opponents down facing them game after game. The biggest questions about the Ducks and Blues is can they win four straight series, when they usually disappear after one or two?
Long Shot Possibilities
If you play the ponies and like to play long shots, here are a couple to consider. Before I give you those, here are two not to consider. The New York Rangers (+1381) and Tampa Bay (+1843) are limping in, struggling with injuries to key personnel. Without all hands on deck and ready to go, do they realistically have a chance to beat either the Capitals or Penguins to play for the hardware? Nope.
For something more interesting, think about Florida at +1411 on the NHL odds. The way the format is setup, they faced an injured New Islanders crew and presuming they win that series, they catch the Tampa Bay or Detroit, who they should beat and would likely take on Washington or Pittsburgh in the East Finals after facing each other and they might take them as seriously after such a big series. Not saying this will occur, but stranger things have happened.
Lastly is San Jose at +1995. The Sharks with better teams have not reached The Finals and they lack a proven goaltender. However, sometimes everything falls into place. San Jose has extremely motivation against Los Angeles, they can outscore Anaheim and if they were to meet Dallas in West Finals, they are better defensively, can score with the Stars and had the best road record in the NHL at 28-13 SU.
Stanley Cup Winner Futures Odds