So you’ve laid your action on the Stanley Cup futures before the playoffs started. You figured that either the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks or the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins would be the best choices. Well, not so fast. We’re in the middle of the second round of the playoffs and this thing looks far more wide open than you might think. Here’s an updated look on everyone’s chances:
Even though the NHL odds are in their favor, Pen's fans are probably a bit nervous. They’re using backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun these days and nobody is really sure if that can work in the long run. On top of that, the Pens struggled with the New York Islanders in Round 1 and are now getting tested by the Ottawa Senators. How are they going to fare against better teams like Chicago or Boston? Clearly, this All-Star cast still has some holes.
The Presidents’ Trophy curse could be in full effect. Who figured the Blackhawks would be struggling with the Detroit Red Wings, a team they topped four straight times in the regular season? The Red Wings barely got by the Anaheim Ducks.
The Blackhawks are looking a little frail between the pipes with Corey Crawford. He’s been unable to save them so far. People making their NHL picks were wondering if he’s the team’s Achilles and he’ll have to prove the skeptics wrong.
Los Angeles Kings
Could they be a dark horse? The Kings look like they are in good shape, laying in the cut just waiting for the right moment. Nobody gave them much of a chance at the beginning of the playoffs but if Chicago’s taken out, who better to represent the West? Jonathan Quick is playing out of his mind – once again. If the offense does just enough, this team will be hard to stop.
Some NHL odds makers read the Bruins their last rites but maybe this squad has been underestimated. Yes, they nearly tapped out against Toronto but now they’re in the driver’s seat in Round 2 up two games on the New York Rangers. Imagine if Pittsburgh falls short to Ottawa, who better to win the East than Boston? Even if Pittsburgh advances, Boston will be their toughest test yet and considering they are struggling with the Islanders and the Senators, Boston might just be good enough to advance any way.
Detroit Red Wings
What do we make of the Red Wings? At times this season, they’ve been dominant. Other times, they haven’t even looked like a playoff team. However, they do seem to be peaking right now.
People were skeptical of the Kings last season every round even though they slayed one dragon after another. If the Red Wings can oust the West’s No. 1 seed after ousting the No. 2, they would have to be viewed as legit Cup contenders.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks cruised past Vancouver in Round 1 but now have their hands full with the Kings. It’s hard to see this team going far because goal scoring seems to be an issue. Also, this team just doesn’t have the pedigree as they’re known choke artists. They would need a miracle to win the Cup.
New York Rangers
The Rangers just don’t look like they are long for the playoffs. Henrik Lundqvist’s shoulder is banged up, they can’t win on the road (which is quite problematic since it’s very unlikely they have home-ice advantage at any point) and they can’t score. Stranger things have happened but I don’t see this team as a Cup contender.
Odds: +2300Ottawa is a bit underrated but it’s hard to see them winning the Cup. Yes, Craig Anderson can carry them a long way – including past the Penguins – but this team just doesn’t score enough. Also, their players don’t look like they are all on the same page. They are getting healthy but players coming back and players who filled in have to work together and everyone is still figuring out their roles. This is a young team that is growing but putting it all together this year seems unlikely.