The NHL kicked off this week with a big surprise already. On the night that Los Angeles raised their 2013 – 2014 NHL Stanley Cup banner, San Jose beat L.A. 4 to 0. Already with a humbling experience for the defending champions, does L.A. have what it takes to repeat and bring home the Stanley Cup again?
— NHL (@NHL) October 9, 2014
The Western Conference is absolutely loaded again this season. Only two teams from the East figure to challenge for the right to play against the best from the West this season, Pittsburgh and Boston, but we’ll throw a couple of long shots in the mix for our readers.
The Top 4 in the West are all legitimate contenders for the Cup this season. Let’s get right to it!
Best Bets To Win the 2014-15 Stanley Cup
- Boston Bruins +800 – Boston won its home opener 2 to 1 versus the Philadelphia Flyers on opening night. They lost a 7-game heartbreaker last season against their biggest rivals, the Montreal Canadians, and they have lost a couple of key pieces for this season in Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk, but they can still win the Cup. The defense is anchored by the fantastic Zdeno Chara and Vezina trophy winner Tuuka Rask is still in goal. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will have to carry the scoring load.
- New York Rangers +1800 – The Rangers season ended with a 1 to 4 loss in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Los Angeles Kings. They played well in the Finals, though, pushing the Kings to overtime in three of the losses. Henrik Lundqvist is a future hall-of-famer and they’ve got a great guy on the wing in Rick Nash. Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard will help the Rangers score while Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal will keep pucks away from Lundqvist. This team is formidable.
- Pittsburgh Penguins +1000 – The Penguins have a new offensive theory, puck possession. That could bode well for Sidney Crosby, still the most talented player in NHL, and the other skill guys: Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. The goalie is terrific, Marc-Andre Fleury, but too often he was put into precarious positions due to the Penguins aggressive goal scoring nature. If the puck possession idea works, then Pittsburgh could contend in the East.
- Tampa Bay Lightning +1400 – It’s tough not to put Montreal on the list, but the Canadians swept Tampa Bay last season when Tampa was without star goalie Ben Bishop. With the 6’ 7”, 27-year-old Bishop in goal, who knows how that series would have ended? Steven Stamkos is only 24-years-old, but has the ability, should he not get injured again, to win an MVP. Tampa Bay could really sneak up on some teams this season.
- Chicago Blackhawks +700 – The Blackhawks have won 2 Stanley Cups in the past 5 seasons. That’s impressive. Not only that, but they return the same core group of guys that led to a scintillating Western Conference Finals last season this season. They’re tied with the Kings in the sports books to win the Cup. Can anybody argue with that logic? Jonathan Towes in center and Patrick Kane on the right will make sure that the ‘Hawks get back into the Western Conference Finals. From there, it all depends on how the puck lands. A few lucky bounces from the puck against the Kings last season and Chicago would have taken the series.
- Los Angeles Kings +700 – The Kings are an overlay, their odds are lower than they should be, to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions this season. Don’t get me wrong, this team is absolutely fantastic. It plays defense as well as any team in NHL, Patrick Quick in goal is as good as any goalie in the league, and the defense lost only one regular in Willie Mitchell. But no team has repeated as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998.
- San Jose Sharks +1300 – The Sharks started out the season on a high note when thumping Los Angeles 4 to 0. Yes, it was the first game of the regular season, but the Sharks made a terrific statement. San Jose had a 3 to 0 lead in the first round of their series against the Kings last season only to lose 4 in a row. The team has what it takes to win the West and center Tommy Wingels already has 2 goals after only the first game.
- Anaheim Ducks +1000 – After pushing the Kings to 7 games in the second round last season, the Ducks have every right to expect to be one of the top squads in the entire league this season. The key for Anaheim was to secure someone that could open things up for Ryan Getzlaf on the offensive end. They did so when they acquired Ryan Kesler. Anaheim is yet another power house team in the Western Conference that could win the Stanley Cup in the 2014 – 2015 NHL Season.