Now’s a good a time as any to discern which teams have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. In lieu of the All-Star game this year, the Winter Olympics are taking over so there’ll be an upcoming two-week break in the NHL schedule. Here are the top-5 teams and a few longshots to throw some spare change towards.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (+550)
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin once again lead the fray in the Eastern Conference. Very few people know that much about hockey, and Pittsburgh remains the biggest public team out there despite the fact that they haven’t come close to winning a Stanley Cup in three seasons. They were swept in last year’s conference finals thanks to a goalie implosion by resident starter Marc-Andre Fleury. They might have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup, but they might not be the “best team to bet on” if you catch my draft. Especially since…
2. Chicago Blackhawks (+700)
…the defending champions have a much better return. Chicago has won two of the last four Stanley Cups. The deep-as-all-hell Blackhawks boast the best offence in the league and have a solid defense that protects Corey Crawford well. As long as they get past the quarter-finals, they’re usually a shoe-in for a deep run. This team simply knows how to win in the playoffs and that’s half the battle especially when you have such a wide variety of weapons to rely on.
3. Anaheim Ducks (+725)
I love the regular season Ducks but I’m nervous about how well this squad performs in the post season. Anaheim currently leads the entire league with 85 points and they’ve performed very well despite having a huge target on their backs. The problem with Anaheim is that they’re very much a two-line team; they simply don’t have the depth that other teams do. That being said they’re very balanced but they’re also a brutal 1-4 in their last five playoff series. It could be “their year” but we also said that about Peyton Manning. I’d wait and see here.
4. St. Louis Blues (+750)
If you ask general sports fans which teams have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup, I’d bet you that none would say the St. Louis Blues. Yet here they are. The Blues are all about balance. They averaged 3.3 goals per game (2nd) and 2.3 goals against (3rd) and do all this with an almost random collection of castaway talented, including netminder Jaroslav Halak. The oddsmakers have had the Blues in the running since the season started, so they haven’t snuck up on anyone, and they continue to reward their faithful backers despite the odds. Defensive teams usually perform extremely well in the post season. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but St. Louis is just as strong of a bet to represent the western conference as the other two teams listed above.
5. Boston Bruins (+825)
When I write “teams that are build for the playoffs” I’m talking specifically about Boston. They know how to ride a hot streak. They’re physical, fast and resilient. Sometimes the playoffs come down more so to intangibles than tangibles and if we know anything about Boston it’s that they always find a way to survive. As is usually the case, I’m not totally sold on Boston as a long term investment but they’ve consistently proven me wrong.
I mean, you could talk me in to the Toronto Maple Leafs at +3000 ending a billion year championship drought or the Tampa Bay Lightning surging through the east at +1600. As always I like Detroit with +3300 odds simply because they have the best coach in the NHL. Grading which teams have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup is relative so you have to find a team that fits your personality, whether that’s chasing long odds or holding on to one of the favorites. Either way, now is the time to dive in to this market.