The playoff picture looks relatively set as we hit the final stretch of games to end the regular season, and our oddsmakers have been hard at work with updated odds to win the Stanley Cup. Perhaps the most astonishing element of the playoffs is that the Montreal Canadiens are the only team from north of the border to make the post season. And quite honestly, they don’t have the strongest chance of surviving. Montreal’s +2500 updated odds to win the Stanley Cup are a mid-play at best…and not a very good one at that.
The Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs had cringe worthy meltdowns in the second half. Winnipeg and Calgary never really got in to the race and Vancouver completely caved in on itself after the Luongo trade that sent him back to Florida. The Oilers finished dead last in the west as well. It was a rough year for Canadians, but there are still plenty of actual Canadians left in the race for the cup so let’s not turn this whole thing in to a Canada vs. USA thing. This isn’t the Olympics.
The strongest bets in the Eastern Conference continue to be the Pittsburgh Penguins (+850) despite some struggles in the post season lately. They’re a talented team, one of the biggest public bets in the NHL and boast the league’s best player. Sure, they’ve had some issues in the playoffs with toughness and weird slumps but they’re always a good play, especially given their current updated odds to win the Stanley Cup. If they were outright favorites, I’d tell you to back off, but there’s some value here.
That all depends on how you feel about the Boston Bruins who have dominated the NHL lately and surged to front of the NHL futures board. The Bruins are +325 in updated odds to win the Stanley Cup, making them the outright favorite across the NHL. Boston is a physical, fast and talented team that has tasted victory in the playoffs time and again. There isn’t a lot of intrinsic value here but a long term investment is only as strong as its chances of coming true, and Boston has an insanely realistic chance of brining yet another championship to Bean Town. Freaking Bean Town!
Standing in their way will likely be one of three teams from the Western Conference. Let’s start with the Chicago Blackhawks, who are +650 to emerge to defend their Stanley Cup Championship. The Blackhawks wil likely enter as a fourth seed and battle the always-tough-but-never-good-enough San Jose Sharks who are as much of a stay-away play as ever. Joe Thornton and Mats Sundin probably have too much in common.
That leaves us with the St. Louis Blues at +500 and the Anaheim Ducks at +1000. As much as I love the Ducks, they aren’t as deep as their opposition in the Western Conference and it’s extremely difficult in this day and age to ride one or two lines to victory. They have the most attractive updated odds to win the Stanley Cup because they have the best overall defense in the league and a goal tender in Ryan Miller who has been dying to play behind a great squad. In St. Louis he has it, and that’s why I love the Blues as the take to win it all.
St. Louis has been sitting at 5-to-1 since the start of the season and no matter how many times the oddsmakers update the odds to the Stanley Cup, that’s where you’ll find them so just get in now and enjoy the best playoffs in any of the four majors.