2014 Stanley Cup Odds: Which Teams Have The Best Chance To Win?

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The 2014 NHL playoffs are upon us, which is a true statement and also the surest indicator that spring has arrived. (Because The Masters, while idyllic, has too few hip checks and slap shots to truly announce the arrival of the warm months ahead.)

Like any other rational person living on the east coast, I’m currently devising ways to watch every single postseason game in real time and planning out a playoff sleep schedule involving plenty of Western Conference hockey and little to no sleep.

By now you’ve already filled out your bracket and convinced yourself you’ve crafted the perfect mix of scenarios that leads to you winning your NHL.com pool. And if you haven’t done that yet, WELL HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU. Join me and the rest of the Islanders Insight staff—along with tens of our closest friends and/or Internet stalkers—in our league here.

Aside from filling out a bracket and preparing to binge-watch hockey the way White Goodman binged on fried chicken after losing the ADAA Las Vegas Dodgeball Tournament championship game, NHL fans usually check the betting board to see which teams are favored to win the Cup.

Which is exactly why you’re here.

So whether you’re planning on laying down some cash to back the odds-on favorite or a token long shot this year, here’s a quick primer on the 2014 Stanley Cup odds for all 16 teams…

(Odds according to Bovada.com as of Apr. 14, 2014)

 

The Favorites…

Boston Bruins 7/2 (No. 1 – Atlantic)

The President’s Trophy winners are the clear-cut favorites this year, and with good reason. The Eastern Conference bracket isn’t nearly as treacherous as the West; 117 points means that Boston knows how to play hockey; and guys like Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Tuukka Rask have the skill and experience to lead a deep playoff run. The only thing that might prevent a third Bruins trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 2011 is a sneaky-good Detroit Red Wings team in the first round.

 

St. Louis Blues 6/1 (No. 2 – Central)

The Blues used to be the Cup favorites, until a 2-7-0 stretch in their final nine games—including a five-game losing streak to close out the regular season—bumped them further down the board. But, St. Louis still has Ryan Miller in net, David Backes up front, Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, and a shutdown defensive scheme, so things could be worse. A first-round matchup with the third-seeded Chicago Blackhawks isn’t the best recipe for an extended postseason appearance, though.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins 7/1 (No. 1 – Metropolitan)

The only other Eastern Conference team listed with respectable odds, the Metropolitan Division champions are just as capable of winning the cup as any of the other favorites. Sidney Crosby won the league’s regular-season scoring title with 104 points, 17 points more than his closest competitor. With a close-to-consensus NHL MVP on the roster, Pittsburgh should win their first series against the Columbus Blue Jackets easily. A potential second-round tilt with the Philadelphia Flyers would provide some fireworks.

 

Chicago Blackhawks 8/1 (No. 3 – Central)

The reigning Stanley Cup champions round out the group of oddsmaker favorites this year, and the Blackhawks are as dangerous this season as they were during their Cup run last June. Although injuries to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews forced them to miss the last few games of the regular season, both are expected to be back in the lineup for Game 1 of their series against the St. Louis Blues. Patrick Sharp lead Hawks in points (78) and goals (34) during the season, so it’s not like Chicago was floundering offensively without their two star players. Still, Blackhawks backers will be happy to see no. 88 and no. 19 on the ice.

 

 

The Dark Horses…

Anaheim Ducks 9/1 (No. 1 – Pacific)

The Ducks spent much of the season alternately dominating their opponents and participating in Teemu Selanne farewell ceremonies, which: hey, whatever works. Anaheim is one of the NHL’s most formidable teams at all three levels: offense, defense, and in goal, making them a valuable play at 9-to-1 odds. A top line featuring Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry is enough to scare opposing defenses—two of the NHL’s top five scorers—and solid goaltending from any combination of Frederik Andersen, John Gibson, and Jonas Hiller means goals against the Ducks will be at a premium. If Anaheim were in the Eastern Conference, they’d probably be the overall favorites.

 

San Jose Sharks 9/1 (No. 2 – Pacific)

A loaded Western Conference offers up the Sharks at 9-to-1, a price which would be much lower had they not drawn the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. San Jose boasts a 40-plus goal scorer in Joe Pavelski (41) and the league’s only player not named Sidney Crosby with 65-or-more assists in Joe Thornton. Oh, and Finnish Olympian Antti Niemi is a decent goaltender, or whatever (39 wins, .913 SV%, 2.39 GAA this season). If they can get past the Kings, a Stanley Cup Finals berth wouldn’t be unlikely for the Sharks. What I’m saying is: it’d be possible. Like, definitely maybe. So.

 

Los Angeles Kings 10/1 (No. 3 – Pacific)

The Kings are listed at 10-to-1, and they’d be listed at much shorter odds if they weren’t paired with the San Jose Sharks in their playoff opener. But, that’s what happens when two of the best teams in the league draw each other in the bracket and prevent the NHL-watching public from seeing this dream matchup in the Western Conference finals. The 2012 champs are still among the top teams in the league when it comes to the advanced metrics (corsi, fenwick, choke-the-life-out-of-you defense, etc.) and will be a tough out for any team they face this postseason.

 

Colorado Avalanche 14/1 (No. 1 – Central)

The fancy stats don’t exactly favor the Avalanche, but their 52-22-8 (112 pts) record during the regular season speaks for itself, and has earned them a favorable playoff matchup in the first round. Colorado will face the Minnesota Wild in the first postseason appearance for the Denver-based franchise since the 2009-10 season. Lead by Matt Duchene’s 70 points (23G, 47A), the Avs have the firepower to keep up with any team in the conference, and could be advancing to the second round before anyone else. That is, if they don’t look past the Wild entirely.

 

 

The Deep Sleepers…

Detroit Red Wings 20/1 (WC2 – Atlantic)

Detroit has made the playoffs in each of the last 23 seasons, a streak so impressive that it’s shocking how we take the Red Wings playing postseason hockey for granted. Then again, when a team is always in the playoffs, it can become second nature to assume a postseason berth is a given. Wings coach Mike Babcock has done well to return his team to the playoffs yet again, but beating the Eastern-Conference juggernaut Boston Bruins will be a tall task for his club in the first round. Still, there’s value in betting them at 20-to-1, especially if you believe Detroit’s season series record against Boston is an indication of their talent.

 

Montreal Canadiens 20/1 (No. 3 – Atlantic)

P.K. Subban is probably counting the money from his next contract already, but there’ still reason to believe the Canadiens can make some noise this postseason. They’re matched up with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round and despite not having home ice advantage, many of the taking heads are picking Montreal to win the series. Carey Price has hot-playoff-goalie potential and could end up being this postseason’s 2012 Jonathan Quick in net. Their 20-to-1 odds reflect a potential second-round matchup with the Boston Bruins, though.

 

New York Rangers 20/1 (No. 2 – Metropolitan)

The Rangers are an interesting pick at 20-to-1. They have a consensus top-three goalie in Henrik Lundqvist, three 50-point scorers on the roster, Rick Nash (I mean, he’s Rick Nash), and a veteran head coach in Alain Vigneault. Then why isn’t the no. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division higher up the board in terms of their Stanley Cup odds? Probably because out of all mid-board teams, the Rangers have the toughest road to the finals: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (likely), and Boston (likely). Yeah, maybe that’s why.

 

Philadelphia Flyers 20/1 (No. 3 – Metropolitan)

As Claude Giroux goes, so do the Flyers. The Flyers captain has recorded 64 points in his team’s wins, but only 22 points in losses (H/T @taxman19). Still, the Flyers match up well with their first-round opponent, the New York Rangers. It should be a physical, entertaining series between two teams located along the I-95 corridor, and will likely come down to how well the Rangers can contain Giroux. If the Flyers advance, a matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins likely awaits them. If you’re NHL commissioner Gary Bettman—or, you know, a person with a pulse—that’s exactly what you want to see.

 

 

The Long Shots…

Tampa Bay Lightning 25/1 (No. 2 – Atlantic)

The Lightning are without star goaltender Ben Bishop for at least the first game of their series with the Montreal Canadiens. Bishop’s injury may have affected his team’s Stanley Cup odds, as backers are less likely to bet on Tampa Bay if they’re forced to play an extended stretch of games without one of the NHL’s best netminders. Still, the late-season return of sniper Steven Stamkos was enough to boost the Lightning’s offense, and they’ll need that scoring to keep pace if backup goalie Anders Lindback is pressed into action long-term.

 

Minnesota Wild 40/1 (WC1 – Central)

The Wild lived up to their name and earned a wild card entry into this year’s playoffs and OK I’m done with the cheesy NHL-themed puns now. Minnesota isn’t favored in its opening-round series with the Colorado Avalanche, nor would they be favored against any other team in the Western Conference, so it’s easy to understand why they’re 40-to-1 to lift the Cup. I’m not saying it’s impossible for the Wild to win it all, I’m just saying that when it’s unlikely that they’ll escape the first round, I don’t see them making it to the finals, let alone winning it. This is the “long shot” section for a reason.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets 50/1 (WC1 – Metropolitan)

Sergei Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, leads his team into the playoffs and will have to live up to his accolades if they’re going to have a shot against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bobrovsky will face Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and a host of other scorers in the first round, meaning he’ll have to be on his game early. The Jackets have the longest odds of any other playoff team except for the Dallas Stars, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about their postseason chances.

 

Dallas Stars 50/1 (WC2 – Central)

Rounding out the Stanley Cup odds board are the Dallas Stars, unlucky winners of the who-gets-to-face-top-seeded-Anaheim-in-the-first-round sweepstakes. Everyone loves an underdog, but at 50-to-1 your money might be better spent elsewhere. Like on food, rent, or kindling for a bonfire. They’re not the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings of the 2012 postseason, but it wouldn’t be impossible for the Stars to go on a Cup-winning run this year. Actually, after thinking about it…yes. Yes it would be impossible for them to do that. On the bright side, Dallas fans: the green in those jerseys is pretty nice.

 

 

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