- On the final night of the NHL season, the Nashville Predators clinched the Central Division
- Despite getting home-ice for the first two rounds, their average Stanley Cup odds are +1300
- The Winnipeg Jets and St Louis Blues entered the playoffs with average odds of +1200. Are any of them good bets?
Heading into the NHL Playoffs, the only thing oddsmakers seem to be in consensus over, is the Tampa Bay Lightning are awesome. Beyond that, the Stanley Cup odds are all over the place, particularly in the West. The conference-leading Calgary Flames are at the head of the pack, and following them is a jumble, particularly in the Central Division.
2019 Stanley Cup Odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+250|
|San Jose Sharks||+1400|
|St. Louis Blues||+1400|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+2000|
|New York Islanders||+2000|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+2000|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+3300|
*Odds taken on 04/07/19.
After looking lost for February and most of March, the Nashville Predators ended the season winning seven of their last 10 to just edge out the red-hot St. Louis Blues for tops in the division. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets were heinous down the stretch, coughing up the Central by losing six of the last nine.
So who is worth backing? The teams coming into the playoffs hot or the ones who were biding their time?
Hot Goalie Magic Always Runs Out
The Blues went from a last-place team to a seemingly tough playoff out in large part because of the emergence of Jordan Binnington. The 25-year-old rookie has been incredible in the second half of the season.
— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) April 6, 2019
However, there’s a reason why Binnington toiled away in the AHL for five seasons before this year and it will eventually show itself in the playoffs.
We see this all the time in the NHL: the hot goalie who comes out of nowhere to lift his hapless team to the playoffs. Unfortunately, those guys never go on to win the Conn Smythe, because they’re chased out of the net in the first round. It happened last year to Keith Kinkaid.
john hynes, Good Coach, played keith kinkaid over cory schneider in the playoffs? twice???
i think i know why y’all are down 2-0 pic.twitter.com/A7voFkx11C
— ? MacEwan ? (@FrostyBear21) April 16, 2018
It most famously happened to Andrew Hammond after the Ottawa Senators miraculously rallied to the playoffs in 2014-15. The Sens goalie was insane over the final two months of the season and still got chased after two playoff losses.
Andrew Hammond won 20 of 24 games with a 1.79 and .941 a few years back and got Ottawa in the playoffs… he is an AHL goalie now. Goalies get hot, I don’t think Binnington is a flash but I believe he was 4th on the depth chart when the season started, usually for a reason.
— Marty ₿yrde (@cryptomartyb) April 7, 2019
To win in the playoffs, you have to have reliable goaltending.
So What Goalies Can You Back?
Honestly, looking through the Western Conference, not many. The Predators are talented enough that they should already have won two Stanley Cups. But every year, Pekka Rinne craters in big spots.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 11, 2018
The Jets Connor Hellebuyck hasn’t had a great follow up to last year’s Vezina-caliber season either. Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks had the league’s worst team save percentage at a paltry .889%. And if you can honestly look at the Calgary Flames crease with any confidence, you are drunk.
What Teams Offer Value?
There are a pair of teams getting +2000 odds (or better) in some places that I could easily see winning the west. The first team did it a year ago. With Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny and Mark Stone joining the fold, the Vegas Golden Knights are a more talented group than they were a season ago, when Marc-Andre Fleury backstopped them to the Stanley Cup finals.
As for a real nice longshot, look no further than the Dallas Stars. Quietly, Ben Bishop had a Vezina-worthy season (although injury cost him enough starts to be in true contention). And we know he can perform in May; we’ve seen him reach the Cup finals with the Lightning in 2015.
For years, Dallas has been the all-offense team that can’t stop others from scoring. Now that they can, how far can they go?
Let's have fun and keep it civil.