- The Tampa Bay Lightning are favored to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019
- Is it too early to count out the Pittsburgh Penguins?
- Can the Capitals reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight season?
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a strong contender in the NHL’s Eastern Conference as far back as 2011 when they lost to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Storm’s comin’ in 🔥
— adidas Hockey (@adidashockey) February 8, 2019
They also made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks, and followed that up by losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals and to the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals.
This has to be Tampa Bay’s year given the team’s past playoff success and the fact that Tampa Bay has the shortest odds to win the 2019 Stanley Cup.
Odds to Reach the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals
|Team||Odds to Reach 2019 Stanley Cup Finals at Bovada (02/08/19)|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+135|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+400|
|New York Islanders||+900|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+1500|
At +135 to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, is there still value in betting TB? If not, who’s the best bet right now?
Lightning Electric So Far this Season
The Lightning are the best bet right now and there are a number of reasons why. Keeper Andrei Vasilevskiy is among the league leaders in a number of categories and is second in shutouts behind goalie Marc Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 8, 2019
Vasilevskiy has proven night after night he can get it done and should shoulder a heavy load down the stretch and into the playoffs.
On defense, Victor Hedman leads the Lightning and is backed up by a capable cast including Ryan McDonagh. It’s hard to find a hole in this team as they are deep at every position.
“You want to be playing your best hockey at this time of the year and moving forward. We have tightened things up defensively, for sure. We’d like to collectively continue to do that and keep winning games. That’s our goal down the stretch.”#STLvsTBL | Steven Stamkos: pic.twitter.com/LTbMffn9hg
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 7, 2019
Their scoring prowess up front is well known as Nikita Kucherov leads the league in assists and points, and is the odds on favourite to win the Art Ross. Backing him up our Brayden Point with 66 points and Steven Stamkos with 61. Stamkos is one of the best in the game since being drafted in 2008 and easily matches up with the likes of Crosby and Ovechkin.
Don’t Count Out Pittsburgh Until the Final Buzzer Sounds
While behind the Leafs and Islanders , The Pittsburgh Penguins are at +900 to make the Final and it’s hard to argue with that. Pittsburgh won back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017 and lost to the Capitals in the second round in 2018. Pittsburgh still has one of the best in game in Sidney Crosby.
Pittsburgh still has one of the best in game in Sidney Crosby.
They acquired Jared McCann and Nick Bjugstad from Florida in the hopes of bolstering a team that has many pieces from their previous two Cups including Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang.
SHORTHANDED GOAL! MCCANN! His first as a member of the Penguins against his former team. Pittsburgh ties it up 1-1 with 6:09 left in the 2nd period. pic.twitter.com/HHrliKGA2s
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 8, 2019
Capitals Still Have a Shot
Surprising to see that the Washington Capitals, the 2018 Cup winner, have fallen to +1200. Like the Penguins, we shouldn’t dismiss the Caps because they have been so strong in the last few years. They have had minimal loses from that team with Jay Beagle going to Vancouver and Head Coach Barry Trotz now with the New York Islanders.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 6, 2019
Oddsmakers may not have the same confidence in them because of those moves. The Capitals still have Alex Ovechkin who looks to win the Rocket Richard trophy again for top goal scorer. Ovechkin also passed Sergei Fedorov as the NHL’s highest scoring Russian born player.