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Lightning Still Getting Plus-Odds to Make Stanley Cup Finals; Is There Value?

Tampa Bay Lightning Right Wing Nikita Kucherov
Tampa Bay Lightning Right Wing Nikita Kucherov leads the NHL in points this season. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)
  • 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.

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
Pittsburgh Penguins +900
Boston Bruins +1000
Montreal Canadiens +1200
Washington Capitals +1200
Columbus Blue Jackets +1500
Carolina Hurricanes +2000
Buffalo Sabres +2500

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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