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Odds to Win the Eastern and Western Conferences Entering the 2019 NHL Playoffs

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov
Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning are favored to win the NHL's Eastern Conference. Photo by Resolute (Wiki Commons) [CC License]
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning are favored to win the NHL’s Eastern Conference title
  • The Lightning have played in the Eastern Conference final in three of the past four seasons
  • The Calgary Flames are favored to win the Western Conference championship

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the NHL’s Eastern Conference title in 2014-15. They’ve come within a victory of taking conference honors in two of the past three springs.

As the 2018-19 Stanley Cup playoffs get set to begin, BetOnline is favoring the Lightning to wear the crown in the East.

The Calgary Flames are the chalk to win the Western Conference championship.

2018-19 NHL Conference Championship Odds

Team 2018-19 NHL Eastern Conference Odds at BetOnline
Tampa Bay Lightning +140
Boston Bruins +450
Washington Capitals +500
Carolina Hurricanes +1000
New York Islanders +1000
Pittsburgh Penguins +1000
Toronto Maple Leafs +1000
Columbus Blue Jackets +1600
Team 2018-19 NHL Western Conference Odds at BetOnline
Calgary Flames +350
Winnpeg Jets +450
Nashville Predators +500
San Jose Sharks +500
St. Louis Blues +500
Vegas Golden Knights +800
Colorado Avalanche +1000
Dallas Stars +1200

*Odds taken on 04/03/19. Follow the link in table above for a complete list of all teams.

The last time the Flames won the Western Conference title, they played the Lightning in the 2003-04 Stanley Cup final.

Will Lightning Finally Strike?

What’s not to like about this season’s edition of the Lightning? They tied Detroit’s NHL-record 62 victories and accumulated 128 points, fourth-most in NHL history. They are the first team to win 30 games at home and on the road in NHL history.

Their 325 goals were the most scored by an NHL team since 1995-96 and Tampa Bay’s +103 goal differential was the widest recorded by a club since 2005-06.

Eastern Contenders

The Boston Bruins were an impressive 28-9-3 at home. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are hockey’s best two-way line and Bergeron is Boston’s first 100-point scorer since Joe Thornton in 2002-03.

Tuukka Rask (27) and Jaroslav Halak (22) were 20-game winners. The last time both of Boston’s goalies won 20 was in 1989-90. The Bruins won the Eastern Conference title.

You can’t discount the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. They won their fourth straight Metropolitan Division title and Alex Ovechkin netted a league-leading 51 goals to collect his record eighth Rocket Richard Trophy.

The Toronto Maple Leafs sure can score. Led by Auston Matthews and John Tavares, the Leafs are as deep at center as any team in the league. But they’ve never been able to rectify the defensive problems that have plagued them all season. Toronto won just three of its last 10 games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins earned back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2015-16 and 2016-17, but although captain Sidney Crosby recorded 100 points for the sixth time in his career, the Pens have looked out of sync all season long.

The Eastern Verdict

We’ll go with the best. Art Ross Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov recorded 128 points, the best season ever posted by a Russian-born player. Victor Hedman is the reigning Norris Trophy winner and Andrei Vasilevskiy is a Vezina Trophy favorite.

Not only is Tampa Bay skilled, the Lightning do the details as well as anyone. They can check, they can defend. They can do it all.

The Wild Western Conference

As much as the Lightning struck down all competition in the East, over in the West, it was wide open. Three teams – the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues – all entered the final weekend of the season with a shot at taking the Central Division title.

In the Pacific Division, the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks duked it out. Calgary’s top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm is dynamic. The Flames’ top-four defenders are solid, led by 74-point man Mark Giordano. But neither of Calgary’s goalies, Mike Smith or David Rittich, has consistently stopped the puck.

The Sharks face a similar dilemma. Their defense is anchored by two Norris Trophy winners in Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, and their depth of scoring is impressive. But Martin Jones owns a dismal .896 save percentage.

Nashville was in the 2016-17 Stanley Cup final and Winnipeg was a Western Conference finalist a year ago, but both teams just seem to be lacking something. Vegas was the darling of 2017-18, rolling to the Cup final as a first-year club. The Golden Knights will seek to join the 1925-26 Montreal Maroons and 1927-28 New York Rangers as second-year Stanley Cup champions.

The Western Verdict

Cinderella will again wear skates in the West. Just like Vegas last season, no one expected much from the St. Louis Blues when they sat 31st overall in the NHL at 7-9-3 and replaced coach Mike Yeo with Craig Berube.

St. Louis led the NHL with 65 points in 2019. Jordan Binnington went 24-5-1 with a 1.89 GAA, .927 save percentage and five shutouts. That’s the best GAA posted by a rookie goalie since Al Rollins (1.77) with the 1950-51 Stanley Cup champion Leafs.

The Blues haven’t been to the Stanley Cup final since 1970. That slump ends this spring.

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An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.