The Mighty Have Fallen in Stanley Cup 2019 Playoffs
As of this writing on Monday afternoon, two #8 seeds in the NHL playoffs in the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche have outplayed their NHL Stanley Cup odds and are moving on to round two. By the end of play Monday night the Western wild-card Dallas Stars could join them if they can beat Central Division champs Nashville on home ice in game 6 of their series.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are now the favorite in NHL futures and can close out their series against the Carolina Hurricanes with a win in Raleigh on Monday, while both Boston-Toronto and San Jose – Vegas will play a deciding game 7 on Tuesday, in Boston and San Jose respectively.
For Canadian hockey fans who had good reason to hope this would be the first time since 1993 an NHL team from the Great White North would hoist the Cup, the first round saw two of three possible teams lose out, and now the Maple Leafs are the last remaining chance.
Here’s a look at how we arrived at this point and what to expect going forward with NHL odds to win each Conference as well as the Stanley Cup.
NHL Western Conference Round 1
Colorado defeats Calgary 4-1
Calgary won top spot in the Western Conference with 107 regular season points, 17 up on their first round opponent Colorado, who only punched their ticket to the playoffs on the second-last day of the regular season. Things went according to script early with Calgary taking game 1 at home. But a dramatic overtime goal by Nathan McKinnon in game 2 seemed to stun the Flames, and from that point on Colorado was the better team.
From second-seeded wild card team, the Avalanche are now the second choice to win the Western Conference at SportsInteraction at +350 and are +800 to win the Cup. They’ll face the winner of Vegas – San Jose in round 2.
St. Louis defeats Winnipeg 4-2
Tied in points to end the regular season, the Jets grabbed the top seed by virtue of having three more regulation or overtime wins. But make no mistake, these were two teams going in opposite directions. Dead last in the league in early January, the Blues odds of making the Stanley Cup playoffs seemed astronomical at that point. But the team caught fire behind the play of AHL call-up goalie Jordan Binnington. The Jets, meanwhile, had one of the worst second-half records of all playoff teams.
Now favoured to win the Western Conference at +300 and +600 to win the Cup, the Blues await the winner of the Nashville – Dallas series.
Dallas leads Nashville 3-2
Anyone who wrote off the Stars chance to beat the Predators based on the fact Dallas didn’t score much in the regular season didn’t take into account the Stars had the best goals-against average in the Western Conference and second-best in the league. The fact is, after Dallas, Nashville scored the fewest goals in the regular season of all Western Conference playoff teams and have only managed 11 goals in the series first five games to Dallas’ 16, putting the upstart Texas team on the verge of moving on.
Right now Dallas is +400 to win the West and +800 to to win the Cup, while Nashville is +1000 and +2200 to stage a comback and go all the way.
San Jose and Vegas tied 3-3
Despite the fact the Golden Knights went all the way to the 2018 Cup Finals in their first season, and San Jose is always considered a contender, these are actually two bad teams. Consider the fact that both limped into the playoffs by only winning 3 of their last 10 games, with the Sharks going through a late season seven-game losing streak. In game 6 Vegas outshot San Jose 59-29 but still managed to lose in double overtime, giving up a short-handed goal as the winner. That’s just ugly hockey.
The winner of the series will go on to play Colorado. While Vegas is a slight favourite to win the West at +400 to the Sharks +450, both are listed at +900 to win Cup.
NHL Eastern Conference Round 1
Columbus beats Tampa Bay 4-0
Two weeks ago, if you had the Blue Jackets to beat the Lightning in this first-round match-up your friends were probably calling you an idiot. Today they’re calling you a genius. After rolling through a record-setting 62 win season, most fans were ready to engrave the TB players’ names on the Cup. And for 20 minutes of game 1 everything was going Tampa’s way. But as we now know, the Blue Jackets came storming back to win that game and then just kept on going, taking out the Lightning in four straight in one of the biggest playoff upsets in all of sports in recent history.
While everyone expected them to be golfing by now, the Blue Jackets are instead +320 to win the East and +600 to take the Cup. They await the winner of the Boston-Toronto series for round 2.
New York beats Pittsburgh 4-0
While not really an upset – the Islanders were the higher seed – anytime a team can hold Sidney Crosby and company winless over four games it’s a reason to take notice. After winning the Cup with Washington last year, coach Barry Trotz came in and totally remade the Islanders defence, and they went from the worst goals-against average in the league in 2017-18 to the best in 2018-19, the first time that has ever happened in NHL history. They lack big-name superstars, but Edmonton Oilers cast-off Jordan Eberle is emerging as a playoff star, with four goals in the four games, most of the dramatic variety.
The Islanders await the outcome of the Washington-Carolina series, and are +310 to win the East and +650 to win the Cup.
Boston and Toronto tied 3-3
This is a very close series as evidenced by the fact neither team has been able to win two games in a row with Boston holding a slight 18-14 edge in total goals. The big advantage has gone to Boston’s powerplay where they have scored on 7 of 16 chances. While most of Canada cheers on the Leafs to bring home the Cup, special teams and home ice might tip things to the Bruins advantage in game 7.
Boston is +470 to win the Eastern Conference and +850 to lift the Cup, while Toronto is +500 and +800, respectively.
Washington leads Carolina 3-2
The Hurricanes get credit for coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win the next two at home and make a series of it. If not for a game 2 overtime winner from the Caps Brookes Orpik they could even be leading the series. But there’s a sense Washington has finally woken up – handing the Canes a 6-0 thrashing in game 5 – and this one will likely be over by Monday night.
Washington is favoured to win the East at +280 and defend their championship at +500, while the underdog Canes are the longest shots in both catagories of all teams still playing at +1600 and +3300.
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