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2019 NHL Playoff Primer – The Lightning, Wild Card Race, Canadian Teams and Stanley Cup Odds
Looking ahead to the playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the team to bet. A historic season has them as the favourite, with some online sportsbooks offering props on the Lightning going 16-0 in the postseason.
NHL Stanley Cup Facts
- Number 1 seeds (either Conference) have only won two Stanley Cups since 2006
- Canadian teams are 0-5 in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994
- Only two teams (97-98 Red Wings and 2016-17 Penguins) have repeated as champions since 1993
- Four teams (Blue Jackets, Jets, Wild and Coyotes) have never reached a Stanley Cup Finals
- Eight forwards, three goaltenders and two defensemen have won the Conn Smythe since 2006
NHL Playoff Odds Preview – The Race for the Wild Card
As of March 25, only six teams are eliminated from the NHL playoffs (five in the East and only one in the West), making the final half-dozen games left this season pretty darn important for most teams. The race in the Eastern Conference is between three teams for the two Wild Card spots. As of March 25, the Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens are in playoffs, with the Columbus Blue Jackets sitting ninth. Despite making some moves at the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets continue to struggle with dysfunctionality this season. It is hard to bet on the Blue Jackets to put together a consistent enough run to make the playoffs this year.
Eastern Conference Wild Card Teams: Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens
The Western Conference race is a little more exciting. The only six points separate seventh and eleventh place in the Western Conference. The Stars with 82 points in the first Wild Card spot have a rough schedule to end the season. Five of their final seven games are on the road. They also finish the season with games against the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks (who enter play on Monday one point and six points between the Stars). Expect the Stars to make the playoffs, but fall to the second Wild Card.
The team for the first Wild Card, which may surprise some, is the Arizona Coyotes. Despite a terrible four-game East road trip, which saw the Coyotes collect one of a possible eight points, Arizona still has a good chance at the playoffs. The Coyotes next three games are all against teams in the mix for the Wild Card – home against Chicago and Minnesota, with a visit to Colorado, sandwiched between. After that, the Coyotes end their season with games against the Kings, Golden Knights and Jets. The Kings are one of the worst teams in the league this season, while the Jets and Golden Knights will likely have nothing much to play for in their final two games, helping the Coyotes odds of making the NHL playoffs.
Western Conference Wild Card Teams: Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars
Best Stanley Cup Futures – Can Anyone Stop the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Arguably, the biggest story of the 2018-19 NHL season is the dominance of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are challenging NHL records this season, especially most wins by a team (the Lightning have 58 with seven games left to place. The record for a season is 62 by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings). Online sportsbooks have taken notice on their NHL futures and have moved them to the top of their NHL playoffs odds at +190 (or some of you were hopefully lucky enough to follow our preseason predictions and get them at a better price).
The Lightning lead the league in many statistical categories including goal differential, power play and penalty. The Lightning also have an outside chance at being the first team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have three players surpass 100 points in a season. The Lightning are not just apt at scoring. They have one of the best goaltenders in the league (Andrei Vasilevskiy, 2.33 GAA, .928 save percentage) and a ton of talent on the blue line. All this adds up to the Lightning being the best bet to win the Stanley Cup.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (+190) to Win the Stanley Cup
Canadian Teams and Their Chances of Winning the Cup
- Calgary Flames +700
- Winnipeg Jets +1200
- Toronto Maple Leafs +1600
- Montreal Canadiens +3000
- Edmonton Oilers +30000
- Vancouver Canucks +35000
- Ottawa Senators – Eliminated
Stanley Cup Odds as of March 24, 2019
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:
Looking at the list above, it probably best to avoid placing any wagers on the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. That leaves four teams with a chance to end Canada’s 25-year Stanley Cup drought. None of the four Canadian teams will play in the first round of the playoffs, and the Montreal Canadiens are far but guaranteed a spot in the postseason.
“The Toronto Maples at Montreal Canadiens on the final day of the regular season is one of the biggest remaining games on the schedule.”
Of the four Canadian teams in the playoff mix, the best bet to win the Stanley Cup are the Winnipeg Jets. The Winnipeg Jets are on pace to win their first Division title in franchise history. A win of the Central guarantees the Jets at least two home playoff series. The Jets are one of the best franchises at home over the previous two seasons, trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning for most wins on home ice.
The Jets also have experience (more so than the Calgary Flames), making their way to the Western Conference Finals last season. Their path to the Western Conference Finals this season is easier (as they will not have to play the President’s Trophy winner in the second round this year).
The Jets will need better production from Patrik Laine, who has only eight goals since December 1 (after 18 goals in November). If he can get hot in the playoffs, the Jets have the depth, goaltending and scoring abilities to beat any team in the playoffs.
Pick: Winnipeg Jets (+1200) to Win the 2019 Stanley Cup
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