By Denton Day
The most exciting time of the year is finally here. The hunt for the Stanley Cup Trophy has officially begun. Coming into the playoffs there is a select group whose regular season play separates them from the rest of the teams. This leads many to think of them as favorites to win it all. Let’s take a look at each team in order of lowest probability to win to highest.
The Stars are the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference, finishing the season 50-23-9 with 109 points. The Stars main sources of offense are forward Jamie Benn and centers Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza, who all have over 30 goals and 60 total points this season. Behind those three, the Stars have nine other players who have scored double-digit goals this season, solidifying them as one of the better offenses in the NHL. Their goaltender play has been incredibly consistent this season; with both Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen having each won 25 games in the net. The Stars finished the season 8-2 in their final 10 games, and the Vegas Insider gives them an 8/1 chance to win it all.
Just a few weeks ago the Penguins were battling for their spot to even make it into the playoffs. Now after a stretch of 17-5 in the team’s final 22 games, the Penguins have put themselves as the second best team in the Eastern Conference with 104 points. The Penguins are led by the polarizing Sidney Crosby, who scored 36 goals and accumulated 85 points, both team leads. Forward Evgeni Malkin added 27 goals but played in only 57 games this year. Getting him back and healthy would make this Penguins offense very scary. Unfortunately for Penguins fans, Malkin will not be able to return to the ice until the middle of May, meaning the team will be without him for the first two rounds of the postseason. Vegas Insider gives Pittsburgh 15/2 odds to take home another Stanley Cup Trophy this year.
The Blackhawks can never be left off a list of NHL favorites in the playoffs, especially when they’re the defending Champions. Forward Patrick Kane had another phenomenal season for the Blackhawks, scoring 46 goals and racking up 60 assists, giving him 106 points on the year. That makes him the league leader by almost 20 points. Normally, the Blackhawks have one of the deepest teams in the NHL. This year it was a slightly different story. Chicago went 5-5 in their final 10 games and 8-10 in March and April. This is not the typical way the Blackhawks finish off seasons. Regardless, Vegas Insider gives them 13/2 odds to repeat and this team still has one of the deepest rosters in the league.
The Capitals have been the best team throughout the regular season. Winning the Presidents’ Trophy, the team has high expectations headed into the postseason, but Capitals fans will tell you that means nothing until they actually win. Regardless of the teams past failures in the postseason, there is no denying that this is probably the best Capitals team ever. Forward Alex Ovechkin has been nothing short of spectacular, this year scoring 50 goals for the seventh time in his career. For the first time in Ovechkin’s career, he finally has help as seven other players have scored 15+ goals this season. Adding T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams has been huge for the team and given them more veteran experience. However, the key to Washington’s success this season has been the play of goaltender Braden Holtby. Holtby won 48 games this year, tying a Capitals regular season record, and has been the best netminder in the NHL this year. Vegas Insider gives the Capitals 7/2 odds to win their first Stanley Cup Trophy in team history.