Updated Odds to Win the 2016 Stanley Cup
The Chicago Blackhawks have stormed their way to the top of the Western Conference — and they are still at the top of the online odds chart for the Stanley Cup when the playoffs come around this summer. Their twelve-game winning streak in January has cooled off a bit, but as the Blackhawks’ 5-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars last weekend showed, the Blackhawks (still sitting at 9/2 to win the Cup) are still red-hot and show no signs of relinquishing their top spot.
Updated Lines for the 2016 Stanley Cup
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 7, 2016
Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars have dropped to 12/1 odds. Those defensive lapses that kept them out of the playoffs last year have emerged since the year changed to 2016, and while the offense is still scoring in bunches, the back line has become unreliable, and neither goalie is enough of a magician to clean up the mess.
Who’s in between the Blackhawks and the Stars? The Washington Capitals are the favorite in the East, currently sitting with 5/1 odds. The Lightning are right behind them in the East, at 8/1 odds. However, the way I see it, the Lightning are up that high on the chart because of last year’s results, not on the basis of this year yet. They were in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, but they have lost that defensive urgency that got them through the regular season and the playoffs last year. It has returned of late, but the team needs to commit to that urgency on a more regular basis.
Then there are the Los Angeles Kings, first in the Pacific Division and sitting at 5/1. Their recent success in the postseason is a factor in these odds, but they have also done quite well this year, blending scoring and defense masterfully.
The New York Rangers are sitting at 12/1 odds. This is a strong team with a dynamite netminder in Henrik Lundqvist, but they need offensive consistency if they are going to make it through the playoffs. Defense tightens up significantly for teams who make it through the first round, and the Rangers will need to find more ways to score.
Now for the rest of the table:
St. Louis 16/1
Minnesota, N.Y. Islanders, Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh 25/1
Nashville, San Jose 30/1
Montreal, New Jersey 60/1
Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Carolina, Edmonton 100/1
Toronto, Buffalo 500/1
I think that if Minnesota can add some consistency to their scoring, they have the defensive grit to slide up and surprise some teams. Nashville has a tradition of playing strong defense in the regular season and then vanishing in the postseason. If Carey Price can return and lead the Canadiens into the playoffs, that 60/1 bet could pay off big time. As for some of the rest of the teams that are down the list, it may be time to consider planning assets for next season.