2018 Stanley Cup Finals Expert Betting Predictions with Odds and Analysis
We are at the halfway point of the NHL season, give or take. And, like every year, there have been some shocking surprises - both positive and negative. The Edmonton Oilers were favored heading into the season, and they are a long shot to even make the playoffs now. Meanwhile, expansion Vegas is leading the entire Western Conference. It will never not be weird thinking about that last sentence. So, at the halfway point, who is going to win the Stanley Cup? Let's make some Stanley Cup predictions, shall we? (odds to win the Stanley Cup are from BetOnline )
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Tampa Bay Lightning (+600): The Lightning are going to be very tough to beat. They have the best goaltending in at least the East - Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the whole league in both save percentage and goals against and in wins as well. Their explosive top two forwards are first and fourth in league scoring. They already have an 11-point lead in the conference and have shown no signs of fading. They didn't make the playoffs last year, but they have playoff experience to draw on in the past. The coaching is strong, and they are deep and talented. I'm not crazy about the price, but they are the clear favorites at this point and are my pick to win the Stanley Cup.
Boston Bruins (+1200): They have added a lot of young players recently, and they are getting tremendous production from many of them. That combined with elite-level goaltending and a strong core has this team way ahead of schedule this year after a bit of a rebuild on the fly. As impressive as it has been, though, I just don't see it lasting. This success seems tenuous.
Washington Capitals (+1200): Alexander Ovechkin, after a couple of years of looking disinterested and on a decline, is on track to score 50 goals yet again. He's skating like a younger man, and he is engaged like he hasn't been. It's a good omen, and the team looks good yet again. They are the Capitals, though, so I refuse to get sucked into believing that they can actually perform when they need to in the playoffs. Not after they have disappointed so many times.
Vegas Golden Knights (+1200): This can't be real life, can it? A ragtag bunch of rejects from other teams somehow are leading the entire Western Conference and has the second-best record in the league. And they have a league-low two losses at home. They looked defensively solid on paper, but the offense was a concern. But they are tied with Winnipeg for the most goals in the conference - and the Jets have played two more games. I would say that they can't possibly keep this up. But then I said the same thing 30 games ago, and here we are. None of it makes sense. All I do know, though, is that Gerard Gallant is proving what kind of a coach he is and how incredibly stupid Florida was to fire him.
L.A. Kings (+1400): Jonathan Quick has rediscovered his mojo in net, and it has had a big impact on this squad. An even bigger impact, though, has been the departure of Darryl Sutter behind the bench. He had plenty of success with the team, but his message had gotten really old and the team had quit on him. Now they are playing with a jump that had been missing, and they are probably the team to beat in the Pacific - with apologies to the Knights.
Nashville Predators (+1400): They made the finals last year, and they are a better, more well-rounded regular-season team than last season. They are in the picture, and this price feels about right.
New Jersey Devils (+1400): Remember when I talked about surprises at the outset of the article? Behind the positive of Vegas and the negative of Edmonton, this is the top of the list. They have hit a rough stretch lately, losing four in a row, and will likely fall back to earth to some degree, but it is impressive at this point nonetheless.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+1600): This young squad really jumped out of the gate, but reality has hit a little lately. Their goaltending isn't ideal and certainly isn't helped by a shortage of defensemen. They have some very nice pieces at the core, and they have enough forward depth to deal for some defensive help, but it feels like their time isn't here just yet. A playoff team, and not a fun one for anyone to play, but not yet a real contender.
Winnipeg Jets (+1600): There is always a team in the playoffs that no one wants to play. Last year that was Nashville. This year it could very easily be the Jets. Their offense is potent and deep. They are sound defensively. And they have a shared belief in what they are doing that is very strong. This team is fun, and they are a bandwagon well worth checking out.
Pittsburgh Penguins (+2000): The Penguins made repeating look much easier than it is, but now they are showing how tough three-peating is. They currently sit two spots out of a wild-card spot, and they are an ugly 8-12-2 on the road. They just aren't what they need to be. Injuries in net and elsewhere have hurt them, but that's not the whole story. It just feels like playing so much hockey is catching up to them. They are well within range, and they are typically a closer team, but this price still isn't high enough.
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