2020 NHL Stanley Cup Predictions with Futures Odds
The NHL All-Star game is just around the corner, falling on the NFL's weekend off before the Super Bowl. As we get ready for that break, it's a good time to assess where we are at in the NHL with a look ahead to the Stanley Cup. The Cup won't get hoisted until well into June so there is a ton of hockey left to play, but we have seen enough to make a few Stanley Cup predictions. Here's a look at some of the more interesting teams at lower odds:
Tampa Bay Lightning (+700): An alarming amount of the season was spent trying to figure out what was wrong with the Tampa Bay Lightning. After one of the great regular seasons of all time last year, the team had suffered the most shocking playoff elimination I remember - in any sport. And a hangover from that stuck to them like glue to start this season. This stupidly talented team was fighting just to stay above .500 well into December. But as the holidays neared, something clicked, and we moved from waiting for this team to wake up to wondering why it took so long. Since losing to the Islanders on December 9, the team has gone 13-3-1. They have been particularly good since December 23, where they won 10 straight before losing last time out in the second game of a back to back. The schedule hasn't been the toughest it could be, but it hasn't been a total joke, either. And that's not what matters. The team has remembered who they are, and they have played with confidence that was lost for too long. They need to get and stay healthy, but no team can match their depth or their top end talent. And after the debacle of that four-game sweep in the opening round last year, they should go into these playoffs with determination like no other team. I picked them to win the Cup the last two years heading into the season, and I did so again before this season. My confidence hasn't changed. And if you had told me before the season that I would be able to get this price in January, I would have laughed in your face. I remain happily on the bandwagon.
Boston Bruins (+900): At the beginning of December, it seemed like no team could match these guys. But since then, things have been weird. They lost five, won one, then dropped three more. Then they won three, lost three, and won three. They just can't keep anything rolling. Six of those losses have come in overtime, too, giving them 11 on the season - which is four more than any other team. A squad like this one shouldn't struggle that badly in the clutch. The core here deserves all the respect in the world, but I am not sold on this team as a top tier threat - not one that justifies this price.
Washington Capitals (+900): Like the Bruins, Washington has slowed down of late, going 6-6 in their last 12 heading into this week. The biggest concern here, though, is Braden Holtby. He's one of the best goalies on the planet. However, outside from a strong November, he just hasn't been very good at all this year. His save percentage sits at .899, which is all but incomprehensible for him. They are giving him all sorts of time to work his way out of it, and he's only 30, so there is no reason to think he won't. This team will be a whole lot easier to love come playoff time, though, if Holtby is the beast we are used to.
St. Louis Blues (+1000): Last year at this point the Blues were just unleashing what would become a historic charge after a rough early start to the season. Actually, rough is far too kind. But they learned a whole lot from their playoff run, and they have not suffered any kind of hangover this year. They got off to a slightly rocky 3-2-3 start to the season but have rolled to a stellar 26-8-4 mark since. Jordan Binnington is proving to be no one hit wonder, and the talent behind him is deep. The West isn't as scary as it seemed like it would be - the Pacific, in particular. That makes this price pretty easy to like, even if repeating is very tough and they will have played a whole lot of hockey if they run deep twice in a row.
Colorado Avalanche (+1200): Stop me if you have heard this before, but this is a very good team that has been in a deep funk for the last month or so. They have dropped nine of 13 since the middle of December. Staying healthy has been an ongoing problem, and goaltending has been a bit more of an adventure than they would like. But this young team is so fast and so offensively dangerous that I have faith that they are going to figure it out. They had some playoff success last year, and they should really build on it. Having this price available now feels like we have the chance to buy low. There is good value here.
Dallas Stars (+1200): The Stars have been mired in unexpected drama as coach Jim Montgomery was fired very unexpectedly on December 10. It was not a performance related change, but the team has still enjoyed a boost since he left, going 8-4-1 under interim coach Rick Bowness. Their goaltending has been just stellar this year, which has really helped. But the offensive stars aren't yet carrying the load they should - Jamie Benn has just 22 points in 45 games, which is a major underachievement. I like this team fine, but not as much as I have in past years. Compared to Colorado, this price does nothing for me.
Arizona Coyotes (+1600): I find this situation interesting. The team was very aggressive in the offseason bringing in Phil Kessel, and even more aggressive in the last month trading for Taylor Hall. The moves haven't paid off as anticipated yet - Kessel has only been okay, and the team is 6-7 since Hall came on board. But there is a lot to like about this team. Their top two goalies are both banged up, and that needs to change, but this is a team that could get on a roll at the right time. I would like them a lot better at +2500 or so, and it's probably a year or two too soon for this squad, but I will have my eye on this team the rest of the way to see what they are made of.
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