2014 Stanley Cup PlayoffsPlayoffs start Wednesday, April 16
The NHL playoffs are here, with the Boston Bruins coming in as the favorite with 11-to-4 odds to win it all. The Chicago Blackhawks are once again the favorites to win the Western Conference with 7-to-1 odds, but there are two other conference foes with single-digit odds with Anaheim and San Jose both at 8-to-1. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the biggest longshot at 38-to-1 to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup in mid-June.
Odds to Win 2014 Stanley Cup(For the latest Odds, connect to Sportsbook.com)
|San Jose Sharks||8-to-1|
|St. Louis Blues||8-to-1|
|Los Angeles Kings||12-to-1|
|New York Rangers||18-to-1|
|Detroit Red Wings||25-to-1|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||25-to-1|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||38-to-1|
Teams to WatchPITTSBURGH PENGUINS (7/1)
If anybody is going to knock off the Bruins, the Penguins will be that team. Although they were swept by Boston in last year's playoffs, the last two of those defeats came by scores of 2-1 (in double overtime) and 1-0. Sidney Crosby had 104 points in 80 games this season, which was 17 more points than anybody else in the NHL, and he is most responsible for Pittsburgh having the best power-play unit in the league (23.4%). Offense will not be a problem, but goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has not played up to his capabilities in the playoffs since helping his team win the Stanley Cup in 2009. Fleury has failed to post even a .900 Save Pct. in any of the four years since then, with a horrible GAA of 4.63 in 2012, and a subpar 3.51 GAA last postseason.
ANAHEIM DUCKS (8/1)
The Ducks will provide the greatest challenge to Chicago in these playoffs, as they lead the NHL in scoring at 3.21 goals per game. C Ryan Getzlaf (31 G, 56 A) and RW Corey Perry (43 G, 39 A) have combined for 11 points over the past six games, and Perry is eager to erase last year's postseason when he failed to score a goal in a heart-breaking, seven-game loss to Detroit where all four defeats were by one goal, with three coming in overtime. But for this Anaheim team to win its first Stanley Cup title since 2007, it will likely rely on rookie netminder Frederik Andersen, who will have loads of pressure on his shoulders for these playoffs. Luckily for him, his team is playing as well as anybody right now with a 7-2-1 mark in its past 10 games.
LOS ANGELES KINGS (12/1)
A hot goalie can carry a team throughout the NHL playoffs, and Jonathan Quick has shown that ability to stand on his head in the postseason. Two seasons ago, he posted a brilliant 1.41 GAA and .946 Save Pct. in leading his team to the Cup, and last year he also played well in the playoffs with a 1.86 GAA and .934 Save Pct. Quick is the biggest reason why the Kings lead the NHL in defense (2.05 goals allowed per game), and they still have two excellent playmakers in centers Anze Kopitar (29 G, 41 A) and Jeff Carter (27 G, 23 A). If they can get more out of their power play (15.1%, 27th in NHL), Los Angeles could escape rival San Jose and make another deep run.
MINNESOTA WILD (22/1)
If you're looking for a darkhorse candidate, take a flier on the Wild, who have arguably the best goalie in the league in Josh Harding. The 29-year-old not only leads the NHL with a 1.66 GAA, but his .933 Save Pct. is also tops in the league. Harding did not play very well in the five-game series loss to Chicago last season, posting a 2.94 GAA and .911 Save Pct., giving him even more incentive to lead his team past the Avalanche and possibly much farther. Minnesota also has two great scorers this postseason with wingers Jason Pominville (30 G) and Zach Parise (29 G in 67 games), and also has decent power play at 17.9%.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (22/1)
Other than East favorites Boston and Pittsburgh, a darkhorse team that nobody wants to play is the Flyers, who are 24-14-3 at home this season. They also possess top-notch units for both the power play (19.8%, 7th in NHL) and penalty kill (84.8%, 7th in league), and are loaded with great scoring depth. Philadelphia boasts seven players with at least 20 goals this season in Wayne Simmonds (29 G), Claude Giroux (28 G), Jakub Voracek (23 G), Matt Read (22 G) and the trio of 20-goal scorers in Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier. And while goaltending has failed this team in recent playoff appearances, 25-year-old Steve Mason could be the answer as he enters the postseason with a streak of 12 straight games of holding his opponent to three goals or less.