Following a first round that saw it all – from the vaunted Chicago Blackhawks getting swept without scoring a goal at home, to overtime thrillers and the ascendance of stars in Toronto and Edmonton – the NHL playoffs are set for the second round.
With only eight contenders remaining for the Stanley Cup, online sportsbook Bovada has reshuffled its futures odds on which team will lift the greatest trophy in all of sport.
And just like they were back at the All-Star Break, the Washington Capitals (+300) are the favorites to finally get over the Stanley Cup hump. To accomplish that feat, superstar Alexander Ovechkin and his Presidents’ Trophy winning supporting cast must do something they’ve never done during the Russian sniper’s 11-season reign: get out of the second round.
That’ll be a tough task though, as the Capitals face off against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins (+450) – Bovada’s number-two on the Stanley Cup pecking order.
Sidney Crosby and Co. put up the second-best regular season point total, with 111 to the Caps’ 118, and the two teams have been on a collision course all year. And while Pittsburgh coasted by an overmatched Columbus in a 4-1 romp, Washington was pushed hard by overachieving, rookie-powered Toronto in a six-game nail-biter.
The next two teams on Bovada’s list both carry (+550) odds to win it all, which is fitting as the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks meet in Round 2.
The Ducks won their fourth straight division crown in the new look Pacific, posting 105 points this year after a 103-point campaign last year. But they nearly saw their divisional dynasty end, and to an Oilers team that finished in the cellar last season no less.
Edmonton’s consistent drafting at the top of the class finally produced a major improvement, as Connor McDavid made the leap with a stellar 100-point season. That equated to a 32-point turnaround in the season standings for the Oilers, who weren’t content to celebrate simply making the postseason in dispatching the Sharks in six.
Up next at Bovada are a pair of Central Division also-rans that managed to steal the thunder from their regular season rivals.
Both the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators are offering (+700) odds against winning the Cup, which makes sense for two teams coming off such similar seasons.
The Blues and Preds finished 3-4 in the Central, well behind the Blackhawks and Wild at 1-2, respectively. But in the first round, St. Louis ousted Minnesota in five, while Nashville authored a stunningly dominant sweep.
Stingy defense led both teams to the second round, so a tight, low-scoring series should be in the cards.
The last matchup of the second round pits the New York Rangers (+800) against the Ottawa Senators (+1100), but Bovada doesn’t like either team to make it much further.
New York was lost in the proverbial shuffle during the regular season, finishing fourth in the Metropolitan Division behind Washington, Pittsburgh, and Columbus. Even so, the Blueshirts knocked off the Atlantic Division leading Canadiens in a back-and-forth six-game series to start their postseason in style.
As for the Sens, they may not have much left in the tank after an exhausting six-game survival over the Bruins – a series which featured three overtime finishes, plus a double-OT ending to boot.
|Team||Stanley Cup Odds on 4/25|
|St. Louis Blues||+700|
|New York Rangers||+800|