Anybody else, aside from me and Ray Shero, feel as though they just awoke to Christmas morning?
Playoffs start this day, it is the most wonderful time of year, and we’re roughly as jacked up as Mitchell Marner after chugging his second-intermission Red Bull.
Drop the puck already.
Only a sweet 16 teams are applicable, thus we present our NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup Odds Edition.
Teams are ranked based on some (highly questionable) judgment in their strength going to the post-season. The Vegas line on their odds of keg-standing out of Lord Stanley are tagged below every write-up.
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1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Has there been a favorite for prom king? The Lightning strut to the dance like they own the place. Only the second team to amass 62 wins, the Bolts completed using a ridiculous plus-103 goal differential, just 41 goals better compared to Calgary. Tampa dresses three 40 goal scorers. Nikita Kucherov won the Art Ross in a stroll, and the Bolts have powerful contenders for the Hart, Vezina and Jack Adams. Brayden Point might get some Selke votes, also I have two Lightning defencemen on my Norris ballot. The tournament entrance with a mile.
Stanley Cup chances: 2/1
2. Calgary Flames
You have no doubt heard the phrase”there is no easy first-round match-ups” throughout the lead-up into Game 1, but the Flames did themselves so many favour by clinching the abandoned conference. Not only do they draw a Colorado squad that actually lost more games (44) than it won (38) — yay for the drop point! — but if they can take care of business swiftly, the Flames can kick their feet up and watch Vegas and San Jose pummel each other. For all the hand-wringing over Calgary’s goaltending, remember this: No Pacific playoff team gave up fewer targets than the Flames (227).
Stanley Cup odds: 8/1
3. Boston Bruins
Give the big, bad Bruins home-ice advantage as well the edge in grit and leadership advantage over the Maple Leafs, sure. And Bruce Cassidy is one of the greatest coaches no one talks about. However, Toronto has the upper hand in rate and offensive thickness, however large your opinion of Charlie Coyle. The major question is, which Tuukka Rask do we get? If it’s the person who posted seven sub-.900 rescue proportions in his previous 10 looks, Cassidy needs to recognize it quick and provide Jaroslav Halak the crease.
Stanley Cup odds: 9/1
4. Washington Capitals
Anyone else feel like the hockey world is sleeping about the reigning champs? Suretheir hardworking Round 1 competitor should be loose and has nothing to lose, but the Hurricanes should likewise be emptied from their standings climb, feeling like they have already played two weeks of playoffs. Led by a guy who has won the Rocket Richard so frequently they may think about renaming the trophy, the Caps dodged the Penguins and Islanders, have the majority of their Celtics roster in tact, and know what it takes to move all of the way.
Stanley Cup chances: 12/1
5. St. Louis Blues
Hotter than a pistol, the Blues’ remarkable post-Christmas ascent should strike fear throughout the province of Manitoba. Believe Ryan O’Reilly was happy not to attend Sabres locker clean-out moment? The Selke danger has watched everyone around him pick up the slack over the previous three months. The defence looks mean, Vladimir Tarasenko rediscovered his touch, and if rookie Jordan Binnington will preserve his .927 save percent, seem out.
Stanley Cup chances: 14/1
6. Nashville Predators
Great on the Predators to get out-pacing the Jets down the stretch. The Central Division kings can hang another banner and dodge the bullet that’s the third-seed Blues. It is the exact same old story in Nashville: The defence is elite, the goaltending should be solid enough to win a round or two, but the offence — ranked 19th overall — is suspicious. Incredibly, Nashville rolls in with the absolute worst power play in the NHL (12.9 per cent), and fresh guys Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund (one goal apiece) haven’t supplied an antidote. Serious ambitions are tempered by even more serious concerns.
Stanley Cup chances: 12/1
7. Pittsburgh Penguins
I’ve learned long ago: Never bet against a Sidney Crosby team. Evgeni Malkin is healthful, Matt Murray hit his stride in the second half, and the Penguins’ power play and experience are enough to make them a danger in any set. Yes, the Islanders carry more momentum to the championship, but the Penguins’ status as a miniature dynasty and continuing contender earns them an advantage in power.
Stanley Cup odds: 16/1
8. New York Islanders
The Islanders would be the ideal case of a sum exceeding its parts. Aims have been hard to uncover (228 complete, putting them 21st overall), and yet Barry Trotz’s team has bought into the idea that all they need to do is find the net once more than their opponent. As good of a benefit Nassau Coliseum may feel to be, the Isles actually registered the exact same number of wins house and away (24). Nobody has studied Mike Sullivan’s game plans as closely as Trotz, so when his Jennings-winning goaltenders will keep it rolling up, that knows how many chapters are abandoned in this Cinderella story?
Stanley Cup odds: 20/1
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