The calendar has turned over to the month of January, the time of the year that either makes or breaks many NHL teams’ seasons. Earlier this week, Betsology outlined the midseason Stanley Cup odds. Now, it’s time to look at the league’s Eastern and Western Conference projections.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+170)
It’s no surprise to see Tampa Bay, owners of the best overall Stanley Cups odds, with the highest odds to win the Eastern Conference as well. The Lightning are 8-1-1 in their last ten games, as of Monday, and are currently ten points clear of the next-best team in the league. The most impressive stat for the Lightning this year: Tampa has 23 more goals than the next-highest scoring team in the NHL, the Calgary Flames.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+290)
Opposing defenses and goaltenders cannot matchup with Toronto’s two lines of terror. With John Tavares manning the top line and Auston Matthews centering line number two, the Maple Leafs have given the Eastern Conference nightmares thus far. Plus, Toronto’s defensive group is gelling at exactly the right time.
Pittsburgh Penguins (+800)
Out of nowhere, the Pittsburgh Penguins have become a Stanley Cup contender. A rough start to the season and an injury to Sidney Crosby had experts talking about Pittsburgh as a seller at the trade deadline. That chatter was put to rest after the Pens rattled off an 8-game winning streak, which finally came to an end on Sunday.
Carolina Hurricanes (+3000)
Carolina’s off-season trade of Jeff Skinner continues to look worse by the day. Without Skinner, Carolina’s offense has essentially become a two-man show, featuring Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. The Hurricanes are currently sitting seven points out of a spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Florida Panthers (+5000)
A game behind Carolina in the overall conference standings, the Florida Panthers have struggled to find consistency all season. Despite having five players with 35-plus points, Florida can’t get it going. The main source of the team’s pain is in net. James Reimer’s 3.22 GAA barely edges out Robert Luongo’s 3.24 GAA.
San Jose Sharks (+400)
The San Jose Sharks are labeled the favorites out west even though the team doesn’t lead the Pacific Division. In fact, San Jose is third in the division, behind both the Flames and Golden Knights. Bovada’s odds makers seem to have enough belief that the extremely talented Sharks will make another second half run towards the Cup.
Winnipeg Jets (+425)
The Winnipeg Jets are in a dog fight, and will likely stay in a dog fight all year long, with the Nashville Predators breathing down the team’s neck at every turn. Winnipeg currently holds a one-point edge atop the Central Division. The Jets need last year’s Vezina nominee Connor Hellebuyck to step up his play down the stretch.
Calgary Flames (+450)
Johnny Gaudreau and the gang up in the Calgary look as dangerous as ever, both offensively and defensively. Thanks to career-years from Gaudreau and Mark Giordano, Calgary is poised to win the Pacific. The team has the best goal differential in the Western Conference right now, at plus-30.
Minnesota Wild (+2300)
Bruce Boudreau’s time is ticking behind the bench in Minnesota. Each year this squad has a roster capable making a run, yet comes up short again and again. Much like the Anaheim Ducks, the Minnesota Wild should sell off assets at the trade deadline and focus on the future.
Anaheim Ducks (+2400)
It’s baffling as to how the Anaheim Ducks are still alive in the playoff race. The Ducks’ 104 goals scored are the second-lowest in the NHL, and the team’s defense hasn’t been much better. Rickard Rakell has just five goals in 30 games, but Goalie John Gibson has shown he can keep the team afloat when between the pipes.