As we move into the last third of the regular season where teams make playoff push or earn better seeding for home ice advantage, time to look at current betting odds and determine levels of teams.
In reviewing these NHL odds, we will break it down into three quadrants, the teams most likely to reach the Stanley Cup finals, those on the door step and the rest with a chance with a hot goaltender and a couple of snipers who can find the back of the net.
The listed odds are courtesy of A+ rated 5Dimes.eu.
Compared to the NBA, where almost any given year no more than four teams can win the title, the NHL is more wide open. While it has not necessarily seemed that way with Chicago having won three Cups in the past six years. The Blackhawks and Dallas are the top choices out of the West at +700. You would have to give Chicago the edge on two fronts, one being experience and knowing what it takes to win and the other is Dallas a slightly below average defensive team which could be exposed in playoff series.
Los Angeles is the fourth pick at +800 and they have won Cups in 2012 and 2014 and were in the Western Conference finals against Chicago last season. The Kings have all the elements to make another run, but could stand to play better at the Staples Center than they have this season.
Washington is the overwhelming favorite at +298 and they have been dominate right from the start. We have seen this before out of the Capitals, having a great regular season only to flop in the postseason, but this is deeper Washington squad, less dependent on Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby is top goaltender.
For NHL picks, no real value is taking Washington, with Chicago and L.A. the best bets of this group.
Next Batch of Cup Contenders
St. Louis is an afterthought even in the Central Division, presently in third place, but is listed fifth at +1600 behind the behemoths. Defensively, the Blues have the right pieces to reach the finals, however, in the playoffs, their lack of offense has put a great deal of pressure on the stop troops and they have played tentative in recent years and not seeing where that changes.
The next Eastern Conference team finally shows up at +1700 in Florida. The Panthers used a 12-game winning streak to take over first place in the Atlantic, but they have been up and down since and seem to lack reliability in spite of good talent. Goalie Roberto Luongo is the wild card.