The 2017 NHL season comes to an end on Sunday, setting the stage for the Stanley Cup playoffs as the Pittsburgh Penguins look to defend their crown. Picking a Stanley Cup winner can be tough, and yet that job can be even harder by predicting which teams will meet in the Finals.
Online shops have pegged a matchup between the Blackhawks and Capitals as their favorite at +979 so if you like the chalk to come out of both conferences, that’s pretty decent value.
Pittsburg Penguins vs. St Louis Blues +6800
The Penguins are a team not getting a lot of respect in futures odds right now however, Kris Letang is on the verge of a return and if he, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Murray can all stay upright throughout the playoffs they’re the only players they really need for another run at the hardware.
They won’t be coming into the playoffs as hot as they did last year but that’s a good thing for bettors. Their value is inflated right now and you’d be wise to consider them to return to the Cup Finals for the fourth time since 2008.
One team that’s getting even less respect than the Penguins is the Blues. They’ve won seven of their last 10 games and it’s looking like they’ll probably play the Wild in the first round of the playoffs. Minnesota is a terrible hockey team right now and I love their chances of taking out the Blackhawks if they meet in the second round.
Montreal Canadiens vs Edmonton Oilers +8200
How about an all-Canadian matchup in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since the Flames met the Canadiens in the 1989 Finals? It’s not incredibly likely, but a real case can be made for both of these teams.
Case for the Oilers: Edmonton is hotter than any other team in the league and as we saw from the Penguins’ 8-2 straight up record heading into last year’s playoffs, going into the postseason on a heater is a good thing. Although they’ll be out-depthed by most of the teams in the West, they possess a game-breaking player in Connor McDavid and they’ll compete in any game he dawns the navy and orange.
Case for the Canadiens: Carey Price. No other player in the NHL controls the destiny of his team like the Habs’ no. 1 netminder does. When he’s on, the Canadiens win and when he’s not – which is rare – they lose. He’s been getting better and better as the season has progressed and I foresee a run similar to one that led the Habs to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2014-15.
If Price hadn’t gotten injured against the Lightning in that series, it’s more than possible that Montreal would’ve gone on to face the Blackhawks for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup instead of the Lightning. Find the best value for the Stanley Cup, sign up at Heritagesports