With a whopping 10 more victories than any other team in the league this season, the explosive Tampa Bay Lightning have been the best team in the NHL since the first puck dropped way back in October.
With the Lightning showing absolutely no signs of slowing down as the regular season steamrolls to a close, the big (only?) question heading into the postseason is, ‘Can anyone stop Tampa Bay?
Let’s take a look at the latest odds to win the 2019 Stanley Cup and the nine teams that I believe stand the best chances of winning it all this season.
Updated 2019 Stanley Cup Odds – March 11th
Odds to Win 2019 Stanley Cup Final
- Tampa Bay Lightning 5/2
- San Jose Sharks 9/1
- Nashville Predators 10/1
- Toronto Maple Leafs 10/1
- Winnipeg Jets 10/1
- Boston Bruins 12/1
- Calgary Flames 12/1
- Vegas Golden Knight 14/1
- Washington Capitals 14/1
- Pittsburgh Penguins 18/1
- Columbus Blue Jackets 20/1
- St. Louis Blues 20/1
- New York Islanders 22/1
- Minnesota Wild 35/1
- Carolina Hurricanes 45/1
- Dallas Stars 45/1
- Montreal Canadiens 45/1
- Colorado Avalanche 65/1
- Chicago Blackhawks 75/1
- Philadelphia Flyers 75/1
- Arizona Coyotes 85/1
The Tampa Bay Lightning (52-13-3-1) lead the NHL in scoring (3.8 gpg) while also ranking a stupendous fourth in goals allowed (2.6 gpg). Tampa Bay has won eight of 10 heading into the new week and they have a quartet of legitimate superstars in Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning are definitely not going down without a fight – if at all.
I know the San Jose Sharks (41-19-5-3) are playing really well right now, but I have absolutely no idea why the Sharks are now the prohibitive favorite in the Western Conference, seeing as how they rank a stupendous second in scoring (3.6 gpg) but an uninspiring 19th in goals allowed (3.1 gpg) and I believe their lack of defense will come back to haunt them come playoff time.
The Nashville Predators (39-26-4-1) rank a fantastic sixth in goals allowed (2.7 gpg), but just 16th in scoring (2.9 gpg). Yes, goaltender Pekka Rinne is elite, but Nashville’s lack of offensive firepower will almost certainly doom them come playoff time if you ask me.
TorontoThe Toronto Maple Leafs (42-21-5-0) rank a stellar third in scoring (3.6 gpg) and a solid 11th in goals allowed (2.9 gpg) and they have the look of a team that could be capable of potentially beating Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, the Lightning seem to own the Leafs, having won three of the last four meetings and five of seven overall. Toronto has a pair of an unabashed stars in 21-year-old center Mitch Marner (82 points) and 21-year-old center Auston Matthews (60 points).
The Winnipeg Jets (40-24-3-1) were my preseason pick to win the Western Conference and I believe that could still very well happen, seeing as how Winnipeg ranks fifth in scoring (3.4 gpg) and a respectable 13th in goals allowed (3.0 gpg). While the Jets have dropped six of their last 10 games, they’ve also managed to beat Vegas and Nashville during the span and that alone tells me Winnipeg is still capable of beating anyone! More importantly, the Jets look like they’re going to seriously contend for years to come with a core that features several gifted young players like Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Brian Little among others.
The Boston Bruins (42-18-6-3) rank a decent 16th in scoring (3.0 gpg) while ranking a phenomenal second in goals allowed (2.5 gpg). Wins over San Jose (twice), Vegas and Tampa Bay over their last 10 games suggest the Bruins are peaking at just the right time.
The Calgary Flames (42-20-3-4) average 3.5 goals per game (fourth) while limiting the opposition to just 2.8 goals per contest defensively (10th). Calgary has struggled a bit over the last two weeks, but the Flames won’t be dispatched by any team that isn’t a legit title contender themselves. Last but not least, Calgary left winger Johnny Gaudreau is an unequivocal star and legitimate Hart trophy candidate.
The expansion darlings from a year ago have proven they are quite legitimate despite the fact that they are no longer a surprise team viewed as a one-hit wonder. The Vegas Golden Knights (38-27-3-2) average a solid 3.0 goals per game (14th) but it is at the defensive end of the ice where Vegas really excels. The Knights rank an impressive sixth in goals allowed (2.7 gpg) while also ranking inside the Top 10 in penalty killing, shots against and shutouts. Vegas may not be the best team in the West this season, but the reigning conference champs are going to be very difficult to dispatch.
If you think the defending Stanley Cup champs (41-21-6-1) have a title hangover, then maybe you should think again. 33-year-old team leader and future Hall of Fame superstar Alex Ovechkin is showing no signs of aging with a stupendous 46 goals and 31 assists right now. The Washington Capitals rank seventh in scoring (3.4 gpg), but just 20th in goals allowed (3.1 gpg). Still, the Caps look like a team that is going to challenge for the eastern Conference championship – even if they’re not the favorites or the team I expect to actually represent the conference come playoff time.