As of Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending Eastern Conference champions, are the only team to advance to the conference finals in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They ended the New York Islanders’ season with a Game 5 win on Sunday. But oddsmakers aren’t huge fans of the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup for a second time in franchise history as they are only fifth favorites overall on NHL odds at +525.
An In Depth Analysis on the Revised Odds To Win The Stanley Cup
The Lightning beat the Islanders, and the Detroit Red Wings in the series before that (also in five games), despite playing without top scorer Steven Stamkos due to a blood clot problem and top defenseman Anton Stralman due to a broken leg. But it’s possible both could be ready for Game 1 of the East Finals — Stralman more likely than Stamkos. Ben Bishop is a Vezina Trophy finalist who has played very well this postseason. He has a 1.89 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in the postseason, third among goalies remaining. He has two shutouts, tied for first, each in closeout games. Center Tyler Johnson leads the Lightning with 13 points (four goals) in the Stanley Cup playoffs. His linemate, Nikita Kucherov, leads the NHL with nine goals. It is Tampa Bay’s third time in the conference final since 2011.
The current Cup favorites are the Pittsburgh Penguins at +275. They lead the Washington Capitals, the team with the most points during the NHL’s regular season, 3-2 in their series. Game 6 is in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Pittsburgh may switch goalies to Marc-Andre Fleury. He hasn’t played since suffering a concussion on March 31, and only began taking part in full practice sessions last week ahead of Game 3. He has served as Matt Murray’s backup the past three games after receiving medical clearance. But Murray was shaky in Game 5, allowing three goals on 19 shots in a loss. Murray still had wins in 13 of his past 15 starts, ranked fourth in this postseason in both goals against average (1.96) and save percentage (.937). Coach Mike Sullivan wouldn’t say who he is planning to start.
The Capitals forced a Game 6 when trailing 3-1 in a best-of-7 series for the fifth time in eight all-time scenarios. They have gone on to win two of those previous series: 1988 vs. Philadelphia and 2009 vs. the New York Rangers.
The Lightning and Penguins have met once in the playoffs; Tampa Bay defeated Pittsburgh in seven games in the first round in 2011. Tampa Bay defeated Washington in each of their two postseason series (2003 first round, six games; 2011 second round, four games.). Tampa Bay was 3-0 this regular season against the Penguins and 0-3 vs. Washington.
In the West, St. Louis can close out visiting Dallas in Game 6 on Monday night as can San Jose in Game 6 at Nashville. The Blues are now +325 second-favorites to win their first Cup. The Blues haven’t been to the West Finals since 2001. If San Jose loses Monday, history favors it to close things out in Game 7. The Sharks are 7-0 in seven all-time postseason games against the Predators in San Jose. Nashville is the +2500 long shot to win its first Stanley Cup.
Expert Betting Prediction
Penguins and Blues reach the Cup Finals.