NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup Odds Edition

Anyone else, besides me and Ray Shero, feel like they just awoke to Christmas morning?
Playoffs start this evening, it is the best time of year, and we’re roughly as jacked up as Mitchell Marner after chugging his second-intermission Red Bull.
Drop the puck already.
Just a sweet 16 teams are relevant, so we present our NHL Power Rankings: Stanley Cup Odds Edition.
Teams are ranked based on some (highly questionable) judgment in their strength heading into the post-season. The Vegas line in their probability of keg-standing out of Lord Stanley are tagged below each write-up.
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1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Has there ever been a favourite for prom king? The Lightning strut into the dance like they have the place. Only the second team to amass 62 wins, the Bolts completed using a ridiculous plus-103 target differential, only 41 goals better compared to Calgary. Tampa dresses three 40 goal scorers. Nikita Kucherov won the Art Ross in a stroll, and the Bolts have strong contenders for the Hart, Vezina and Jack Adams. Brayden Point might get a few Selke votes, also I have two Lightning defencemen on my Norris ballot. The tournament entry with a mile.
Stanley Cup chances: 2/1
2. Calgary Flames
You have no doubt heard the term»there’s no simple first-round match-ups» throughout the lead-up to Game 1, but the Flames did themselves so many favour by clinching the left conference. Not only do they draw a Colorado squad that actually lost more games (44) than it won (38) — yay for its drop point! — but if they can look after business swiftly, the Flames can kick their feet up and watch Vegas and San Jose pummel each other. For all of the hand-wringing over Calgary’s goaltending, remember this: No Pacific playoff team gave up fewer targets than the Flames (227).
Stanley Cup odds: 8/1
3. Boston Bruins
Give the big, bad Bruins home-ice edge as well the edge in grit and direction advantage over the Maple Leafs, convinced. And Bruce Cassidy is one of the best coaches nobody talks about. But Toronto has got the upper hand in rate and offensive depth, no matter how high your opinion of Charlie Coyle. The big question here is, which Tuukka Rask do we get? When it’s the person who posted seven sub-.900 save percentages in his previous 10 looks, Cassidy should recognize it fast and provide Jaroslav Halak that the crease.
Stanley Cup chances: 9/1
4. Washington Capitals
Anyone else feel as the hockey world is sleeping about the reigning champs? Sure, their hardworking Round 1 opponent ought to be loose and has nothing to lose, but the Hurricanes should also be exhausted in their standings scale, feeling like they have already played two months of playoffs. Directed by a guy who’s won the Rocket Richard so frequently they might think about renaming the decoration, the Caps dodged the Penguins and Islanders, have the bulk of their Celtics roster in tact, and know exactly what it takes to go all of the way.
Stanley Cup chances: 12/1
5. St. Louis Blues
Hotter than a pistol, the Blues’ remarkable post-Christmas ascent should strike fear throughout the state of Manitoba. Think Ryan O’Reilly was happy not to attend Sabres locker clean-out moment? The Selke danger has watched everyone around him pick up the slack over the past three months. The defence seems mean, Vladimir Tarasenko rediscovered his touch, and if rookie Jordan Binnington can preserve his .927 save percent, seem out.
Stanley Cup odds: 14/1
6. Nashville Predators
Great on the Predators to get out-pacing the Jets down the stretch. Now the Central Division kings can hang another banner and dodge the bullet that is the third-seed Blues. It’s the exact same old story in Nashville: The defence is elite, the goaltending ought to be strong enough to win a round or 2, but the offence — ranked 19th general — is suspicious. Incredibly, Nashville rolls with the absolute worst power play in the NHL (12.9 percent ), and fresh men Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund (one goal apiece) haven’t provided an antidote. Considerable ambitions have been tempered by even more serious issues.
Stanley Cup chances: 12/1
7. Pittsburgh Penguins
I’ve learned long ago: Never bet against a Sidney Crosby team. Evgeni Malkin is healthful, Matt Murray hit his stride in the second half, and the Penguins’ power play and expertise are sufficient to make them a threat in any series. Yes, the Islanders carry more momentum to the championship, but the Penguins’ standing as a mini dynasty and continuing contender makes them an edge in power.
Stanley Cup chances: 16/1
8. New York Islanders
The Islanders would be the perfect example of a sum exceeding its components. Goals have been hard to uncover (228 complete, placing them 21st overall), and Barry Trotz’s team has bought into the concept that they all have to do is find the net once more compared to their opponent. As good of a benefit Nassau Coliseum may feel to be, the Isles actually registered the same amount of wins home and away (24). No one has studied Mike Sullivan’s game plans as intently as Trotz, so if his Jennings-winning goaltenders will keep it rolling, who knows how many chapters are left in this Cinderella story?
Stanley Cup odds: 20/1

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