There’s less than one month left of the NHL regular season with each team scheduled to play fewer than ten more games. Despite many playoff places yet to be decided, there is one thing that’s certain: the Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the league.
At the 71-game mark, the Bolts sat way atop the overall standings with 112 points and an almighty goal difference of +90, placing them 17 points ahead of their next closest competitor, per washingtonpost.com. So, with the Lightning being so dominant and the heavy favourites to win the Stanley Cup, what’s the point in betting on any other team?
The Bolts will meet a Western team
Back on for the second!
— x – Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 17, 2019
Any NHL fan will tell you that the Tampa Bay Lightning have the best team in the league and are playing the best ice hockey. They continue to go from strength-to-strength with their non-superstar players having as much of a part as the likes of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Victor Hedman. The team is incredibly deep and destined for the Stanley Cup Finals.
At odds of 9/4 to win the Cup, the Lightning are still a viable option in the outright betting. Given their overwhelming strength, it’s tough to see any other Eastern Conference team making to past them to get to the Finals. But, in the Finals, the Lightning will have to face a Western Conference team.
There are some very good teams in the Western Conference who could cause the Bolts some problems across a seven-game series, but the best way to take advantage of the odds is by going each-way. As it stands, the San Jose Sharks are at 7/1, the Calgary Flames are at 8/1, the Vegas Golden Knights are at 12/1, and the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets are at 14/1, with moplay.co.uk offering half-odds for each-way bets.
So, if you back any of these teams each-way, they make it to the final but lose, you’ll still get a return at half the odds, putting predicting the finalist from the Western Conference at longer odds than if you were to back the Lightning to win it all.
Which Western team will make it to the Finals?
Buckle up. Third period starting now!
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 17, 2019
For much of the season, the Central looked to be the stronger of the two Western Conference divisions, with the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators playing consistently well and winning games. Both of these juggernauts have cooled down as the end of the season has crept in, but both made significant trade deadline deals to improve the team.
The Jets added Kevin Hayes to become their second line centre, which was one of the strongest moves of the deadline, while the Predators added the likes of Wayne Simmonds, Brian Boyle, and Mikael Granlund to attempt to improve their woeful powerplay numbers, as shown by thehockeywriters.com.
Right now, however, the two teams that are tussling for the top of the Pacific Division look to be the top contenders for a place in the Finals. The San Jose Sharks are wisely being tentative with the return of superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson, per yahoo.com, but have still been notching wins. The Flames continue to be streaky but incredibly dangerous nonetheless.
Postseason experience and general team experience gives the Sharks the nod over the Flames, who may be incredibly talented and exciting, but could burn out early as other teams of their ilk have done in a long-awaited return to the playoffs.
Anything can happen in the playoffs, regardless of the quality of the team, but in the Western Conference, as it stands, the Predators and Sharks look to be the ones to battle in the Conference Finals to get into the Stanley Cup Finals.