2011 NHL Betting PreviewIt doesn’t seem that long ago that the Boston Bruins, thanks to the hot goaltending of Tim Thomas, were hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup after upsetting the powerful Vancouver Canucks in game 7 of the Finals. Now the NHL returns and lets take a look at some of the contenders and their odds to win their conferences and the Stanley Cup courtesy of Bodog.
Vancouver Canucks (7/2 Western conference, 7/1 Stanley Cup)
After coming within one game of winning the franchise’s first ever Cup last year, the Canucks are loaded for a another run led by the Sedin Twins, Henrik and Daniel, Ryan Kesler. they had the best record in hockey last year to win the President’s trophy, but the Canucks and their fans won’t be happy with anything less than the Stanley Cup. The biggest chink in their armor could be goalie Roberto Luongo. Luongo sometimes plays like one of the best goalies in hockey and sometimes he is just awful. Think of Luongo as the NHL’s version of Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo. If the elite Luongo shows up during the playoffs, then Vancouver could celebrate their first ever Stanley Cup.
Washington Capitals (4/1 Eastern Conference, 7/1 Stanley Cup)
Washington led by superstar Alex Ovechkin has had the best record in the Eastern Conference for two years in a row, only to flame out in the first or second round of the playoffs each time. They have to break through eventually, as they have too much talent. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening this year. Another early exit seems likely for this tissue soft team.
Boston Bruins (11/2 EC, 10/1 Stanley Cup)
The Bruins won the Cup last year to give Boston championships in the four major sports in a 7 year span, something that had never been accomplished in such a short period of time. The Bruins are a tough gritty team with enough talent to prove last year’s run wasn’t a fluke, as many experts are saying. I see another deep run for this team.
Pittsburgh Penguins (9/2 EC, 10/1 SC)
The Penguin’s chances to win the Cup could be hurt by the uncertainty of superstar Sidney Crosby playing. He hasn’t played since January when he suffered a severe concussion, and won’t be ready for the start of the regular season either. There are rumors that the concussion could be career threatening, which would be a devastating blow to not only the Penguins but the entire league, as Crosby is one of the few household names to casual hockey fans. This is still a talented team even without Crosby, led by center Evgeni Malkin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins could make a deep run into the playoffs with or without Crosby, but obviously he makes them a much better team.
San Jose Sharks (11/2 WC, 10/1 SC)
The Sharks are like the Western Conference version of the Capitals. They always have a great record in the regular season and then lose in the playoffs. They have made it to the Western Conference finals the last 2 years only to lose. The Sharks acquired talented scorers Brent Burns and Martin Havlat to boost their chances of winning the elusive Stanley Cup. They have never even been to the Stanley Cup Finals. Who knows, maybe this will be the year the Sharks and Caps break through and meet in the Finals. Probably not though.
Philadelphia Flyers (5/1 EC, 11/1 SC)
The Flyers made it to the second round of the playoffs using 3 goalies, almost unheard of as most teams use just one goalie for the playoffs. Though they made it to the Stanley Cup finals the year before, the Flyers decided to upgrade their offense by adding RW Wayne Simmonds and future hall of famer Jaromir Jagr who played in Russia for the last 2 seasons. If the new players can fit together in the offense, then the Flyers have a chance to compete in the wide open East.
Chicago Blackhawks (13/2 WC, 12/1 SC)
The Blackhawks won the Cup two seasons ago, but battles injuries last year. They barely qualified for the playoffs as the 8th seed on the last day of the season last year. They took the Vancouver Canucks to 7 games before losing in overtime. If healthy, this team is very dangerous, and could make another deep run into the playoffs. There are some questions as the Blackhawks don’t really have a lot of depth on defense, and Patrick Kane moves from winger to center.
Detroit Red Wings (11/2 WC, 12/1 SC)
The veteran Red Wings just keep on chugging. You would think eventually they would have to rebuild but it never really happens. They keep winning division titles and making deep runs into the playoffs. Detroit will be hurt by the loss of Brian Rafalski who retired after last season, and Daniel Cleary was injured during the pre-season. The past two seasons, Detroit has run into a younger Sharks team in the second round of the playoffs and were crushed each time. The Wings can’t compete with the youth and quickness of the Canucks, Sharks, and Blackhawks, and could even be overtaken by the up and coming Kings, Ducks, and Predators.
Los Angeles Kings (6/1 WC, 14/1 SC)
The Kings have spent lots of money for what they hope is a run to the Stanley Cup. Though the young Kings have made the playoffs the last 2 seasons, they have been eliminated in the first round each time. The Kings added forward Mike Richards and are a nice dark horse pick to win the Cup. The Kings haven’t been relevant since Gretszky left the team in the mid 90′s, and take a backseat in Los Angeles to the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, Clippers, USC, UCLA and even the crosstown rival Ducks, who won the Stanley Cup a few seasons ago. A deep run in the playoffs could change that especially if the NBA misses significant time due to the lockout.
Buffalo Sabres (9/1 EC, 18/1 SC)
Buffalo will go as far as superstar goalie Ryan Miller can take them. The Sabres have never won the Cup before and would love to end that streak this season. They added several new pieces, and if they can form a cohesive unit, Buffalo could make a deep run in the playoffs.
Here are odds for the rest of the teams in the league to win the Stanley Cup: Tampa Bay Lightning (18/1), Anaheim Ducks (25/1), Montreal Canadiens (25/1), Nashville Predators (30/1), New Jersey Devils (30/1), New York Rangers (30/1), St. Louis Blues (35/1), Calgary Flames (40/1), Dallas Stars (40/1), Phoenix Coyotes (40/1), Carolina Hurricanes (45/1), Edmonton Oilers (50/1), Toronto Maple Leafs (50/1), Winnipeg Jets (60/1), Colorado Avalanche (65/1), Columbus Blue Jackets (75/1), Florida Panthers (75/1), Minnesota Wild (75/1), Ottawa Senators (75/1), and New York Islanders (80/1)
Here is my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final. The Vancouver Canucks win their first Stanley Cup as they beat the Buffalo Sabres in the Finals.
It should be a great season, and I look forward to the hockey action.
Check out our hockey odds page for real time line updates on every game throughout the season.