St. Louis Blues Odds to Repeat as Stanley Cup Champs Long
You know you’ve got it tough when you’ve just won a Stanley Cup and the oddsmakers say that you won’t win your division the following season.
Such is life in the NHL’s Central Division, where the defending Cup champion St. Louis Blues are listed as the fourth-best bet to win the division according to 888sport’s early NHL futures odds. The Blues are +375 to win the Central, with Dallas (+325), Colorado and Nashville (+350) ahead of them.
This is likely to be a common theme with the Blues all season, a “prove it wasn’t a fluke” theme.
There remains the feeling among some pundits that the Blues pulled a rabbit out of the hat to win their first Cup ever and that their championship reign will be one-and-done.
On top of that, we've speculated that NHL futures will be a lot harder to predict in general next season.
Binnington Must Prove He Wasn’t a Fluke
Probably the player with the most to prove to the skeptics is goalie Jordan Binnington. A journeyman minor-leaguer until last season, Binnington was a call-up who proceeded to shock the world all the way through June.
History is littered with a lot of flash-in-the-pan goalies, though. Remember names such as Roman Turek, Patrick Lalime, Andrew Hammond, Andrew Raycroft, Jim Carey, Martin Gerber and Jonas Hiller?
All at one time were considered the next big thing among goalies, only to mostly never to be heard from again soon after.
Binnington signed a two-year deal with the Blues at an average of $4.4 million per season, and he will enter training camp as their No. 1 netminder - something that’s never been the case before in his career.
How he handles a “prove it to us again” season will say a lot about his character and ability.
He and the Blues won’t be able to just sneak up on teams like they might have done last season. Being the defending Cup champ means everybody is going to be sky high to play you every night and use games against you as a benchmark.
Forward Group Should Get Blues Into Postseason Again
There was very little change to the Blues’ roster that defied the odds in 2019 over the offseason. This is going to mostly be the same club that won the Cup that suits up on opening night, it looks like.
That should be a good thing, but you worry about complacency and the dreaded Stanley Cup Hangover. Only two teams (Detroit, 1997 and 1998 and Pittsburgh from 2016-17) have accomplished the feat in the last 27 years.
But the Blues should get back into the postseason. On the question of “Take make to the playoffs?” the Blues are -265 on “yes” at 888sport. Their forward lines are what should make the difference.
As we saw in the playoffs, the Blues won because they were able to roll four lines with players who all seemed to know their roles.
The Blues could play high-tempo, skilled hockey at times, with guys such as Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, or they could be physical and grind in the corners. Ryan O’Reilly is the ultimate hybrid of both styles, and he’s fresh off his Conn Smythe performance of the spring.
Cup Repeat Odds Against Them
So while the Blues should get into the postseason again, bookmakers don’t like their odds of taking home another Cup. Ten other teams have even or better odds to win the Stanley Cup right now at 888sport. That includes the three teams from the Central we’ve already mentioned.
There is just way too much parity in the NHL to believe any one team will be dominant. Even teams like the Blues' division rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, have an opportunity to rebound and prove the bookies wrong.
The Blues proved the “any team can win it once they’re in the playoffs” angle last spring. There are 30 other teams who probably think they can be the next St. Louis Blues next spring.
That’s what makes the Cup the hardest trophy in sports to win - and what makes the NHL playoffs so fun and hard to predict.