By Adrian Dater | | 11 mins
Why Avalanche, Penguins Among 5 Best 2020 Stanley Cup Bets
The first puck won’t drop until probably late July or so. National Hockey League players normally would be well into their usual summer vacations by then, but there is nothing normal about life in 2020. Twenty-four NHL teams, if health conditions are sufficient, will instead battle it out in a reimagined playoff format in which some teams theoretically could play five rounds to win a Stanley Cup.
Teams can’t begin formal training camps until July 1 at the earliest, so there is still plenty of time for hockey NHL betting enthusiasts to pick and choose on which teams to lay a sawbuck or two.
We’ve poured through the newly-released NHL futures markets and found five teams we think you should seriously consider betting on, based on the current odds, to have success in the coming playoff format.
The Avalanche was in the upper half of teams that suffered the most man-games lost to injury before the March 12 shutdown, and just about all of their best players were on the shelf at one point during the season. Let’s not forget, too, that Colorado was one of two teams publicly named as having players (three) come down with the coronavirus.
While injury information is scarce even in normal times, it is believed all of the Avs are healthy and presumably available for a playoff starting in late July. The Avs got out to a 7-0-1 start to the regular season, but that’s when some key injuries started to happen.
If Colorado could get out to such a fast start with a healthy team before, why shouldn’t it again when the playoffs start? At +350 to win the Western Conference and +900 to win the Cup, Colorado should attract plenty of action on the betting apps. You’d be wise to
Again, a return to health is why I like the Penguins, maybe more than others, in a revised, late-summer playoff. The Pens were on a tear in the regular season but lost All-Star forward Jake Guentzel to a shoulder injury that most thought would keep him out for the rest of the season, playoffs included.
Guentzel, however, has recovered. He should be back on a line with Sidney Crosby for the playoffs. Evgeni Malkin remains the second-line center, and don’t forget about a big acquisition Pittsburgh made at the trade deadline (remember that?), getting Jason Zucker from Minnesota.
RELATED: Bookmark our NHL expert picks page for the best free picks once games resume
Pittsburgh has a goalie (Matt Murray) with two Stanley Cup rings already. True, Pittsburgh will have to play Montreal in a best-of-five play-in round, but, I like those odds.
St. Louis Blues
They remain the defending Stanley Cup champs, and now there is one more reason to like the Blues’ chances for a repeat: the return of Vladimir Tarasenko.
The Blues lost Tarasenko to another left shoulder injury in October but still managed to lead the Western Conference with 94 points at the time of the shutdown. They’ll have to play a round-robin against the other three top teams in the West (Colorado, Vegas, Dallas) to determine seeding, and his addition will certainly help the Blues’ chances of getting that top seed.
The loss of veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to a heart condition remains a concern. Some pundits are fading the Blues a bit (five other teams have more favorable odds to win the Cup), but that logic doesn’t seem sound. They are still one of the toughest teams to play against, with a goalie (Jordan Binnington) who showed last spring he has no fear in the biggest of games..
Get exclusive offers, expert picks and reviews
The Bruins were cruising along with the league’s best record at the time of the shutdown, and the worry is that they will have accumulated too much rust and loss of motivation by the time late July rolls around.
Those fears are valid, but probably overblown. True, some of Boston’s best players are getting up there in years, but they’ve all had the same amount of off time as everyone else. The Bruins are still angry at losing Game 7 of the Cup Finals to the Blues at home last year, so the motivation to redeem themselves should still be there.
, the Bruins are tied atop the favorites list to win the Cup with one other team, and that team is…
Tampa Bay Lightning
They were considered the lock of the century last year, after an all-time record-tying regular season of 62 wins. Then came the playoffs, a shocking first-round sweep at the hands of Columbus.There remains a lot to like about the Lightning’s chances to win a Cup this time. They had 11 players with 30 points or more, most of any team in the league. They had two separate 10-game winning streaks in the regular season.
Here’s another factor why I think you should lay some money down on the Lightning: I think the neutral-site playoff format will be good for this team. They maybe won’t get as jittery playing in front of their equally-as-nervous home fans, as they seemed last year.to win it all, that’s still a very attractive return for a very good team.