No matter what happens in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, somebody's going to defy the odds. If you'd have taken a poll of NHL players, coaches, reporters and fans after the close of last season and asked whether the Washington Capitals could face off with the Vegas Golden Knights for a championship, they'd have asked whether the poll was a joke. 

The Capitals, after all, are a year removed from just one of countless second-round stinkers they've racked up over two decades of tantalizing but ultimately disappointing hockey. And the Golden Knights just plain didn't exist until this season, compiling castoffs from the other 30 teams and proceeding to unleash one of the greatest inaugural campaigns in league history.

But that's where we are at the culmination of the NHL season, meaning one of two unbelievable contenders is guaranteed the surrealism of a title.

The opening odds -- and simulations -- of the Capitals vs. Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final are reflective of that. Because while oddsmakers have an obvious early favorite, series simulations seem to favor the other side

Here's a breakdown, with numbers provided by SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh:


  1. Golden Knights (-160)
  2. Capitals (+140)


  1. Capitals (53.8%)
  2. Golden Knights (46.2%)

That means that while Vegas is a favorite in Vegas, series simulations are strongly projecting a Capitals championship.

"Back on April 9, the highest value in the East was Washington with a 14-percent chance at 14/1, and the best value in the West was Vegas with an 18-percent chance at 10/1," Oh says. "So both teams came through for anyone who took up the computer's advice."

Now, the computers are advising more Washington wins, even if the odds say otherwise.