With the NHL playoffs fast approaching, the first thing I would like to say is: If you took Vegas at the beginning of the season, congratulations. In August, the Golden Knights were at 200 to 1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, but things change mighty quickly.
Now, only 16 teams remain and the postseason begins on Wednesday. With that in mind, Vegas isn't the only surprising team this year. The Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets have exceeded expectations, as have the Flyers and Jets. It has been a fun season, and it's shaping up to be an exciting race for the Cup.
Here's a look at each team's projected odds to advance via SportsLine, not to mention their odds to win not only their conference, but also the Stanley Cup.
|EASTERN CONFERENCE||Round 1 advance %||Round 2 advance %||Win conference odds||Win conference sim %||Win Stanley Cup odds||Win Stanley Cup sim %|
|Philadelphia Flyers||8.6%||2%||20/1 (4.8%)||0.4%||40/1 (2.4%)||0.1%|
Columbus Blue Jackets
|WESTERN CONFERENCE||Round 1 advance %||Round 2 advance %||Win conference odds||Win conference sim %||Win Stanley Cup odds||Win Stanley Cup win %|
|Los Angeles Kings||21.6%||8.8%||9/1 (10%)||2.5%||20/1 (4.8%)||0.5%|
|Colorado Avalanche||6.3%||0.8%||15/1 (6.1%)||<0.5%||30/1 (3.2%)||<0.5%|
The number one takeaway: These playoffs are going to be absolutely wild. Even though the Lightning were the best team in the East, the Penguins are being given better odds. This could be for any number of reasons, but it's likely because of the Penguins' breadth of deep playoff experience. For that reason, the Penguins' odds only get better as you go further down the list.
Also up there in the top tier of oddsgetters, the Predators are 4/1 to win the Cup, but simulations don't even give them the best chance in their conference. The Golden Knights are simulations' favorite for a Stanley Cup in their inaugural season, in a prettty insane twist.
The closest Round 1 series in terms of percentages is Jets vs. Wild, which is a bit surprising, to say the least. With the Jets at 12/1 to win the West and 8/1 to win the Cup, you'd think the Jets would be expected to run away. That could be due to the Jets' sporadic scoring nature, but either way, it's hard to imagine the Wild pulling off that upset.
The Blue Jackets and Kings are being given a good shot to beat their respective division winners, after the Kings went 2-2 against the Golden Knights in the regular season and the Blue Jackets went 1-3 against the Capitals. With that being said, these two teams have a lot of firepower, and their wild-card matchups, while less than favorable, could have been far worse.
The Bruins are also close in simulations to the Maple Leafs, but they're still projected to come out on top. While their Stanley Cup odds are relatively slim, they've played the entire league tough this season. Don't expect that to change.
Finally, the Sharks are the one team projected to break up a chalk first round, as simulations favor them over the Ducks in the first round. The deadline addition of Evander Kane hasn't paid dividends yet, but if it's going to, the postseason is the best time for it to happen.
These two conferences are going to have some very interesting games in the first few rounds. Bruins-Maple Leafs and Ducks-Sharks are fascinating Round 1 matchups, while Kings-Golden Knights may be the start of a beautiful rivalry. The Battle of Pennsylvania is also compelling, as the Penguins try to get past the Flyers to advance their title defense.
If Vegas does manage to win in its first season, it may be one of the best underdog stories in NHL history.