NHL Playoffs: Upsets In The Making
- 01Can the Tampa Bay Lightning fail?
- 02Isles Push Penguins To Brink
- 03Blues Traveling Well
- 04Better The Second Time Around for Vegas Golden Knights
Can the Tampa Bay Lightning fail?
Last spring, the Columbus Blue Jackets opened a 2-0 lead over the favored Washington Capitals by winning two games on the road. But they came home and collapsed, and ended up losing four in a row to drop the series in six games. While the Blue Jackets went home for the summer, the Capitals went on to win the Stanley Cup. So when Columbus jumped to a 2-0 advantage on the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NHL's best regular-season team and the overwhelming choice in NHL futures betting, people adopted a wait-and-see approach.
But what they saw was the Blue Jackets also win Game 3 to take a strangehold on the series. The Blue Jackets have allowed fewer than three goals in a playoff game only twice in their history, both against the Lightning, who this season were the highest-scoring team in the regular-season in 23 years.
It's only the second time in Stanley Cup history that a Presidents' Trophy-winning team has opened the playoffs with three successive losses. In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings grabbed a 3-0 lead against the Vancouver Canucks. The Kings sent the Canucks packing in five games, and while Vancouver went home for the summer, the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, the same mission the Blue Jackets seek to complete. Columbus is +2500 to win the Stanley Cup.
Some other Stanley Cup first-round points of interest:
- The New York Islanders lead the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0
- It's the first time the Blue Jackets have won three playoff games in the same season
- The Lightning didn't lose three games in a row through 82 regular-season games
- The Blues won two at Winnipeg to open their series. St. Louis is 3-0 all-time when starting a series 2-0 on the road
- Home and away teams have divided the first-round games 10-10
Isles Push Penguins To Brink
Traditionally, the New York Islanders have owned the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they've never dominated the Pens in this manner before. The Isles won all three previous series from the Penguins, but went the distance to take each one. In 1993, the Isles worked overtime in Game 7 to dethrone the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in a second-round series. A five-game first-round series went to the Islanders in 1982 en route to a Stanley Cup win by them.
In the 1975 quarterfinals, the Islanders rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Penguins in seven games. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in 2015-16 and 2016-17. The Islanders haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1982-83. They certainly weren't given much chance of doing so this season after losing leading scorer John Tavares to Toronto in free agency. The Isles opened at +6000 at Bovada in NHL Stanley Cup odds but had dropped to +2000 by the start of the playoffs.
Blues Traveling Well
St. Louis was idling in the NHL basement on Nov. 19. The Blues' odds of making the NHL playoffs were remote at best. Coach Mike Yeo was fired and replaced by Craig Berube. From Nov. 21 through the end of the regular season, the Blues went 38-19-5, the second-best record in the NHL. Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington posted a 24-5 record.
And they've carried on at the same pace so far in the playoffs. The Blues were the only Western Conference team to open up the playoffs 2-0, winning twice on the road at Winnipeg against the Jets, a Western Conference finalist last spring. The Blues dropped from +4000 down to +1200 in NHL futures odds by the start of the playoffs. Bovada now as the Blues as the second betting choice to win the Western Conference at +325.
Only the Calgary Flames (+200) are given a better shot than St. Louis of winning the West. The Flames topped the Western Conference regular-season standings. St. Louis has never won the Stanley Cup. The Blues most recently played in the Stanley Cup final in 1969-70.
Better The Second Time Around for Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights were the Cinderella story of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, rolling all the way to the Cup final as a first-year expansion team, joining the Blues as the only NHL teams to do so. Now, the teams the Golden Knights seek to emulate are the 1925-26 Montreal Maroons and the 1927-28 New York Rangers. Both of those clubs won the Stanley Cup as second-year expansion franchises.
The Golden Knights just might be a better team the second time around. Since last season they've added Paul Stastny, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty to give the club a second scoring line to complement the top unit of William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault. They still have three-time Stanley Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury situated between the pipes.
Vegas opened the season at odds of +1000 to win the Stanley Cup. Those odds have actually grown to +1400, so you can get a very good price on a team that has enjoyed a successful, albeit brief Stanley Cup run of success. The West looks to be a wide open race but the Golden Knights are as good a choice as any team.
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