A tight five-way race atop the Stanley Cup odds continues as the NHL enters this weekend’s All-Star break, with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals leading the way as +800 co-favourites on the betting futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
After stumbling through the early weeks of the campaign the Lightning have turned things around since Christmas, posting wins in 12 of 14 contests to close the gap on the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins to eight points with three games in hand. Tampa Bay’s recent strong play is reminiscent of last season, which they closed out with a league-best 62 wins and 128 points.
However, playoff success has eluded the Lightning in recent years. The club made a stunning early exit from the postseason last spring, swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and has fallen in defeat in three of four conference final appearances since 2011.
The Capitals enter the All-Star break riding a three-game win streak that leaves them with a league-best 71 points, and have built their success to date on the NHL’s best road record, going 18-6-1 in 25 dates away from Capital One Arena.
A trio of teams closely trail the favourites at +900 on the Stanley Cup odds at online betting sites, with the Bruins, St. Louis Blues, and Pittsburgh Penguins all at that line. The Colorado Avalanche sit just behind that group at +1000.
Boston remains among the favourites despite a lengthy slump that has seen the team lose 14 of 23 contests since Dec. 3. The Bruins have managed to pad their point total thanks to 12 losses in overtime or the shootout, and continue to struggle from a lack of consistent secondary scoring, but remain -180 favourites to claim this season’s Atlantic Division crown.
The defending champion Blues have maintained a steady presence atop the Central Division standings, but have struggled on the road of late, losing four in a row and six of their past nine. With Sidney Crosby back from injury, the Penguins have continued to roll, winning 17 of 23 since the beginning of December to improve their league-leading win total on home ice to 18.
Meanwhile, with just one win in their past six contests, the Toronto Maple Leafs have slipped out of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference, and have seen their Stanley Cup odds fall to +1500.
The Vancouver Canucks enter the break in first place in the Pacific Division and sporting +2000 Stanley Cup futures, just ahead of the Edmonton Oilers at +2200 and the Calgary Flames at +2800. The Winnipeg Jets have dipped to +4000 on those NHL odds, while the Montreal Canadiens trail at +15000, and the Ottawa Senators sit at a distant +50000.