Lightning, Golden Knights enter All-Star Break atop Stanley Cup odds

Tampa-Bay-Lightning's-Nikita-Kucherov,-of-Russia,-is-congratulated-by-Mikhail-Sergachev,-right,-of-Russia,-after-scoring-during-the-third-period-of-an-NHL-hockey-game-against-the-St.-Louis-Blues-Tuesday,-Dec.-12,-2017,-in-St.-Louis.-The-Lightning-won-3-0.-(Jeff-Roberson/AP)

Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, is congratulated by Mikhail Sergachev, right, of Russia, after scoring during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in St. Louis. The Lightning won 3-0. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

It has become a two-team race atop the 2018 Stanley Cup odds entering the NHL All-Star break, with the Tampa Bay Lightning narrowly leading the surprise Vegas Golden Knights as +600 favourites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Tampa Bay has rebounded after failing to reach the playoffs last season for the first time in five years, and takes the NHL’s best record into Sunday’s All-Star Game at Amalie Arena.

The Lightning have been a model of consistency since opening the season as a +1000 bet on the NHL futures, suffering consecutive losses just once through their first 39 outings before struggling through a bumpy 2-4-1 run earlier this month, but ride a three-game win streak following Thursday’s 5-1 win in Philadelphia as -114 favourites.

The expansion Golden Knights’ historic start to their inaugural NHL campaign has lifted them to the top of the Western Conference standings, and vaulted them to a short +650 on the Stanley Cup odds, a massive leap from their position as +20000 longshots on opening night.

Vegas has emerged as the toughest place for visiting NHL teams to play this season. The Golden Knights racked up a league-best 19-2-2 record through their first 23 contests at T-Mobile Arena, and have emerged as the most profitable NHL bet since 2000.

Another surprise squad rounds out the front of the Stanley Cup betting lines, with the Boston Bruins arriving at the mid-point of the season sporting +800 odds.

The Bruins hit the break riding an impressive 18-game point streak that has lifted them into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division. With their 3-2 win in Ottawa as -175 favourites on Thursday night, Boston has now tallied 14 wins in its past 18 contests while avoiding a regulation loss during that stretch.

Further down the NHL futures board, the Nashville Predators hold steady at +1200, while the inconsistent Toronto Maple Leafs have slipped from the front of the pack to +1400. The Maple Leafs are joined by the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals.

Pegged as Stanley Cup favourites early in the campaign, the Maple Leafs have struggled with consistency in the last while, failing to win more than two in a row over their past 20 outings, and enter the break mired in third place in the Atlantic.

The Winnipeg Jets closely trail Toronto at +1600, well ahead of the Calgary Flames at +2200. Perched at +1000 on opening night, the Edmonton Oilers have tumbled to +4000, while the Ottawa Senators join the Montreal Canadiens at a distant +15000.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

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