Recommended Stanley Cup Mid-range bets:
Pittsburgh Penguins 16/1 (+1600) - Click Here To Bet
Toronto Maple Leafs 30/1 (+3000) - Click Here To Bet
Carolina Hurricanes 45/1 (+4500) - Click Here To Bet
Last time out, I did a preview of three longshots that I thought were worth a shot.
Today, I’ll take a look at three teams that are going off at over 15-1 that I think can make some real noise as the playoffs get going.
I must preface the following by saying that as a New York Islanders fan, this hurt to write and I enjoyed no part of it. Two of these teams caused me tremendous pain between the time period of July 2018 and May 2019. The other team I’ve hated for most of my life. You can probably guess where I’m going with this.
Toronto Maple Leafs +3000
There might not be a better group of game-breaking offensive talent in hockey than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews (with his covid-19 antibodies), John Tavares (snake), Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly are all dynamic talents. Toronto is third in the league in goals/game averaging 3.39 goals a game. They are a top 10 team in percentage of shot attempts, scoring chances and high danger chances.
Last time out, we talked about how there is no way to predict whether these games will be conventional “play-off hockey” low-scoring games or whether they’ll be early season sloppy games. If it’s the latter, then Toronto is a team that can outscore basically any team in the league.
Frederik Andersen is an underrated goalie who doesn’t get much help from his defense. However, this year he only had a 90.9% save percentage when his career average is near 91.7%. If he regresses to his career average, that goaltending should be good enough to backstop this high powered offense.
Toronto did make a coaching change midway through the season. Sheldon Keefe replaced Mike Babcock. Toronto did improve initially, but they did seem to level out as the season went on.
Toronto was +950 to win the Stanley Cup before this season which shows the level of expectations there was on this team and it highlights their overall talent level. You can get them at 3 times that price now.
Carolina Hurricanes +4500
Carolina made the Eastern Conference finals last season. They were swept by Boston after sweeping a team that shall not be named the series prior to that. Nevertheless, this is a team that made a deep run last year and this year comes back with more experience.
The downside to the Hurricanes is their first round matchup. They struggled mightily against the New York Rangers during the season series, losing all 4 games against them. However, if they can get through New York, they have the opportunity to make noise.
Ever since advanced statistics and analytics became mainstream in the hockey community, the Carolina Hurricanes have been a darling. They are top 10 in every category, whether it’s Corsi, Fenwick, Scoring Chances, Expected Goals, or High Danger Chances. Their issue in the past has been a lack of high-end scoring and inconsistent goaltending. They are a bottom-6 team in 5on5 save percentage but in terms of goals-saved above average their duo of Mrazek and Reimer is average. In terms of high-end talent, they have 3 players with over 60 points in Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov. Their offensive ability has definitely increased over the years.
I was originally higher on Carolina due to the return of defenseman Dougie Hamilton, but it seems the star defenseman has injured himself again during training camp and will miss a few weeks. Nonetheless, in Carolina we have a team that almost always has the puck more than their opponent and has proven recently they can pull off impressive postseason runs.
Pittsburgh Penguins +1600
Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Jake Guentzel. Kris Letang. 2016 Stanley Cup Champions. 2017 Stanley Cup Champions.
If you had to pick a team that might benefit from a long layoff right before the Stanley Cup playoffs, you might pick a team that has a lot of tread on the tires. A lot of miles on the engine. A core that has gotten older together. A core that has made deep playoff runs and won championships together. The NHL will be playing in a bubble, and having Sidney Crosby as your leader should ensure that there is no shenanigans by the Penguins and that they are fully focused on the task at hand.
Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017. They then lost a grueling series to eventual champions Washington in 2018. In 2019, they got swept by the Islanders. In that series, you saw a team that looked more tired than the Islanders. A team that was a step slower.
Now, only playing four extra games last year, and this season getting an extra four months off to rejuvenate, the Penguins should have much fresher legs. The break also helped them get their top goal scorer back from injury. Jake Guentzel was originally expected to miss at least the beginning of the playoffs, if not the whole thing, if the season was never paused. Now, he’s fully recovered from shoulder surgery and will be in the line-up.
Pittsburgh, like they usually are, was a top 10 team in terms of expected goals and high danger chances. They have some of the best hockey players on the planet and they are always a threat to win the Cup. The goalie situation is interesting. Matt Murray came in as a rookie, stole the starting role from Penguins legend Marc-Andre Fleury, and won back-to-back Cups. Murray has struggled this season, stopping under 90% of shots he’s faced. Can the same be done to him by youngster Tristan Jarry, who’s definitely been the better goalie this season? We expect Murray to start, but his leash will be short. Nonetheless, Murray has shown he can turn his game up in the postseason, as has this whole Penguins team.