Though a low seed has not won a Stanley Cup in over ten years, underdogs have still been able to make it to the finals, most recently the Edmonton Oilers as an eight seed in the 2005-2006 season.
This week I will divide the teams into four groups, and select one team from each group as having the best value.
The Favourites: San Jose, Detroit, Boston, Washington, New Jersey
Ari’s Pick: Boston (+700)
I don’t think Boston is the team most likely to win the Stanley Cup, but I prefer their odds to the odds on the San Jose Sharks (+400) the team I think is most likely to win the Cup. Detroit and Washington have issues in net, and New Jersey is slumping at the wrong time. The Bruins, like the Sharks, are a complete team and will probably have an easier road to the Cup than their Western Conference opponents.
The Second-Tier: Calgary, Chicago, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Carolina, Pittsburgh
Ari’s Pick: Carolina (+2500)
The Canes have been on a tear. They have won 9 in a row, including a 9 goal outburst against the hapless Islanders in their last game. The Canes are getting solid offensive production and excellent goaltending from Cam Ward. The Canes’ recent play, and the fact they have the highest odds of all the teams in this group, make them the best value.
Teams the Favourites Want to Avoid: Columbus, Anaheim
Ari’s Pick: Anaheim (+4500)
Between Columbus at +4000 and Anaheim at +4500 I prefer Anaheim. They are hot at the right time and one of the most physical teams in the league. Their physical play could be a problem for the Red Wings or Canucks over a seven game series. They also have excellent depth at forward and defense and will be aided by the return of Francois Beauchemin, originally thought to be gone for the season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery earlier this season.
The Longshots: Montreal, New York Rangers, Florida, Buffalo, St. Louis, Nashville, Minnesota
Ari’s Pick: St. Louis (+8000)
While I doubt any of these teams will advance past the first round, the team with the best chance is probably the New York Rangers, but they are only available at +5000. St. Louis has a young, confident team and they have played well. Despite numerous injuries and a mid-season goaltending change, the Blues control their own destiny to make the post-season. From there, anything can happen, but probably won’t.
Who do you think is the best bet out of these four categories?