Since the 2004/2005 NHL Lock out, parity was introduced which made the league more competitive for all 30 NHL hockey teams to win the Stanley Cup. In fact, if you look at the past Stanley cup winners, who would have given the Carolina Hurricanes or the Anaheim Ducks a look under the old salary cap system?
Past 5 Stanley Cup Finals
2006: Carolina Hurricanes (2nd) (Ward) over Edmonton Oilers (8th) 4-3
2007: Anaheim Ducks (2nd) (Giguere) over Ottawa (4th) 4Ė1
2008: Detroit Red Wings (1st) (Osgood) over Pittsburgh Penguins (2nd) 4Ė2
2009: Pittsburgh Penguins (4th) (Fleury) over Detroit Red Wings (2nd) 4Ė3
2010: Chicago Blackhawks (2nd) (Niemi) over Philadelphia Flyers (7th) 4Ė2
You can make an argument on why each team won the cup during those past years; goaltending, defense or even perhaps team youth. However, itís imperative you have a hot goaltender going into the spring tournament, because without goaltending, it can take one or two shaky goals during a close game to bring down team confidence and next thing you know, they are teeing it up on the golf course.
Should you consider the overall standings now, when handicapping futures odds on who will win the NHL Stanley cup? Well, itís only January, but when looking at each Stanley Cup matchup above from the past 5 seasons, you will notice every Stanley Cup winners were either ranked in the Top 4 of their conference standings, with the number one and two seeds being a lock to win the Stanley Cup. Parity has given the underdog a shot to go to the Stanley Cup, but to actually win it, is another story!
The NHL All Star break is upon us, which gives me a chance to review the current Stanley Cup odds on who will win the Stanley Cup this season. Furthermore, Iíve come up with 4 Stanley cup picks Iím going to recommend to you, and itís your prerogative to put a few bucks on them, so you have a good chance to hedge your bet should one of our picks come through.
Ron Raymondís Stanley Cup Picks
*Note: You can bet these picks at Bodog.ca
Philadelphia Flyers (6:1 odds): The Flyers have the Chris Pronger factor, because when you look at the past five Stanley Cup finals, Chris Pronger was playing in three of those games and winning it with the Ducks in 2007. However, like every Stanley Cup preview on the Flyers the question seems to be; ďWill goaltending be their Achilles heals again this season?Ē but they have the X Factor with Sergei Bobrovksy. The Flyers might have the most depth at the forwards position and when players like Claude Giroux and Mike Richards are on their game, they are untouchable in my view. Plus, with the support the Flyer fans give their team, they will have the house rocking every game and the energy they bring to their players, unmatched by other buildings in the league with maybe the exception of Montreal and Chicago.
Detroit Red Wings (8:1 odds): I have a saying in life, if you have a great atmosphere in your work place, the reason must be because you have a great boss! Leadership breeds success and when you have a great leader, players will play hard for that person. Detroitís head coach Mike Babcock has brought the Red Wings to two Stanley Cup finals since the lockout and won the Cup in 2008. In my view, the Red Wings have all the talent and leadership on the ice to win the Stanley Cup, but itís a kidís game now and should the Red Wings get involved in long series in the first two rounds, they will have old tired legs for the drive stretch. History tells us not to count out the Red Wings!
Dallas Stars (18:1 odds): Now we are getting into our middle of the pack long shot prediction and this is where the intangibles play a role in winning your bet. The Dallas Stars are currently sitting 3rd in the Western Conference standings and in first place in the Pacific division. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen has been the key factor to their mid-season success and Marc Crawford can be considered the early leader for the Jack Adams coach of the year award. Furthermore, acquiring Jamie Lagenbrunner was a brilliant move from Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk and should they get seek defensive help at the blue line come the Trade deadline, which in my view could improve their chances of winning the cup. 18 to 1 odds is a great line which can give us some good hedging opportunities should they get in the 3rd to 4th round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Like the old saying goes ďShoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the Stars.Ē 18 to 1, yes, itís worth a shot!
Atlanta Thrashers (40:1 odds): The Atlanta Thrashers were perhaps the comeback story at the beginning of the season, especially during that stretch when they won 5 games in a row and 6 of 7 games from October 23rd to November 6th. However, theyíve hit a few snags along the way, but they are clawing their way back in the playoff picture and are currently sitting in 8th position. The Thrashers are being outshot most games, but Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec has been brilliant and given his team a chance to win most nights and could wreak havoc in the playoffs if a team over looks the Thrashers should they make it. Hereís the thing with the 40/1 odds on Atlanta, itís not a given they will make the playoffs, but thatís the risk we take at 40 to 1 and should they squeeze in, they have the ingredients of a playoff tournament team who will grind out each game. Playoff hockey is about hot goaltending and teams who have a bit of sand paper and arenít afraid to grind it out. Plus, Atlanta has those kinds of players in Byfuglien, Stewart, Ladd and tough guy Eric Boulton. If Atlanta Thrashers General Manager Don Waddell can somehow pick up some veteran leadership or a few key guys that are known to play well during the playoffs, they could be the Oilers of the 2005/2006 season. Here are some names Waddell should inquire at the trade deadline to help his club: Chris Phillips, Shane Doan, Ray Whitney, Shawn Horcoff or Mike Fischer. Any of these players would be a great pick up for Waddell and could help his team win down the stretch and lock up that 7th or 8th playoff spot.
2011 Stanley Cup Playoff Odds
Current Odds courtesy of Bodog.ca
Odds to win the 2011 Eastern Conference
Atlanta Thrashers 18/1
Boston Bruins 13/2
Buffalo Sabres 40/1
Carolina Hurricanes 28/1
Florida Panthers 75/1
Montreal Canadiens 15/1
New Jersey Devils 90/1
New York Islanders 200/1
New York Rangers 14/1
Ottawa Senators 90/1
Philadelphia Flyers 3/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 5/2
Tampa Bay Lightning 13/2
Toronto Maple Leafs 80/1
Washington Capitals 9/2
Odds to win the 2011 Western Conference
*Ron Raymond is a professional sports handicapper located in Ottawa, Ontario Canada and has been involved in the sports handicapping industry since 1996 and is one of the original pioneers.