The Washington Capitals are well on their way to winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the third time in eight years, but that will not mean a thing if they are not hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The Capitals (42-13-7) are three points ahead of the Minnesota Wild (41-14-6) for the NHL’s best record right now, and they are listed as the +500 favorites (bet $100 to win $500) on the odds to win the Stanley Cup in June.
Washington also finished with a league-best 120 points last season but fell to the eventual league champion Pittsburgh Penguins (38-16-8) in a six-game second-round playoff series. The Penguins are seven points behind the Caps in the race for the Metropolitan Division title after losing 4-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks (40-18-5) on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh is +1000 to repeat while Chicago is +550 along with Minnesota as the two teams with the best records in the Western Conference.
The Wild have been eliminated by the Blackhawks in the postseason three of the past four years, although this looks to be their best campaign ever. Minnesota is hoping to hold off Chicago for its first Central Division title, and the teams would not meet until the second round of the playoffs if they each advance past the first as expected.
The Wild picked up center Martin Hanzal (16 goals and 12 assists) from the Arizona Coyotes in a trade that signaled they are all in this year. But the Blackhawks also got stronger defensively when they got their former two-time Cup winner Johnny Oduya back from the Dallas Stars.
Both are players who will play key roles, and Washington also acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as a difference-maker before the deadline.
The San Jose Sharks (37-18-7) made it to the Stanley Cup final for the first time last season where they lost to the Pens in six games, and they are tied as the fourth choice at +1000 to win their first Cup.
San Jose has a solid lead on the Edmonton Oilers (34-22-8) in the Pacific Division with the added benefit of not having to face Minnesota or Chicago until the Western Conference final, if the team can get back there.
Edmonton is +2000 to win its first Stanley Cup since 1990 behind the Columbus Blue Jackets (39-16-6), New York Rangers (40-21-2) and Montreal Canadiens (35-21-8), who are all +1400. The Oilers are trying to make the postseason after a 10-year absence with phenom Connor McDavid leading the way, and they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in the 2006 Stanley Cup final the last time they made the playoffs.