We’re just one month into the 2017-18 NHL season, and there’s already been no shortage of surprises.
Raise your hand if you expected that the injury-decimated Blues and these other three teams would be atop the Western Conference standings through four weeks of action:
The Edmonton Oilers can’t buy a goal, the Pittsburgh Penguins have already lost three games by six goals or more, and the Ottawa Senators, Vegas Golden Knights and New Jersey Devils are among the five highest-scoring teams in the league.
With all of these unexpected things happening over the first month of the NHL season, you’d think the 2018 Stanley Cup odds have seen some major changes from opening night as well. And you’d be right.
2018 Stanley Cup Odds One Month Into The Season
The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the year favoured to win their third straight Stanley Cup championship, but a 9-7-3 start out of the gate has the Penguins dropped down to fourth on Bet365’s latest 2018 Stanley Cup futures.
Tampa Bay, however, is more than living up to its high preseason billing. The Lightning, which was tied for second on the 2018 Stanley Cup odds one month ago, has seen its +1200 odds sliced in half after posting a blistering 14-2-2 record in its first 18 outings.
The surprising St. Louis Blues and young Toronto Maple Leafs are tied for second on the latest odds at +900 apiece, and the Leafs were listed as 2018 Stanley Cup favourites just a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s a look at each team’s 2018 Stanley Cup odds at Bet365 as of Monday, Nov. 13, with their 2018 Stanley Cup odds at the start of the season in parentheses behind them.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: +600 (+1200)
- St. Louis Blues: +900 (+3000)
- Toronto Maple Leafs: +900 (+1400)
- Pittsburgh Penguins: +1200 (+600)
- Los Angeles Kings: +1300 (+2000)
- Columbus Blue Jackets: +1400 (+2500)
- New Jersey Devils: +1600 (+20000)
- Nashville Predators: +1800 (+1400)
- Winnipeg Jets: +1800 (+5000)
- San Jose Sharks: +1800 (+2000)
- Washington Capitals: +1800 (+1200)
- Ottawa Senators: +2000 (+3000)
- Dallas Stars: +2200 (+1400)
- New York Rangers: +2200 (+1600)
- New York Islanders: +2200 (+5000)
- Calgary Flames: +2500 (+3000)
- Edmonton Oilers: +2500 (+900)
- Chicago Blackhawks: +2800 (+1200)
- Anaheim Ducks: +2800 (+1400)
- Minnesota Wild: +2800 (+1200)
- Philadelphia Flyers: +3300 (+5000)
- Montreal Canadiens: +3300 (+1600)
- Vancouver Canucks: +3300 (+20000)
- Detroit Red Wings: +4000 (20000)
- Boston Bruins: +4000 (+3000)
- Carolina Hurricanes: +4000 (+6000)
- Colorado Avalanche: +4500 (+10000)
- Vegas Golden Knights: +5000 (+20000)
- Buffalo Sabres: +10000 (+6000)
- Florida Panthers: +10000 (+4000)
- Arizona Coyotes: +10000 (+20000)
Biggest Improvements On The 2018 Stanley Cup Odds
Let’s take a closer look at five teams who have seen their 2018 Stanley Cup odds improve the most through one month of action (with honourable mentions to the Canucks and Red Wings, both of whom have gone from +20000 to +4000 or less.)
1. New Jersey Devils (+1600)
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 13, 2017
In previous years, when the Devils fell behind a few goals like they did Sunday in Chicago (trailing 4-1 in the first period), it was time to change the channel. New Jersey’s offence has consistently ranked near the bottom of the NHL for decades, even dating back to their days as perennial Stanley Cup contenders in the 1990s and early 2000s.
But these Devils can score goals. After rallying from that 4-1 deficit Sunday to prevail 7-5, New Jersey ranks fifth in the NHL in goals per game (3.5). They’re 3-3 this year when trailing after two periods, compared to their 6-33-3 record when trailing after 40 minutes last year.
New Jersey isn’t just fattening up its record by getting lucky in overtime or shootouts (they’re 3-2 beyond regulation time) or by beating up on poor teams. Among the Devils’ victims so far this year have been the Maple Leafs, Lightning, Senators (twice), Rangers and Blackhawks.
Oddsmakers are putting plenty of stock in New Jersey’s hot start, dropping the Devils from +20000 to +1600 on the 2018 Stanley Cup odds and making them co-favourites to win the tough Metropolitan Division (+400). We probably should, too.
2. St. Louis Blues (+900)
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) November 8, 2017
Weren’t the Blues supposed to struggle without the likes of Jay Bouwmeester, Alexander Steen, Patrick Berglund and Robby Fabbri to start the season. The Hockey News certainly thought so, suggesting that the rash of injuries “could make for an awfully long season in St. Louis”, and it was pretty hard to disagree.
Instead, the Blues have simply picked up where they left off last season. After opening the 2017-18 season with a 13-4-1 record in its first 18 games, St. Louis is 35-12-3 in regular-season play since Mike Yeo took over as head coach from Ken Hitchcock in February.
Unlike New Jersey, the Blues are doing it with defence. They’re third in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.4) and seventh in shots against (30.6). Even after a 5-2 loss at home to the Islanders on Saturday, St. Louis has limited its opponents to two regulation time goals or less in 13 of its last 17 games.
With a six-point bulge already atop the Central Division and with the Stars, Wild and Blackhawks off to mediocre starts, the Blues are nearly even-money favourites (+135) at Bet365 to finish first in their division. Once their injured stars make their return to the lineup, those odds could plummet even more.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (+5000)
Key To The Game Was: Score more goals than the other team.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 11, 2017
No one in their right mind expects the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup, even after Vegas has earned points in 11 of its first 16 games in franchise history.
But oddsmakers have had to slash the Knights’ 2018 Stanley Cup odds by 75% (from +20000 to +5000) because the playoffs are looking like a very real possibility. Once you’re in the playoffs, like Nashville showed us last year, anything can happen.
With talented offensive players like James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault, a respected veteran alternate captain like David Perron and a former Stanley Cup-winning netminder in Marc-Andre Fleury, the Golden Knights aren’t the typical NHL expansion team.
Head coach Gerard Gallant has them playing hard every night, and players on that roster are motivated by being considered expendable by their former clubs. Just imagine what this team might be capable of doing once they get their #1 (or #2 or #3) goaltenders back.
4. Winnipeg Jets (+1800)
— Hockey Reference (@hockey_ref) November 7, 2017
Don’t look now, but the Jets are actually playing some pretty good defensive hockey. A 4-1 win Saturday over the punchless Arizona Coyotes marked the seventh time in nine games that the Jets allowed two goals or less.
The key to the Jets’ 9-4-3 start has been the play of third-year netminder Connor Hellebuyck, who boasts a sparkling 8-1-2 record, 2.44 goals-against average and .926 save percentage through his first 12 games. But even opening-night starter Steve Mason is picking things up following an embarrassingly-bad start to the campaign, giving up just two regulation-time goals in his last two starts while stopping 70 of the last 72 shots he faced.
Sophomore sniper Patrik Laine got off to a slow start, but he is now starting to heat up with goals in five straight games. If he can improve on his impressive rookie numbers last year (36 goals in 73 games) and Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele continue to shine offensively (44 points combined in 32 games), the Jets should have more than enough offence to keep winning games, even if the defensive play slips a bit.
Bet365 currently ranks Winnipeg third on its Western Conference championship odds at +800, behind only the Blues (+440) and Los Angeles Kings (+525).
5. New York Islanders (+2200)
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 12, 2017
The Islanders recently went on a run in which they earned points in 10 of 14 games and scored at least four goals in seven of eight contests. But it also may have been a case of New York catching some of these opponents at opportune times, facing Arizona, the Rangers while they were struggling, Nashville on the second night of a back to back, the Avalanche, and Vegas playing with a fourth-string goaltender.
That theory was strengthened last week as the Islanders were humiliated 5-0 in Dallas, mustering just 14 shots and trailing 4-0 before the game was 27 minutes old. But New York impressively bounced back the next night in St. Louis, jumping out to a 3-0 first period lead and skating to a 5-2 win over the West-leading Blues.
Ultimately, as John Tavares goes, so will the Islanders. And Tavares is on pace for his best offensive season of his career, scoring 13 goals (including a pair of hat tricks in a three-game span) and adding six assists through 17 games.
Tavares and the Islanders will need to keep putting pucks in the net to overcome what looks like a pretty shaky duo in net, but they are also looking like legitimate playoff contenders again – especially with Metropolitan powerhouses Washington and Pittsburgh off to slow starts. Bet365 ranks the Isles at +450 to win the Metro, slightly behind co-favourites Columbus, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Washington (+400 each).
Which of these five teams has impressed you the most, or is the best Stanley Cup bet at their current odds? Let us know below.