With several of the top teams knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, the Boston Bruins have emerged as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins downed Toronto in their opening round match.
The Bruins were installed as the 4/1 favorite after three teams that were ahead of them before the playoffs began, made early exits. The most surprising of the first-round defeats was Tampa Bay. The Lightning were the overwhelming 2/1 pick to win the Stanley Cup, but were swept by Columbus in a shocking series, where Tampa Bay was outscored 19-8.
The Blue Jackets will now try and pull off their second upset, facing the Bruins in the second round. Columbus is 7/1 to win the Cup. They are also a +125 to down the Bruins, who are -145 to win.
Boston forward Sean Kuraly said they are well aware of how strong Columbus is playing right now.
“They’re probably one of the hottest teams in the league right now after taking down Tampa.” Kuraly said. “You can see from 5,000 fans at practice it’s a heck of an atmosphere there, and they’re playing really well.”
San Jose Knows Way
The San Jose Sharks, fresh off their Game 7 overtime victory at home against the Vegas Golden Knights, are the next pick at 5/1. The Sharks began the playoffs at 11/1, but benefitted from Calgary’s loss to Colorado. The Flames won the opener at home, then proceeded to lose the next four, including an embarrassing 5-1 defeat at home in Game 5.
The Sharks are now pegged as the top team in the Western Conference. They are 5/1 to win the Cup, and 2/1 to win the Western Conference. They now take on the Avalanche and hope a similar fate that Calgary suffered doesn’t happen to them.
Colorado coach Jared Bednar told the Denver Post that he likes how his team is performing in the postseason.
“Playoffs is a different scenario, right?” Bednar said. “You start over from scratch and it’s best-of-seven and there’s adjustments to be made in the middle of the series. Our goal will be to go in there and have a real good start and pick up where we left off against Calgary.”
But Bednar knows that his team won’t be able to sneak up on the Sharks like they did with the Flames. The first game is Friday in San Jose, and the Avs are +130 underdogs.
“Real good team. Hundred-point team,” Bednar said. “Big, strong, fast, lots of shooters, mobile D-corps. They’re getting the goaltending now. They’re a tough team, no question, and they’ve given us trouble all year.”
Capitals Can’t Defend
Defending champion Washington joined the team they beat in last year’s finals, getting ousted in Game 7 by Carolina. Both the Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights will not return to the finals.
Washington was a -145 pick to defeat the Hurricanes but fell to the underdog on Wednesday in double overtime.
Carolina’s Justin Williams said the team is embracing the belief that no one thinks they can win.
“We became relevant again this year,” Williams said. “This is just another step. It’s wide-open for us.”