As we edge towards the final quarter of the regular season in the NHL, thoughts are now increasingly turning towards the playoffs and the leading contenders for the Stanley Cup.
Last year’s Stanley Cup champions were the Washington Capitals, who beat new franchise debutants the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in games in last year’s Stanley Cup final.
There are realistic hopes of a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup this year. The most successful team in the Stanley Cup finals era, having won the trophy on 24 occasions, are the Montreal Canadiens, with the Toronto Maple Leafs being the next most successful team with 13 wins. Both teams are long overdue another win though, with the Canadiens last success being back in 1993, while the Maple Leafs last title was all the way back in 1967.
This season there are three strong Canadian contenders for the Stanley Cup, with the Maple Leafs, the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets all among the favourites for the trophy.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been the dominant force in the regular season and seem well on course to win the Presidents’ Trophy and the home-ice advantage that will give them so long as they are in the NHL playoffs.
A sign of the how far ahead of their peers the Lightning have been this season is that, at the time of writing, they have 13 points more than any other franchise. They also have the best Goals per Game average (3.80), the 6th best defensive record (allowing 2.77 Goals per Game), the best Power Play % (29.1) and the second-best Penalty Kill % (85.0). They also have the current leading points’ scorer for the season in Nikita Kucherov, while Brayden Point is a very reliable goalscorer. The Lightning is unquestionably very worthy Stanley Cup betting favourites.
In terms of the Canadian challenge, the Calgary Flames can count on goals from Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, all of whom have already scored well on an excess of 20 goals each this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs certainly have the roster to compete for the Stanley Cup and have an impressive form on the road this season. The Jets are generally fairly formidable opposition on home-ice and also have little problem in scoring (3.44 GPG).
The San Jose Sharks, the Nashville Predators, the Boston Bruins and the Capitals all have enough quality to challenge too (although, despite having the prolific goalscorer Alexander Ovechkin on their roster, the Capitals haven’t given much to suggest that they are capable of successfully defending their title in the regular season to date).
In terms of our Stanley Cup predictions, the Tampa Bay Lightning have to be the main tips for Stanley Cup 2019, given their NHL betting stats this season to date. The Maple Leafs have struggled for consistent form of late, but they could be a team to provide the main challenge to the Lightning.
It should come as no great surprise that the Lightning are the bookies favourites to win Stanley Cup 2019 in the current betting lines. However the fact that three of the fancied teams for the trophy are also Canadian is also highly encouraging.
Below are the Stanley Cup 2019 outright betting odds (best available odds of the leading contenders in the market at the time of writing)