2011 Stanley Cup Odds & NHL Power Rankings
Sixteen teams begin the quest for the Stanley Cup this season, but only one will be able to put its name on hockey’s most illustrious trophy. How would we value the rankings for the Stanley Cup odds this year? Check out our power rankings for the teams that are left standing in the dance…
1: Washington Capitals (+580): We know that Vancouver had the best team in the regular season all year long, but we just feel as though Washington’s road to the Stanley Cup might be a bit easier. This first task against the Rangers will be tough, but if the offense can survive the stout New York defense, the coast may be relatively clear, especially if Sidney Crosby never comes back for the Penguins.
2: Vancouver Canucks (+325): The Canucks were, without a doubt, the best team in the regular season this year. However, come playoff time, this team has had a history of choking, and save for the Olympics, Roberto Luongo has never been able to win the big time game when he needed it most. Still, in terms of talent, Vancouver is second to none, and it should be considered the most likely team to get out of the West.
3: Boston Bruins (+975): Goaltending wins championships. If that’s the case, the Bruins are going to be the team to beat. Tim Thomas should win the Vezina Trophy this season, as he put up the best year in terms of save percentage that a net minder has ever seen. Boston has a great draw with Montreal in Round 1, and it really might only have Washington standing in its way when push comes to shove to get to the Cup.
4: San Jose Sharks (+750): If there was to be a year that the Sharks made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, this would be it. The team got over its playoff bugaboo last year when it made it to the Western Conference Finals, and now, it has a Stanley Cup winning goaltender in the pipes in Antti Niemi. No one has an easier first round draw than do the Sharks.
5: Detroit Red Wings (+1000): Jimmy Howard is going to be the key here for the Red Wings. There isn’t a team that has more playoff experience or more years in the league than Detroit, and it’s going to be hard to beat this team when push comes to shove. However, Howard is a relatively inexperienced goalie, and he hasn’t really seen the big time yet with a deep Cup run. This could be Detroit’s demise this season.
6: Pittsburgh Penguins (+1100): This is purely speculative. If Sidney Crosby comes back into the fold at some point, the Pens are in great shape. However, if he never gets back on the ice, it’s going to be really hard to find stars to shine, especially against a Tampa Bay team that is just chock full of them.
7: Tampa Bay Lightning (+1800): The Bolts had a great year under first year Head Coach Guy Boucher, as they are definitely a tougher team now than they have been in years past. Dwayne Roloson knows what it’s like to come in off the streets and take a new team to the verge of the Stanley Cup, as he did so with the Edmonton Oilers several seasons ago. He’s got a much better team around him now in Tampa Bay than he did then, and if he comes up big, the Lightning could be legit Cup contenders.
8: Philadelphia Flyers (+840): We’re just not feeling the Flyers this year. They really didn’t play well down the stretch, and they coughed up a huge lead for the No. 1 seed. Now, they have a really tough battle against Buffalo in Round 1, and goodness knows how difficult the battles will be after that. Philly isn’t sneaking up on anyone this year, which is going to be a big time problem for a team that doesn’t have great goaltending.
9: Buffalo Sabres (+2600): The truth of the matter is that we’re not all that sure that Buffalo doesn’t have the better team than does Philly. The Sabres are legit for sure, and Ryan Miller has proven that he can put a team on his back in the past. Will it be enough to knock off the Eastern Conference champs? Only time will tell. However, it’s not like we didn’t see a No. 7 seed make it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year…
10: Nashville Predators (+3200): This really seems like very little respect for a Nashville team that has some great goaltending. The problem for the Preds is that the offense was absolutely anemic this season. Unless Mike Fisher steps up and starts to produce, seemingly every game will have to be won 2-1 or 1-0.
11: New York Rangers (+3400): Speaking of great goaltending… Here are the Rangers! New York’s Henrik Lundqvist led the league with 11 shutouts this season, and he will almost certainly be the runner up for the Vezina Trophy. Still, the Rangers probably don’t quite have the goods to get past Washington in Round 1.
12: Anaheim Ducks (+2450): The Ducks have absolutely no steady goaltending options, and we wouldn’t be surprised if we see all three of Dan Ellis, Ray Emery, and Jonas Hiller early in these playoffs if all three end up healthy enough to play. Anaheim has the hot hand though, and it also has the only 50 goal scorer in the league in Corey Perry.
13: Chicago Blackhawks (+2500): We’re just not buying into the Blackhawks in these playoffs. This first series against Vancouver is going to be very, very tough, and even if it gets past there, Chicago really hasn’t played all that well against some of the best and brightest out of the Western Conference this season.
14: Montreal Canadiens (+3100): Sorry, Montreal. Last season, the Habs snuck up on virtually every team that they ran up against, but their luck finally ran out in the Eastern Conference Finals. This year, things won’t go as well unless all of a sudden Tomas Plekanec and company start scoring a heck of a lot of goals.
15: Phoenix Coyotes (+3700): We really want to like this Phoenix team, but we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. The team was bitten by the Red Wings in seven games last season, with the closeout game coming in the desert. Now, the Yotes have to win at least once, and maybe twice in Motown AND hold serve at home? It’s just not likely.
16: Los Angeles Kings (+3200): The Kings are the one bunch that we definitely want no part of. Without Anze Kopitar, and considering the fact that Dustin Penner really just never panned out for LA, there’s just no way that it is going to be able to get out of the first round, let alone four rounds in a span of just a couple of months.