NHL Playoffs Hockey Preview

It didn’t take long for the NHL playoff picture to change drastically.

Heading into the postseason, Tampa Bay was a 2-1 favorite to win the Stanley Cup after locking up the Presidents’ Trophy in mid-March.

Now facing a sweep at the hands of the wild-card Blue Jackets, the Lightning desperately need a win on the road in Columbus. Tampa Bay’s chances of coming all the way back to advance to the next round are incredibly low. Only four times in 188 tries has a team bounced back to win a series after trailing 3-0 in the NHL playoffs. The first time it happened was 1942. The last time it occurred, the Los Angeles Kings upset the San Jose Sharks in the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (+4000 to win the Stanley Cup) face a similarly poor outlook, as they stare down a 3-0 hole against the New York Islanders (+650). The Penguins offense has struggled mightily against New York, and there isn’t much hope it’ll pick up in Game 4.

As for last year’s Stanley Cup winner, the Washington Capitals have emerged as the favorites (+550) to win it all again. Washington suffered a 5-0 loss to the wild-card Carolina Hurricanes on Monday but lead the series 2-1, with its next game on the road before heading back to Capital One Arena. Last year’s runner-up, the Vegas Golden Knights (+700), are also in good position to make a run for the Stanley Cup final once more. With a 2-1 lead against San Jose, the Golden Knights play at home Tuesday and should take another game.

The No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames, fell to +1150 odds to claim Lord Stanley’s trophy after dropping a second game to the Colorado Avalanche. Calgary opened as the second favorite to win the Stanley Cup but look doubtful with a two-game deficit to Colorado and two games left on the road.

The rest of the Western Conference features the No. 5 St. Louis Blues working toward a 3-1 lead against the No. 4 Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. No. 2 Nashville went up 2-1 against the Dallas Stars on Monday. In the Eastern Conference the No. 5 Toronto Maple Leafs are leading No. 3 Boston 2-1.

The second-round schedule will be announced near April 24, the date of the last possible Game 7.


Follow all of the latest NHL playoff coverage at BetAmerica Extra.