Updated Stanley Cup Odds for Every NHL Playoff Team After First Round

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IMay 15, 2013

Updated Stanley Cup Odds for Every NHL Playoff Team After First Round

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    We started with 16 teams, but now we are down to just eight.

    After an exciting opening round, the conference semifinals are getting started and the eight surviving teams all find themselves one step closer to the Stanley Cup.

    The odds in this piece are based on a combination of the talent and ability of the team itself, and the level of difficulty their current and possible future opponents provide them.

    Feel free to comment on the list, and if you disagree, explain where the odds for a certain team should be and why.

    Now, here's our look at the updated Stanley Cup odds for each of the remaining eight teams in the 2013 NHL playoffs.

Ottawa Senators: 25-to-1

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    The Ottawa Senators did a great job of ousting the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round and now have to face the top-seeded team in the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    The Islanders, however, showed that Pittsburgh is by no means invincible. The most interesting matchup in this series will be Ottawa's defense, which ranked second in the league in goals against during the regular season, trying to stifle the high-powered attack of the Penguins.

    Special teams are another key. Ottawa had the league's top penalty kill, while the Penguins were second in the league with the man advantage. That being said, even with Erik Karlsson back in the lineup, the Senators will have a tough time matching the offensive firepower of the Penguins.

    The Senators are playing with house money right now. After all their injuries in the regular season, few people expected them to reach the playoffs, let alone advance past the first round.

    They are well coached and very sound defensively, so anything is possible. But the Sens face an uphill climb right now to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup since they reentered the league.

Detroit Red Wings: 22-to-1

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    The Red Wings did a good job in pulling off the upset over the Ducks, but they now face the Chicago Blackhawks, recipients of this year's Presidents' Trophy.

    Detroit still has some talented veterans who have been through the playoff grind like Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard. But they also have younger inexperienced players not tested in playoff situations like Jakub Kindl, Brenden Smith, Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist.

    Can the Wings be consistent enough to beat the Blackhawks? Their play was good enough to get past the first round, but Chicago is deeper and more talented than Anaheim.

    Chicago is also well-rested after ousting Minnesota in five games, which probably can't help the Red Wings. This was a year of transition for the Red Wings after the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, and some skeptics said Detroit would not even make the playoffs this year. The Red Wings proved them wrong.

    Many people predicted Anaheim to win their series, and again, the Red Wings proved them wrong.

    Can they do it again against Chicago? It's not impossible, but Detroit is definitely not the favorite and would then have to continue to win two more series against top teams to win the Cup.

New York Rangers: 20-to-1

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    The New York Rangers have one huge asset in the playoffs: Henrik Lundqvist. Their biggest problem? Goal-scoring.

    After beating the Capitals in seven games, they now face a Bruins team that has more size and playoff experience than Washington did.

    The Rangers won despite getting almost no offense from Rick Nash and Brad Richards, and the Broadway Blueshirts have the lowest postseason power-play success rate of the remaining teams, converting on just 7.1 percent of their chances.

    Lundqvist and a furious team defense should keep the Rangers in most games. If their offense wakes up, they have a chance to go a long way. It hasn't happened consistently yet this season, but if it does, the Rangers could be this year's version of the Los Angeles Kings.

San Jose Sharks: 18-to-1

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    The San Jose Sharks have had an annual date with playoff disappointment since 2004 despite being one of the favorites to win the Cup seemingly every year.

    Now San Jose is getting it done by winning faceoffs and blocking shots, and it is finally getting scoring depth from players like Logan Couture and Raffi Torres.

    San Jose's power play was also a big difference against the Canucks, with a 29.2 percent success rate in the series. And Antti Niemi gives the Sharks a goalie who has won a Stanley Cup.

    The Kings, of course, won the title last year and are a big, physical team that will try to wear down the Sharks. The power play has to continue to shine and players like Raffi Torres have to answer the Kings' physical play without taking foolish penalties if San Jose is to advance.

    This could be the year the Sharks finally end their string of playoff failures. But it will be a challenge to get past the next three rounds.

Boston Bruins: 12-to-1

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    The Bruins are another team with recent Stanley Cup experience, having won hockey's Holy Grail in 2011.

    They are young, deep and talented and they are capable of another title if things break their way. Goalie Tuukka Rask needs to continue performing, and the Bruins need to overcome injuries to defensemen like Dennis Seidenberg to continue their advancement.

    They are among the top teams in the faceoff circle, which is key against teams that like to dominate possession. And Boston may be the strongest team remaining at 5-on-5 hockey, but its special teams leave a lot to be desired.

    If the Bruins play smart, physical hockey, they are tough to beat. They are experienced and have a good blend of youth and elder statesmen.

Los Angeles Kings: 12-to-1

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    The Kings are looking to become the first repeat champions since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings.

    They still have last year's Conn Smythe winner in Jonathan Quick and are still a deep and talented team that uses its size to grind down opponents.

    However, while the Kings are scoring more this year, they are still far from being one of the top offensive teams in the league.

    In addition to Quick, the Kings need players like Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov to have strong postseasons like they did a year ago, and timely scoring is once again a must all postseason.

    The Kings are tested, experienced and eager to prove the naysayers wrong. The Western Conference is the stronger conference, and the Kings are a stronger team than most people give them credit for.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 5-to-1

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins have two of the best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They have experienced former captains in Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla. Add Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik and Douglas Murray to the blue line and you have one impressive lineup.

    There are two things working against the Penguins, however: the ghosts of surprising playoff failures since their 2009 Stanley Cup, and the questions around their goaltending.

    The Penguins won only one playoff series in 2010 and then lost in the first round in both 2011 and 2012. The Islanders gave the Pens a tough fight in the opening round as well, although Pittsburgh managed to prevail in six hard-fought games.

    The goaltending issue is a bigger concern. Backup Tomas Vokoun played well enough to get Pittsburgh past the Islanders, but will he be consistent enough to take them all the way to the promised land? If he can't, can Marc-Andre Fleury—shot confidence and all—return and do the job?

    The talent and depth are there. If the goaltending holds up, the Penguins are capable of winning another Stanley Cup.

Chicago Blackhawks: 4-to-1

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    The Blackhawks had the league's best record and opened the season with 24 straight games without a regulation loss (21-0-3).

    They have two very effective scoring lines, get good offensive support from their bottom six, and have plenty of postseason experience after winning in 2010.

    Captain Jonathan Toews is considered one of the league's best leaders and the defense is both deep and experienced.

    The goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery both excelled in the regular season. Crawford got off to a strong start in the first round, but you get the feeling if he falters or slumps, coach Joel Quenneville would have no problem turning to Emery.

    The keys to the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup hopes is the power play (a weakness all season), and keeping players like Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp healthy during the long playoff run.

    Chicago is not unbeatable, but they have to be considered the favorites. They have all the ingredients and home-ice advantage through the playoffs.