NHL Odds: Philadelphia Flyers 2011 Stanley Cup Favorites Canucks, Red Wings Too

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NHL Odds: Philadelphia Flyers 2011 Stanley Cup Favorites Canucks, Red Wings Too
Lou Capozzola/Getty Images
The Philadelphia Flyers check in as Stanley Cup 2011 odds favorites

With the All-Star game behind us and the NHL trade deadline around the corner, hockey betting shifts toward the playoffs and, of course, Stanley Cup futures. Let’s look at the top 10 current contenders.

1.              Philadelphia Flyers

Sportsbook odds: +300

We had to take them seriously from the start this year after they made an improbable run all the way to the Stanley Cup final last year. Not much has changed from that team. Philly has tremendous depth and skill up front, a bruising defense and goaltending that may or may not hold up come playoff time.

VERDICT: Contender

2.              Vancouver Canucks

Sportsbook odds: +350

It should come as no surprise that the NHL’s most complete team has dominated the league this year. The Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler have been dynamite up front and Roberto Luongo has been his usual stellar self more often than not in net. Injuries to Vancouver’s defense are a mild concern at the moment.

VERDICT: Contender

3.              Detroit Red wings

Sportsbook odds: +400

Hockey’s most successful franchise keeps getting it done without making major personnel changes every year. Nick Lidstrom just doesn’t age and the Wings still have two of the game’s best two-way players in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Detroit could use some more size and grit, though.

VERDICT: Contender

4.              Boston Bruins

Sportsbook odds: +500

Like the Flyers, the Bruins have that “built for the playoffs” rep about them. They’re big, mean, and extremely tough to score against. They could use a bona fide sniper, though, and perhaps a puck moving defenseman to set up Zdeno Chara on the power play.

VERDICT: Sleeper

5.              Washington Capitals

Sportsbook odds: +1000

The Washington Capitals’ management frustrates me and anyone betting on them. Every year, they’re just a few pieces away from becoming top contenders. Yet they rarely trade for veteran goalie help or a rugged defenseman. Until they step up at a the deadline, they may never get over the hump.

VERDICT: Pretender

6.              Pittsburgh Penguins

Sportsbook odds: +1500

Disaster struck Pittsburgh this season. Evgeni Malkin is done for the year after blowing out his knee. Sidney Crosby is still sidelined with a concussion. I know he’s supposed to be back next month but you just never know with head injuries. The Pens don’t have the horses to keep up in the East with their top stars out.

VERDICT: Pretender

7.              Tampa Bay Lightning

Sportsbook odds: +1800

Watch out for Tampa. Under power-play guru Guy Boucher, it’s no surprise to see Tampa lighting the lamp so much. The Lightning were surrendering too many goals earlier this season but new arrival Dwayne Roloson has righted the ship in net. Could the Lightning be one defenseman away from contending for the Cup?

VERDICT: Sleeper

8.              San Jose Sharks

Sportsbook odds: +1800

Maybe all the Sharks needed was for everyone to forget about them. With the pressure off, hockey’s perennial chokers are surging up the standings. Anti Niemi, who won the Cup with Chicago last season, has been as good as any goalie in the New Year. Could San Jose make a run?

VERDICT: Contender

9.              Montreal Canadiens

Sportsbook odds: +1800

Thanks to Carey Price’s stellar season in goal and P.K. Subban’s emergence, some hockey bettors will take Montreal’s odds and hope for another miracle playoff run. This sports betting blog isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid. The Habs are still among the most talent-poor of all the playoff hopefuls.

VERDICT: Pretender

10.           Chicago Blackhawks

Sportsbook odds: +2500

Oddsmakers aren’t giving up on the defending champs, still giving them top-10 odds even though they’re barely staying in the Western Conference playoff picture. Even if the Hawks make the big dance, it will be as a low seed with no home ice. That plus their lack of depth after trading so many guys in the offseason could be their downfall.

VERDICT: Pretender

Stanley Cup free pick

I’d throw my money down on the Vancouver Canucks if I were you. They’re extremely strong at every position and their categorical rankings back that up: first in goals, first in goals against, first in power play, first in faceoff percentage, fourth in penalty killing. As long as Luongo holds up, it’s Vancouver’s year.

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