The New York Rangers have unfinished business heading into the 2015 NHL playoffs, entering the postseason as the 6-1 favorites on the odds to win the Stanley Cup after falling short against the Los Angeles Kings in last year’s Final.
The Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy for most points in the league this season with 113, which means they will have home-ice advantage as long as they stay alive in the playoffs.
New York is also 5-2 to win the Eastern Conference after closing out the regular season by winning six of its last seven games, losing consecutive games only once since February 8 and finishing with the best goal differential in the NHL at plus-60.
The Rangers won the Metropolitan Division easily over the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders, and they will start the postseason against a team with star power that barely made it as the second wild-card qualifier in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Montreal (9-1 to win the Cup) won the division and finished with the second-most points in the league (110). The Canadiens are 9-2 to win the conference along with the Lightning, who won all five regular-season meetings between them. Tampa Bay is at 12-1 to win the Cup.
However, the other top contenders to win the Stanley Cup all reside in the Western Conference, according to oddsmakers. The Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild are each 8-1 on the Stanley Cup betting lines, and two of them will meet in the first round.
The Blues won the Central Division and tied the Ducks for most points in the conference with 109, and they will begin their quest for the Cup by facing the Wild, who made it into the postseason as a wild-card team.
Chicago is the 15-4 favorite to win the West after finishing third in the Central, but first the team must get past the Nashville Predators in the opening round.
The Predators were one of the league’s top teams early in the year but faded down the stretch, and they are a dark horse at 6-1 to win the conference and 12-1 to win the Cup. St. Louis and Anaheim are both 4-1 to win the conference, followed by Minnesota at 9-2.