The Vegas Golden Knights' seven-game winning streak has helped put them atop the NHL's West Division and into first place in the overall league table entering Wednesday.
Despite the recent surge, the Knights are still a bit behind the Colorado Avalanche, who are their biggest competition out of the West, on the Stanley Cup odds chart.
In fact, there is a decent gap between the Avalanche and the rest of the field on the odds board. The Tampa Bay Lightning are considered the favorite to win out of the Eastern Conference, and they are followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Vegas carries the same futures value as Toronto at the moment.
While the top-four teams on the odds board are all worthy title contenders, there is one team with a price above +1000 that could make some noise in the postseason.
Stanley Cup Odds
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Colorado (+350; bet $100 to win $350)
Tampa Bay (+600)
New York Islanders (+1500)
Vegas Enters Postseason As Team To Beat In West
Vegas has two opportunities in front of it to create separation between itself and the Avalanche.
The two West Division sides are scheduled to play on April 24 and 26, and Colorado could be without a few key pieces because of COVID-19 protocols. Mikko Rantanen joined Philipp Grubauer and Joonas Donskoi on the COVID-19 protocol absence list on Tuesday.
The potential absence of the league's second-best scorer could hurt Colorado's chances of finishing with the top point total and the No. 1 spot in the West Division.
Even if Rantanen was available for those two contests, it would have been hard for the Avalanche to win since the Knights are playing great hockey right now.
Vegas has been on a scoring tear during the league's longest current winning streak. It put up four or more goals in four of those matchups and won five of them by two or more goals.
The Knights are 3-3 against the Avalanche, and two of those wins occurred in Denver. If they even split with the Avs, they could finish the season in strong form and earn home-ice advantage.
Vegas' final seven games come against teams in fourth or worse in the West Division. It is 5-1 versus the Arizona Coyotes, who it faces twice, and it has two combined losses to the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues.
The Minnesota Wild are the only one of Vegas' remaining opponents with success against it, but three of their four wins were by one goal.
If Vegas and Minnesota play more close games on May 3 and 5, the Knights could overtake the Wild and level out the season series.
As long as Vegas' offense continues to roll at its current pace, it may be hard for any team, even Colorado, to stop it in the postseason. At +700, Vegas may be worth the Stanley Cup bet now just in case its value drops in the coming weeks.
Washington Makes Strong Case To Emerge Out of East
Washington has the perfect combination of experience and depth that can aid a deep playoff run.
The Capitals added Anthony Mantha from the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline to reinforce their scoring behind Alexander Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom.
Each of Washington's top three scorers were around for the 2018 Stanley Cup run in which it fought past the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning to earn a matchup with Vegas.
Washington holds an advantage over the New York Islanders for first place in the East division. The Capitals and Islanders both have 62 points. Washington holds a 3-2 head-to-head advantage.
The Capitals could be best equipped to come out of the loaded East because they have the best road mark between themselves, New York, Pittsburgh and the Boston Bruins.
Washington won twice in Boston and forced Pittsburgh to a shootout and overtime early in the season. It has two road meetings with the Islanders on April 22 and 24 that could reinforce that record.
If Mantha, who has four goals in four games, continues to adapt well to his new team, the Capitals could roll into away arenas with an even better attack than they had in previous trips to New York, Pittsburgh or Boston.
At the moment, the Capitals are +1200 to win the Stanley Cup. With plenty going in their favor right now, they could be worth a look at that price before it drops after a playoff series win or two.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.
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