With the 2021 NHL regular season heading into its home stretch, it’s time again for NHL Stanley Cup futures update. There has been an “Avalanche” of change in the past week or so as a handful of teams have been playing their best hockey of the season.
In a race that was defending champion Tampa Bay’s to lose at the beginning of the season, the race for the 2021 Stanley Cup is getting very interesting.
New Favorite – NHL Stanley Cup Futures
The Colorado Avalanche have seen their NHL Stanley Cup futures odds shorten to +400 as the result of a very impressive run over the last month. Going back to March 10, the Avs have gone on a rampage that has produced 15 wins and just three losses in 18 games. Anyone that likes betting on hockey should be backing them.
Colorado has had two separate streaks of seven and five wins since March 10 and has overtaken Vegas in the race for the West Division title. The Avalanche are currently 28-9-4 and lead the race for the President’s Cup with 60 points.
They are 8-1-1 in their last ten games and much of the success is due to the outstanding goalie play of Philip Grubauer. The AVs goaltender leads the league in wins with 24 and sports a 2.00 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
The Avs have one of the best lines in hockey with leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon (50 pts) and leading goal scorer Mikko Rantanen (23 goals). Colorado leads the league with 3.56 goals per game and, coupled with Grubauer’s outstanding play, the Avs lead the NHL in goal differential at +50.
Tampa Bay opened the season as the overall favorite to repeat as Stanley Cup champion. The Lightning got off to a good start but have struggled as of late. They recently had a string of seven games in which they lost five.
That has dropped the Lightning to 28-11-2 overall and to second place in the super-competitive Central Division. There is still value on Tampa Bay, which is now listed at +600. The Lightning have the second-best goal differential in the league (+40). That’s thanks to defending Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy who is second to Grubauer in wins (23) this season.
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A Hurricane Brewing
There is a hurricane brewing in Carolina. The Hurricanes are 7-2-1 in their last ten games and have taken over the lead in the Central Division. Carolina is now 27-9-4 overall.
Much of Carolina’s recent success can be attributed to goalie Petr Mrazek who has three shutouts in just six games this season. The Hurricanes are also 5-1 against Florida, another contender from the Central Division.
The Panthers (+1750) are 26-12-4 overall. They are part of the three-way logjam at the top of the Central. Both Carolina and Tampa Bay have 58 points while the Panthers are close behind at 56.
With Joel Quenneville as the Panthers head coach, it’s no surprise that Florida is one of the better defensive teams in the NHL. Goaltender Chris Driedger is having an outstanding season. He is second in the league in save percentage (.930) and fourth in goals against average (2.05).
Islanders Make a Move – NHL Stanley Cup Futures
It appeared the Washington Capitals would own the East Division. That is until the New York Islanders turned up the heat.
The Islanders have seen their NHL Stanley Cup futures odds at top online sportsbooks shorten with their recent success. New York moved into a tie for the East’s top spot with the Capitals with a recent 7-3 run in their last ten games. The Isles are now 27-11-4 overall.
New York is one of the most difficult teams to score on as they allow just 2.31 goals per game. That is second-best in the league. As a result, the Islanders are now one of six teams listed below +1000 odds to win the Cup. New York is given +900 odds to win.
The other two teams listed below +1000 are Vegas at +700 and Boston at +900. Of the two, Vegas is the more enticing prospect with a 27-11-2 overall record. The Knights trail Colorado in the West by four points (60 to 56).
With Marc-Andre Fleury in goal – fifth in both save percentage and goals against – Vegas is a threat to get back to the Western Conference final. (NHL semifinals this year) The Knights have the roster to do it. The big question will be getting past Colorado. The two teams have split six games so far this season.