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Early Odds to Win 2014 Stanley Cup
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 6/27/2013  at  5:16:00 PM
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Odds to Win 2014 NHL Stanley Cup

As the Chicago Blackhawks continue to celebrate their 2013 championship to cap off another exciting NHL campaign, StatFox looks forward to next season and the teams that represent the best wagers of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in June 2014.

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Pittsburgh Penguins5-to-1
Chicago Blackhawks6-to-1
St. Louis Blues8-to-1
Boston Bruins9-to-1
Detroit Red Wings10-to-1
Vancouver Canucks12-to-1
Los Angeles Kings16-to-1
San Jose Sharks16-to-1
Anaheim Ducks20-to-1
Montreal Canadiens20-to-1
New York Rangers20-to-1
Edmonton Oilers30-to-1
Toronto Maple Leafs30-to-1
New York Islanders30-to-1
Washington Capitals30-to-1
Ottawa Senators30-to-1
Philadelphia Flyers40-to-1
Winnipeg Jets40-to-1
Tampa Bay Lightning40-to-1
Minnesota Wild40-to-1
New Jersey Devils40-to-1
Columbus Blue Jackets40-to-1
Carolina Hurricanes40-to-1
Dallas Stars50-to-1
Colorado Avalanche50-to-1
Nashville Predators50-to-1
Phoenix Coyotes60-to-1
Buffalo Sabres100-to-1
Florida Panthers100-to-1
Calgary Flames100-to-1

The Canucks look to shake off getting swept in the first round by the Sharks, replacing head coach Alain Vigneault with John Tortorella in the offseason. The former Rangers head man has plenty of offensive firepower, headlined by twin brothers Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. Top goalie Cory Schneider's untimely injury in late April kept him out of the two home games in that playoff series loss to San Jose, which was a big blow considering he was 11-3-1 with a 1.77 GAA and .938 save percentage at home last season. Vancouver should certainly win the weak Northwest Division for the sixth straight year, but now it's a question of snapping the losing skid of three straight playoff series losses that began in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. At 12-to-1, the Canucks are the team to target as the next NHL champions.

The Capitals went 25-10-2 in their final 37 games last season, and still have the reigning league MVP in Alex Ovechkin, the NHL's top goal scorer last year with 32 tallies. Washington's offense racked up 3.04 goals per game (T-4th in league) and also led the NHL with the man advantage, tallying 44 power-play goals on a stellar 26.8% success rate. The team must address the defense in the offseason, as it allowed 2.7 goals per game (17th in league) and was a dismal 27th in killing off power plays (77.9%). And although top goalie Braden Holtby was very inconsistent (2.58 GAA), the future is bright for the 23-year-old. At 30-to-1 odds, place your largest Eastern Conference wager on the Caps.

Tuukka Rask led the Bruins to their Eastern Conference championship, tying for the NHL lead in shutouts (five) and placing third in save percentage (.929). That will probably earn him a fat contract to stay in Boston, but the team also has to figure out whether or not to re-sign star forwards Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton. The Bruins played stellar defense all season, allowing just 2.21 goals per game (3rd in NHL) while killing off 87.1% of penalties (4th-best in league). The offense wasn't too shabby either, putting 32.4 shots on goal per game (2nd in NHL). Although Pittsburgh has shorter odds, it was Boston that swept the Penguins in the playoffs and should be considered the best team in the East as long as Rask and Bergeron stay put.

The 2012 Stanley Cup champions made it all the way back to the Western Conference Finals despite a subpar season for netminder Jonathan Quick whose GAA rose from 1.95 in 2011-12 to an unimpressive 2.45 in the 2012-13 campaign. But Quick was able to regain his form in the playoffs with a 1.86 GAA and .934 save percentage. L.A. really didn't have a weakness in the regular season, ranking among the league's top-10 teams in scoring (2.7 goals per game), defense (2.4 goals per game allowed), power play (19.9%) and penalty kill (83.2%). A lot of that can be attributed to versatile Anze Kopitar, who led the team with 42 points and never took a break on the defensive end of the ice. Jeff Carter (26 goals, 4th in NHL) remains a valuable sniper, helping make this an undervalued squad at 16-to-1 odds to win a second title in three seasons.

The low odds are indicative of a team that certainly has the talent to win its third Stanley Cup title in five years. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews helped the Blackhawks lead the Western Conference in scoring (3.10 goals per game), but it was the defense that was so tough to overcome. Chicago led the entire NHL with its 2.02 goals per game allowed, thanks in part to killing off 87.2% of its penalties (3rd-best in NHL). Goalie Corey Crawford performed better in the playoffs than anybody thought he would (1.84 GAA, .932 save percentage), leaving no doubt that this is the best team in the Western Conference.

New head coach Alain Vigneault will hope to keep this a disciplined hockey team that tied Chicago for the fewest penalty minutes in the league last year (444 PIM). Derek Stepan exploded last season for a team-high 44 points and +25 rating, adding to an already loaded offense with Rick Nash (21 goals) and Brad Richards (34 points). And don’t forget about goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose 2.05 GAA and .926 save percentage led New York to the 4th-best defense in the NHL (2.25 goals per game allowed). Lundqvist has posted four straight seasons with a save percentage of .920 or better and tied for the NHL lead with 24 wins in the shortened 2012-13 season. And for a team playing in such a huge market, the 20-to-1 odds are quite favorable.

Columbus is the darkhorse team to make some noise this season due mostly to having netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, the best goalie on the planet last season. He won the Vezina Trophy with a 21-11-6 record, 2.00 GAA and .932 save percentage. Defensively, this team has no problems shutting down opponents, ranking 9th in the NHL in goals allowed (2.4 per game) and 11th in penalty killing (82.6%). It's the offense that needs a major boost after a poor 2.4 goals per game (25th in NHL) and the league's third-worst power-play unit (14.2%). Trading for Marian Gaborik at last year's deadline was a big step in the right direction and three first-round draft picks will certainly help this team move in the right direction. If the Blue Jackets can just get to the postseason, Bobrovsky could carry them very far.

The longshot pick has to be the Sabres, whose 8-4 record in April is an encouraging sign for this season, especially considering three of those wins came on the road against the Eastern Conference finalists -- Boston and Pittsburgh. Buffalo will have to cut down on the penalties (630 PIM, 5th-most in NHL) and vastly improve its power play (14.1%, 2nd-worst in NHL) to get back to respectability though. The Sabres also need to capitalize more at home, where their 11-10-3 record was nearly equal to what they did on the road (10-11-3). Although goalie Ryan Miller has already been in the league for a decade, he's only 32 years old and is certainly capable of bouncing back from a career-worst 2.81 GAA.

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