Will Tampa Bay be able to avoid the same disappointing road as most other winners of the Presidents' Trophy over the past decade?
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had the best record in the NHL for almost the entire season, and have earned the Presidents' Trophy with ease, but their ultimate goal is to hoist the Stanley Cup for the second time ever as huge +180 betting favorites (wager $100 to win $180) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The only real concern for Tampa Bay is that the team has peaked too early once again and will follow the same disappointing road as most other winners of the Presidents' Trophy over the past decade. The Chicago Blackhawks are the lone team over the previous 10 years that has won the Stanley Cup after totaling the most points in the league during the regular season. And that was a lockout-shortened year in 2012/13.
In addition, the Red Wings also failed to win the Stanley Cup in 1996 despite finishing with 131 points, second behind the only other team to earn 60 wins - the Montreal Canadiens (132) in 1977. The Canadiens did win the Stanley Cup that year, the second of four in a row.
Regardless, the Lightning will have their work cut out for them in a loaded Eastern Conference that will see all eight playoff teams end up with more than 90 points. The two biggest threats in the East look to be the Boston Bruins (+900 on the Stanley Cup odds) and defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals (+1300) followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins (+1500) and Toronto Maple Leafs (+1700).
A Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup since the Canadiens in 1993, so Toronto will try to buck that trend.
In the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames will also be attempting to end that long drought as the +700 second choice overall on those NHL odds. The Flames have already wrapped up the best record in the West and will be the top seed from that conference when the playoffs get underway next week.
However, the West is a lot more wide open with the San Jose Sharks (+1100), St. Louis Blues (+1200), Nashville Predators (+1400), Winnipeg Jets (+1400) and Vegas Golden Knights (+1600) all capable of making it to the Stanley Cup final. The Golden Knights are the defending Western Conference champions and back in the postseason for a second straight year, so their experience could be a factor here.