Can Lightning Strike Twice? Why Isn't Tampa Bay Favoured to Repeat as Stanley Cup Champions?

NHL Nov 18, 2020

Puck could drop on Dec. 1st – Avalanche and Golden Knights among the preseason favourites

The opening numbers are out and posted at SPREADS.CA on the odds of every NHL team winning the 2021 Stanley Cup.  Most of the betting favourites are predictable.  But there are also a few surprises.

As expected, the reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning are among the odds-on favourites.  The Bolts will enter the new season fresh off their first NHL title ever, after beating the Dallas Stars 4 games to 2 in the abbreviated, but nonetheless fiercely competitive 2019-2020 season.

What might be a bit of a surprise is that the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are priced above or equal to the current champs.  Note that Colorado is 8.5 to 1 and Vegas is 9 to 1.

Here's a look at the current prices of all teams:

Reports are now circulating that the new upcoming season could begin as early as December 1st, 2020.  

The league hopes to play and complete a full 82-game season, in addition to the playoffs.  Moved back by a month, that means the uninterrupted season would end sometime in late July.  

Normally, the NHL regular season begins in October.  But due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lengthy delay which resulted in the previous season ending in early October, the start of the 2021 regular season has not been determined.  It will be the shortest "off-season" ever.

One big issue and a potential obstacle remains the U.S.-Canada border and travel restrictions.  Post COVID, all games were played in so-called "bubble cities," in Canada.  This isolated format probably wouldn't be feasible over an extended period for next season, as there are 7 teams in Canada and 24 in the U.S.  Hence, look for the NHL to adapt something similar to limited seating or even empty arenas, though it remains to be seen if teams can take such extensive travel without severe risks of exposure during what's expected to be a "dark winter."

Nonetheless, none of these fears will stop gamblers and hockey fans from speculating on who still will be skating and hoisting the cup, perhaps next summer.

Writer's Opinion:  Right now, give me either the Vancouver Canucks at 26-1 or the Minnesota Wild at 51-1 as the best values on the board.

The league's newest expansion team, the Seattle Kracken is set to begin skating at the start of the 2021-22 season, next fall.

Photo Credit: NHL.com