NHL: Previewing the Favorites to win the Stanley Cup

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
NHL Sports News


  • Thursday is the final day of the NHL regular season with the Stanley Cup playoffs starting Saturday.
  • The Eastern Conference playoff pairings are set, while all the teams in the Western Conference are locked in but not the actual matchups.
  • After a valiant effort in their last two games, the Red Wings lost the tiebreaker to the Washington Capitals for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Playoff hockey really is something different.

The NHL playoffs begin this weekend. It’s the start of a grueling climb to hoisting the Stanley Cup. Give me the shaggy playoff beards, the handshake lines and the crazy four overtime games!

Michigan understands hockey and is a great place for NHL betting. PointsBet Sportsbook has odds on every game in the playoffs and every series. FanDuel and Caesars each already have odds posted on who will win the Stanley Cup.

We’re going to look at three of the favorites on the board and break down their chances.

Carolina Hurricanes (+650 at FanDuel; +700 at Caesars) 

The Hurricanes survived the brutal Atlantic Division to post 111 points and are back in the playoffs for the sixth straight year. They lost in the conference finals last year to Florida and lost in the conference final in 2019.

They get the Islanders in a tough first round series. The two teams split four meetings this year.

Carolina ranks fourth in the NHL in goals allowed and tied for the NHL lead with eight shutouts. The ‘Canes hot goalie in the playoffs last year, Antii Raanta, was waived mid-season. So much for him. Ace goalie Frederik Andersen missed four months with a blood clot, but came back a month ago and has been spectacular with 13 wins in 16 games and a sub 2 goals against average. The offense is led by Sebastian Aho again. Carolina seems like a team with the ability to win the Cup.

Edmonton Oilers (+850 at FanDuel; +750 at Caesars) 

Oilers star Connor McDavid recorded 100 assists this season to go along with 32 goals. He partners with Leon Draisitl to form the best 1-2 offensive punch in the NHL.

But while the Oilers can definitely score, they were third in the NHL in goals scored….can they defend? Lead goalie Stuart Skinner has 36 wins and a 2.57 goals against average, which is pretty good.

The issue in Edmonton might be their own division. They didn’t win it, and will have to get by Vancouver if they’re going to get anywhere. Edmonton hasn’t won a Cup since 1990, getting upset in the conference semifinals last year.

New York Rangers (+800 at FanDuel; +675 at Caesars) 

The Rangers won the Presidents Trophy with the most regular season points (114) but no team who won the President’s Trophy has won the Cup since the Blackhawks back in 2013. You know how hockey is with its superstitions.

New York started 12-2-1, had a 10-game win streak in the winter and is the most complete team in the Eastern Conference. Goalie Igor Shesterkin had 36 wins. Artemi Panarin led the offense with 120 points and 6-foot-7 rookie Matt Rempe has become a local star, because of his fighting abilities.

But this is the Rangers….they haven’t won a Cup since 1994. They lost in the Cup finals in 2014. They always seem to fall flat on the big stages.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.