NHL Playoffs heating up, Golden Knights favorites

The recent expansion team is the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference

written by: jake Geiger
Photo Courtesy of NHL
Boston Bruins helped the Lightning clinch their fourth trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in just six years.

With the NHL conference finals approaching, the intensity and angst to win has reached an all-time high. 

The NHL did take a short break from play because of the racial injustice boycotting that happened across  all sports leagues last week, but it resumed play on Saturday, and teams are now fighting to be one step closer to the Stanley Cup.

On Aug. 31, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 in double overtime after Victor Hedman’s game-winning goal.

 Hedman’s goal gave the Lightning a 4-1 series win to advance Tampa Bay to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

This is the fourth time in six years the Lightning has advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

The Colorado Avalanche also kept its playoff hopes alive on Monday by defeating the Dallas Stars 6-3. The Avalanche held a 5-0 lead after the first period and never looked back. Being down 3-2 in the series, Colorado will now have to win two games in a row to advance to the Western Conference Finals. 

The other two semifinal matchups both hold as 3-2 leads. The New York Islanders need one more win to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, who were the top seed in the Eastern Conference. In the West, the Vegas Golden Knights have a firm 3-2 series lead against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are the lowest seed in the Western Conference, so being in this series is an accomplishment in itself.

It would be even more surprising if they could come back from what was a 3-1 series deficit. Vegas will be a tough out, however, as they have two starting-caliber goaltenders.

Heading into the conference finals, what teams are hot at the right time? Who has the best odds to win the Stanley Cup? 

Las Vegas sportsbooks currently have the Knights with the best odds followed by the Dallas Stars and the New York Islanders. 

Frankly, hockey is unlike any other sport in which the most talented teams will most likely win the championship. 

In football and basketball for example, the favorite wins more often than not even if the underdog team is playing extraordinary at the time. Yet, hockey defies those odds. 

A recent example would be the St. Louis Blues winning the Stanley Cup last season. Midseason, they were the worst team record-wise, but  they fought their way into the playoffs as the eight seed and stayed hot throughout the postseason to win the Stanley Cup.

The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup as an eight seed in 2012, becoming the first eight seed in the big four professional sports to win the title.