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NHL PLAYOFFS

Randall The Handle: NHL playoff odds and observations

Randall the Handle

By Randall The Handle

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First team to 16, wins it all. Which squad might it be? 

Here’s a look at the odds and observations for each of the NHL’s playoff teams chances at capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup:

NEW YORK RANGERS: 6/1

Cup is half full because: They were top point getters in the NHL this season. Strong in all aspects of the game. Experience as finalists last year. Keith Yandle could be the missing piece.

Cup is half empty because:Pressure as the favourites to win it all. Team leader Rick Nash scores in regular season but has been a dud in playoffs. He needs to step up.

ANAHEIM DUCKS: 8/1

Cup is half full because: Best record in Western Conference. Few teams win at the Pond. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are as good a duo as any in the league.

Cup is half empty because: Goal differential of plus-10 was worst among playoff teams. Both penalty killing and power-play are merely mediocre.

ST. LOUIS BLUES: 8/1

Cup is half full because: If opposition doesn’t get shots on net, tough to win and Blues strong defence allowed fewest shots against in NHL. Top five units in both goals for and goals against.

Cup is half empty because: Do we know who the starting goalie is? Both Brian Elliot and Jake Allen have been erratic. One of them must answer the bell.

MONTREAL CANADIENS: 9/1

Cup is half full because: Carey Price is the best goaltender on the planet, giving the Habs a leg up in any overtime game. They’re the Canadiens and their rich playoff history can’t be ignored.

Cup is half empty because: Montreal's offence revolves around Max Pacioretty, who ended the regular season on the shelf. If he’s still out, Canadiens could make a quick exit. Montreal’s 23rd-ranked power play must improve.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: 9/1

Cup is half full because: Core of players from 2013 championship team remains on the roster. Club is built for spring hockey. Goalie Corey Crawford continues to be money.

Cup is half empty because: Offensive production is down. Chicago was 17th in the league in goals per game, 20th in power play percentage and 26thin shooting percentage.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: 12/1

Cup is half full because: Nashville’s 28 home wins was best mark in Western Conference. Pekka Rinne among top goalies. D Shea Weber and Roman Josi are formidable defensive tandem.

Cup is half empty because: Team limped into playoffs on a six-game skid. Must up their game against winning teams after compiling a 19-25 mark against NHL’s top 16 clubs.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 12/1

Cup is half full because: Tampa fills the net with league best 262 goals on the season. Bolts’ 32 home wins was league-leading. Balanced scoring saw 11 players with double-digit goals.

Cup is half empty because: The defensive corps is really banged up. Playoff hockey has not exactly been a bright spot for this club. Possessing puck off of faceoffs is an issue.

MINNESOTA WILD: 14/1

Cup is half full because: Wild are dangerous. Advanced stats support this unheralded team. Goalie Devan Dubnyk filled a gaping hole on talented club. Defenceman move puck extremely well.

Cup is half empty because: Since coming over, Dubynk has played an awful lot of hockey. Burnout is a concern. Minnesota must receive production from secondary lines.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS: 14/1

Cup is half full because: Caps possess top power play unit in the league. New coaching staff has them structured, disciplined unlike previous years. Alex Ovechkin is still a force.

Cup is half empty because: After Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, next highest scorer had 31 less points. Suspect defence will have hands full with strong fore-checking teams.

OTTAWA SENATORS: 15/1

Cup is half full because: Confidence. Since February, no team is hotter than this bunch. Goaltender is playing out his mind. Top three lines producing at a high level.

Cup is half empty because: They’ve been playing playoff hockey for months despite being written off for dead. Can they maintain such intensity for six more weeks?

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: 16/1

Cup is half full because: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still play for the Penguins. Early season form is evidence of how good they can be. Underdog role relieves pressure and may spark.

Cup is half empty because: Pens were lowest scoring team in NHL after all-star break. Top defencemen Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff are both sidelined. Goaltending is iffy.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: 16/1

Cup is half full because: Vancouver’s relentless pursuit of the puck is unparalleled. Sedin twins bring loads of experience to post-season. Winger Radim Vrbata could be this year’s Butch Goring.

Cup is half empty because: Playoff pedigree leaves much to be desired. Perhaps Eddie Lack should be in net instead of highly priced Ryan Miller. Inconsistent play is a concern.

DETROIT RED WINGS: 18/1

Cup is half full because: Coach Mike Babcock can never be underestimated. Detroit’s power-play was league’s 2nd-best on the year. When healthy, this Red Wings club has the talent to challenge anyone.

Cup is half empty because: Apprehension with goaltending as Jimmy Howard has been awful and suspect rookie is only other option. Defence gets sloppy, allowing too many scoring chances.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: 18/1

Cup is half full because: Forward John Tavares is two-way stud that can carry this New York team on his back. Defencemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy bring previously lacking playoff experience.

Cup is half empty because: Final month of season saw slumping team go 4-10 with two of the wins against Buffalo and New Jersey. Goalie Jaroslav Halak has been less than stellar.

WINNIPEG JETS: 20/1

Cup is half full because: Work ethic is unmatched. Team is as gritty as can be. Balanced lines will make opposition work hard. If there’s such a thing as the 7th man, MTS Centre will be it.

Cup is half empty because: This is uncharted territory since club returned to Winnipeg. Team has to cut down on penalties, having incurred 2nd-most infractions in league this season.

CALGARY FLAMES: 22/1

Cup is half full because: Flames showed resiliency all season long despite some tough conditions. Chippy team finds a way to get puck in the net. Enough talent to make some playoff noise.

Cup is half empty because: Signature third period comebacks are a risky game to play in post-season. Flames forced to go with unstable goalie Jonas Hiller, for better or for worse.

RANDALL'S TOP VALUE PLAYS:

Tampa Bay Lightning @ 12-1, Minnesota Wild @ 14-1  

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