The 2013 NHL Playoffs are set to begin on Tuesday night, with several teams vying for the Stanley Cup.
Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Pittsburgh Penguins as the favorites to win the title. Pittsburgh's success may hinge on their health. Star scorer Sidney Crosby is expected back on the ice this week, but how effective he will be following a jaw injury remains unclear.
The defending champion Los Angeles Kings have 14-to-1 odds of repeating. In June, L.A. became the only eighth seed to ever win the Stanley Cup. The Kings were able to win their first title in franchise history, mainly behind the great net-minding of Jonathan Quick, and a generally healthy roster with proven scorers.
The odds are stacked against the New York Islanders, who have a 40-1 chance of winning the Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh Penguins 7/2
Chicago Blackhawks 15/4
Boston Bruins 17/2
Anaheim Ducks 12/1
Montreal Canadiens 12/1
Los Angeles Kings 14/1
St. Louis Blues 14/1
Vancouver Canucks 14/1
San Jose Sharks 16/1
Washington Capitals 16/1
New York Rangers 18/1
Toronto Maple Leafs 20/1
Minnesota Wild 22/1
Detroit Red Wings 28/1
Ottawa Senators 28/1
New York Islanders 40/1
PITTSBURGH (1) vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS (8)
With Sidney Crosby expected to return, Pittsburgh should cruise past the Islanders. The Penguins have been extremely consistent, with an identical 18-6-0 record at home and on the road. The Isles have been better on the road than at home, and have been led by John Tavares, who is a Hart Trophy contender.
Winner: Pittsburgh in four.
MONTREAL (2) vs. OTTAWA (8)
This might be the most competitive series of the postseason. Erik Karlsson is back, and looks to be in fine form for the Senators. The Habs finished the season strong, and have had balanced scoring this season. Carey Price will need a strong season to hold off the Ottawa attack.
Winner: Canadiens in seven games.
WASHINGTON (3) vs. NEW YORK RANGERS (6)
This is the fourth meeting in five years for the Capitals and Rangers. New York enters the playoff with momentum, having won five of their last six games, and doing it in convincing fashion. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Caps have been even hotter, with a 15-2-2 record in the final stretch. Alex Ovechkin remains arguably the best player in hockey, but Henrik Lundqvist is still a superstar goalie.
Winner: Rangers in five games.
BOSTON (4) vs. TORONTO (5)
These are two teams who are not on top of their games. The Bruins have won just three of their last 10 games, while the Maple Leafs have lost four of their last six. The Bruins have won three out of four against the Leafs, but each game was close. The Leafs are weak at goalie with James Reimer struggling in recent games.
Winner: Bruins in six games.
CHICAGO (1) vs. MINNESOTA (8)
The Blackhawks are loaded with talent, and are having a memorable season. They are a balanced team and have the best defense in the league, and it's not even close. The Wild under-achieved this season, but Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu have been strong contributors who are capable of making this series interesting.
Winner: Blackhawks in four games.
ANAHEIM (2) vs. DETROIT (7)
Detroit beat Anaheim twice on the road during the regular season. The Red Wings got a boost with the addition of Danny DeKeyser, and are hot right now with an effective goalie in Jimmy Howard. The Ducks are very good in the penalty, and have a solid pair of goalies. They finished eight in scoring.
Winner: Ducks in six games.
VANCOUVER (3) vs. SAN JOSE (6)
Both teams have struggled to score goals this season. The Sharks were active at the trade deadline to strengthen team speed. and won all three meetings with the Canucks this season. Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider’s injury status remains unclear.
Winner: Sharks in six games.
ST. LOUIS (4) vs. LOS ANGELES (5)
The Kings are still a loaded team who play well together, and are excellent at home. With an elite front line, the defending champions will put a great deal of pressure on St. Louis goalies. The Blues rely too much on right wing Chris Stewart, but enter the postseason on a high note, with only one loss in seven games.
Winner: Kings in five games.