Riding the coattails of a dominant Game 7 performance, the St. Louis Blues improved their chances of winning the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals and remain the top threat to the favored Pittsburgh Penguins.
Head coach Ken Hitchcock’s squad unleashed a three-goal flurry in the first period on the Dallas Stars, and never looked back for a 6-1 victory Wednesday night in Dallas. Goalie Brian Elliott was sensational once again, tallying his playoff-best eighth victory, and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko racked up his seventh goal of the playoffs.
The pulverizing kept the Blues’ status as the biggest favorite to come out of the Western Conference, and their chances of winning the Cup increased from +325 to +200, according to the latest odds from Sportsbook.ag.
But the high-scoring Penguins still stand as the most dominant and favored team left in the postseason. Pittsburgh silenced previous Eastern Conference favorite Washington with a 4-3 overtime victory Tuesday in Game 6 of their series, and upping their shot at a Stanley Cup for the first time since 2009 from +220 to +200.
The Penguins, unlike the Blues, already know who they’ll face in the next round, the +575 and defending East champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Game 1 of the conference finals starts Friday in Pittsburgh, but despite the Penguins home-ice advantage the Lightning have been one of the most dominant teams of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay made quick work of both Detroit and the New York Islanders, wrapping up each series in five games. Right wing Nikita Kucherov is the top scorer in these playoffs with nine goals, and he and center Tyler Johnson are tied with a +11 plus-minus.
Meanwhile, the Blues won’t have to wait long to find their next opponent. The San Jose Sharks (+500) and Nashville Predators (+1200) will settle their series with Game 7 Thursday night in San Jose.
Odds to Win 2016 Stanley Cup Finals
Pittsburgh Penguins +150
St. Louis Blues +200
Tampa Bay Lightning +475
San Jose Sharks +500
Nashville Predators +1200