Despite a surprising first-round exit from this year’s postseason, Tampa Bay is favored to bounce back and go all the way next season.
The Lightning are heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup next year after opening at 6-1 odds at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas on Saturday.
The Bruins, Maple Leafs and Golden Knights weren’t far behind at 10-1. The Sharks and Avalanche came in at 14-1, while the Blues, Capitals and Penguins were at 16-1.
The Red Wings, Ducks and Kings were long shots at 80-1, but the Senators had it the worst at 300-1.
Tampa Bay finished the regular season with 62 wins, tying the record set by the 1995-96 Red Wings. It’s worth noting, though, that Detroit didn’t win the Stanley Cup in 1996. The Lightning finished 62-16-4 overall behind a strong charge led by Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.
“Give our group a lot of credit for continuing to come to the rink everyday regardless of where we sat in the standings and just wanting to win,” Stamkos told the Boston Herald in April.
“That was unlike anything a lot of us have ever been through in our careers being clinched for so long and in a position where we knew we were going to be in the playoffs. We wanted to finish strong. … It was a result of us playing the right way and winning hockey games and it is no easy feat in the NHL with the parity we have, which I think is the greatest in sports.”
After opening as favorites to win it all at 2-1 odds ahead of the playoffs, however, the Lightning were eliminated in four games as the Blue Jackets completed a first-round sweep. A Presidents’ Trophy winner had never been swept in the first round before Tampa Bay was sent home.
Related slideshow: Best of the Stanley Cup playoffs (Provided by imagn)