Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Lightning early favorite to win 2020 Stanley Cup

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We’re just hours removed from the St. Louis Blues’ first Stanley Cup in franchise history and we already have a favorite for next year’s champions.

The early odds through the world’s largest Las Vegas sports book, Westgate Sportsbook, has the Tampa Bay Lightning sitting pretty at 6/1 odds.

The Lightning were the favorites on the ice this year after a 62-win season that tied an NHL record for most victories during the regular season. But Tampa received a shock exit in Round 1, getting swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Vegas Golden Knights follow closely behind at 7/1. Vegas, like Tampa, was bounced in Round 1 by the San Jose Sharks, but boast a team that now includes Mark Stone, who signed a big-money extension when he was acquired at the trade deadline in February. And it’s safe to assume, given recent history, that the Golden Knights will be looking to improve further this offseason.

Three teams sit at 10/1 odds, including this year’s Stanley Cup runners up in the Boston Bruins.

Boston lost in Game 7 to the Blues on Wednesday but will have the same core and the same goalie in Tuukka Rask heading into next season. They also have some good, young talent and could do well by keeping Marcus Johansson, who joined the team at the deadline.

The Colorado Avalanche, who pick at the No. 4 spot at the 2019 NHL Draft, join the Bruins at 10/1, as do the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This year’s Cup champs?

The Blues, who were in last place in the NHL on Jan. 3, are at 14/1 to repeat this season’s result.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Fact File: Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals

The New Jersey Devils didn’t hold the lead for a single moment in the first three games of the Stanley Cup finals, a trend continued until 7:56 of the third period when the Devils scored the first goal of the game.

That lead lasted a whopping 62 seconds, but the Devils proved resilient by earning a 3-1 victory to force a Game 5.

Here are some interesting facts to chew on:

— This has truly been the year of the road team. The visitors now have a 47-37 record in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the most road wins ever recorded in a single year of playoff hockey. The old record of 46 wins was set back in 1987.

— The New Jersey Devils are still looking for their first power-play goal of the Stanley Cup finals. They’re now 0-for-15 with the man advantage.

— With his empty-netter, Ilya Kovalchuk is now tied with Anze Kopitar, Claude Giroux, and Danny Briere for the league lead in playoff goals (eight).

— If the Los Angeles Kings win Game 5, they’ll set a record for the most road victories in a single playoff run. Their current total of 10 has them in a tie with the 2004 Calgary Flames, 2000 New Jersey Devils, and 1995 Devils.

— The last team to win the Stanley Cup at home was the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks.

— The Devils are just the sixth team to win Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals after dropping the first three games.

PHT Morning Skate: Coyotes, Kings have yet to trail in a 2012 playoff series

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Kings and Coyotes are two very similar teams, but Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown thinks they have an edge in aggression. (Los Angeles Times)

Wayne Gretzky has links to both the Kings and Coyotes. (Denver Post)

Here’s another thing the Kings and Coyotes have in common: Neither has trailed in a playoff series this year. That’ll change on Sunday. (Arizona Republic/Phoenix Gazette)

A breakdown of the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals. (The Bergen Record)

The NHL.com writers and editors share their current picks for the Conn Smythe Trophy at the midway point of the playoffs. (NHL.com)

Not all the Devils players are attempting to grow a playoff beard. (Newark Star-Ledger)

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has sold the OHL Mississauga St. Michael’s Major. (Ottawa Citizen)

David Clarkson is a big X-factor going into the Eastern Conference Finals. (NHL.com)

Has John Tortorella hurt his image in this Stanley Cup playoffs run to the point where he no longer has a decent shot of coaching the US Olympic team in 2014? (Calgary Sun)

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: PHT’s Round 2 picks — in five words

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We were hesitant to use the “five words” gimmick again after what transpired in Round 1 — everybody but Dadoun stunk out the joint — but decided to press on because hey, coming up with new ideas is hard.

So the same rules apply for Round 2.

We. Only. Used. Five. Words.

Western Conference

No. 2 St. Louis vs. No. 8 Los Angeles

Ryan Dadoun (Blues in 5): Blues’ goalies will outshine Quick.

James O’Brien (Kings in 6): Kings’ top talent mutes Blues.

Joe Yerdon (Blues in 6): No one scores, Blues win.

Jason Brough (Blues in 7): Not picking against Blues again.

Mike Halford (Kings in 6): Kings reminiscent of ’04 Flames.

No. 3 Phoenix vs. No. 4 Nashville

Dadoun (Preds in 6): Late acquisitions are propelling Predators.

O’Brien (Preds in 6): Pekka Rinne ain’t Corey Crawford.

Yerdon (Preds in 6): Preds are ‘Yotes, but better.

Brough (Preds in 6): ‘Yotes happy to be there.

Halford (Preds in 5): Trotz finally makes conference finals.

Eastern Conference

No. 1 New York Rangers vs. No. 7 Washington Capitals

Dadoun (Rangers in 7): Holtby can’t carry Capitals forever.

O’Brien (Rangers in 6): Holtby can’t do it alone.

Yerdon (Rangers in 7): Honestly, flip a coin here.

Brough (Rangers in 7): Sens scare good for Blueshirts.

Halford (Capitals in 7): Bouncing Bruins gave Caps swagger.

No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 6 New Jersey Devils

Dadoun (Flyers in 6): Flyers: My new Cup favorite.

O’Brien (Flyers in 5): Philly makes Marty look old.

Yerdon (Flyers in 5): Your difference maker? Ilya Bryzgalov.

Brough (Flyers in 6): Beating Pens? Impressive. Florida? Less.

Halford (Flyers in 6): Flyers have Giroux. Devils don’t.

Round 1 results:

Dadoun 6-for-8
O’Brien 3-for-8
Yerdon 4-for-8
Brough 3-for-8
Halford 3-for-8

And yes, we all write about hockey for a living.