Lord Stanley’s Cup has a good chance of returning to Florida for a third straight year.
That’s according to oddsmakers like FanDuel online sportsbook, who have the Tampa Bay Lightning (+700) and the Florida Panthers (+1000) among the four favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
The Colorado Avalanche are the favorites to win it all at +500, while the Vegas Golden Knights sit at +800.
Should either Florida team win the Stanley Cup, history will be made either for the franchise or the league.
Lightning looking good with Kucherov’s return
The Lightning is tied with the Panthers for the most points in the Eastern Conference. The repeat champs have gotten a boost from Nikita Kucherov‘s return from a lower-body procedure that kept him out from mid-October to early January.
Kucherov is the Lightning’s talisman–he missed the entire 2020 season due to a hip injury but returned for the playoffs and led the team in scoring. The team has won five of six since Kucherov returned to the ice.
Should the Lighting win the Stanley Cup this year, they will become one of only four teams to win the Stanley Cup three times in a row. The Islanders did it once, and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens did it twice.
The Lightning is the favorite to win the Eastern Conference, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has the second-best odds of winning the Vezina Trophy.
Panthers chugging along atop the Eastern Conference
While the Panthers aren’t the Vegas favorite to win the Cup, they are (arguably) the best team in hockey right now. The Hockey News senior writer Ryan Kennedy piled praise on the South Florida juggernaut in a recent Stanley Cup conversation with fellow writer Matt Larkin.
“In the East, Florida keeps chugging along; it’s hard to find a flaw in the Panthers,” Kennedy said. “I mean they just go about their business and they have everything you would want in a team. They have depth in every position.”
The Panthers have been on fire in January. The team started the month winning seven of nine, albeit against middling or poor teams. The Panthers don’t have a premier scorer; rather, they have seven players who’ve scored at least 10 goals.
Should the Panthers with the Cup, it will be the first time in franchise history. They made the finals in just their third season, but have not been back since.
The Panthers boast the best record in their conference. However, oddsmakers are a bit cool on the team’s chances of winning the Eastern Conference. The Lightning and the Maple Leafs are the favorites.
Winger Jonathan Huberdeau has the fourth-best odds of winning the Hart Memorial Trophy. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has the third-best odds to win the Vezina Trophy, and defenseman John Carlson is a long-shot to win the James Norris Memorial Trophy.