Last Updated: 2018-02-13
With the Chicago Blackhawks on the brink of missing the NHL playoffs for the first time in a decade and the Vegas Golden Knights seemingly ready to compete for the Stanley Cup for the first time in their existence, it’s time for hockey bettors to get a reality check. The odds of a Golden Knights versus Tampa Bay Lightning matchup in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals is very slim despite what the sportsbooks say.
Vegas and Tampa Bay are currently favored to win the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively. But the fact of the matter is, the top seeds have not met lately in the championship matchup, with the Presidents’ Trophy (awarded to the team with the most points during the regular season) often serving as a jinx of sorts over the previous nine years.
During that recent stretch, only the 2012-13 Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup after winning the Presidents’ Trophy. In addition, the Washington Capitals have won the Presidents’ Trophy three times in the last eight years — including each of the past two — and did not even get to the Conference Finals once, losing to the eventual Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins both times.
In other words, do not pencil either the Golden Knights or Lightning into the Stanley Cup Finals just yet. After all, the Nashville Predators made it there a year ago as the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference before falling to the Penguins. Five years prior to that, the Los Angeles Kings became the first No. 8 seed ever to hoist the Stanley Cup. The amazing momentum swings within a seven-game series and a surprising lack of home-ice advantage in the postseason make the NHL playoffs arguably the best.
So when you watch Vegas host Chicago on Tuesday night before what should be another record crowd during a record-breaking season for an expansion team at T-Mobile Arena, remember this is only the regular season. The Golden Knights have been a great story on so many levels, but the Blackhawks had the top seed in the West last year and lost in the first round to the Predators. Watch some other teams fighting for the postseason in the Wild-Card races too because one of them might make a deeper run.
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