THEY’ll have to wait until October 7 against the New York Rangers to officially raise the Stanley Cup banner above their home ice, but punters have wasted no time making the NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks the favourite to go back-to-back next season.
The Blackhawks knocked over the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games, coming back from 2-1 down to win their third Stanley Cup in six years.
It’s an incredible effort and has meant they are the only team in hockey to be under double figure odds for the 2016 title, our friends at Bovada.lv installing them as $6 favourites to go back-to-back.
The Blackhawks have a storied history as one of the original franchises in the league.
They won in 2010 and 2013 and had superstar defender Duncan Keith to thank most for their win in 2015.
He was a monster, playing more than 700 minutes, scoring three goals and registering an incredible 18 assists to be named the post season Most Valuable Player.
After taking a 1-0 series lead by knocking over the Lightning 2-1, Chicago was on the wrong end of a pair of one goal defeats, 4-3 and 3-2.
It was the first time in years that the first three games of a Stanley Cup series had been decided by just one goal and it wasn’t about to end there, with the Blackhawks evening the series with a 2-1 result.
It was the same scoreline in the next match, leaving them one game away from glory.
They made no mistake, the defence, led by Keith and goaltender Corey Crawford, clamping down to shut out the Lightning in a 2-0 win.
“It’s unbelievable how close the series was, how one little mistake can make the difference,” Keith said.
It’s the greatest period of sustained success for a Chicago sporting franchise since a fellow named Michael Jordan was running around a basketball court in number 23 in the early and mid 1990s and rivals hockey’s greatest dynasties.
Fitting that the ageing, but battle hardened roster is favoured to win it again.
And they think they can as well
The beaten Lightning are $11 second favourites, equal with the New York Rangers, but they will want to get the Steve Stamkos situation sorted before they look ahead to 2015-16.
Their star went goalless in the finals, with many saying he choked and he is out of contract, with some saying he could be out the door.
But the reality of it is the whole line up choked in the face of a bullocking Chicago defence that was just too big strong and good.
“I want to win a championship with this team and this group,” Stamkos said after the series, making all the right noises.
“It’s been a great ride this year.
“It’s (his future) not on the front of my mind right now, and we’ll have some talks whether it’s the next day or next week.
“I don’t know but we’ll definitely be getting something worked out, hopefully shortly.
“I know there has been a lot of stuff written and said and I guess when you get this far in the playoffs, you have to start talking about other things to come up with a story.
“But everyone is entitled to their opinion.
“We know what goes on in here.
We’ll believe that when he signs on the dotted line.
The Rangers lost to the Lightning in seven games in the precursor to the Stanley Cup finals.
They might be equal second favourites, but don’t tell defender Dan Girardi.
“I hate to say it, but I’m getting older and the window might be closing,” the 31 year old said.
“We have such a good group of guys here.
“It’s really disappointing that we couldn’t get another shot at the Cup this year.”
A trio of teams in Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and St Louis Blues share the next line of betting at $13, while the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins are rated $15 chances.
There are only four other teams under $20, the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators, both at $17 and the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals at $19.
The one big surprise is the Edmonton Oilers rated a $34 chance.
They finished with the third worst record in all of hockey, with just 24 wins, but hold the number one draft pick, which they will surely use on surefire star Connor McDavid, who has been ordained by none other than all time great Wayne Gretzky as “as good as I’ve seen in the last 30 years.”
He hasn’t even been drafted yet – that will happen on Saturday – but the bookies and punters clearly reckon he is going to make a big difference to the Oilers chances of making the post season, or causing a ruckus in the Stanley Cup finals as an only slight long shot.
Whatever happens, here at BettingPlanet.com we’re already gearing up for a huge season on the ice.
2015/16 NHL Stanley Cup markets
Chicago Blackhawks ($6)
Tampa Bay Lightning ($11)
Anaheim Ducks ($13)
Los Angeles Kings ($13)
St. Louis Blues ($13)
Montreal Canadiens ($15)
Pittsburgh Penguins ($15)
Minnesota Wild ($17)
Nashville Predators ($17)
Boston Bruins ($19)
Washington Capitals ($19)
New York Islanders ($23)
Winnipeg Jets ($26)
Detroit Red Wings ($29)
Columbus Blue Jackets ($34)
Edmonton Oilers ($34)
Calgary Flames ($41)
San Jose Sharks ($41)
Vancouver Canucks ($41)
Dallas Stars ($51)
Ottawa Senators ($51)
Colorado Avalanche ($67)
New Jersey Devils ($67)
Philadelphia Flyers ($67)
Toronto Maple Leafs ($67)
Florida Panthers ($76)
Arizona Coyotes ($101)
Buffalo Sabres ($101)
Carolina Hurricanes ($101)