The Road to the Stanley Cup Begins

May 6, 2021

Hockey, like most professional sports, is extremely competitive at the professional level and can be very exciting to watch. However, the rules can be a bit confusing to some newcomers. If you know how hockey is played and how the National Hockey League is set up, read the story to the right. If not, or you just need a refresher, read the history of the game to the left.

History of Hockey Overview

Hockey consists of a 60-minute game broken into three periods. There are about 20 players per team, but only 6 players on the ice at any one time. One of the players can be the goaltender, but this isn’t required. The objective is to get the puck, a flat black disc, into the goal on the opponent’s side. Hockey is a faced-paced game. Players are only on the ice for about a minute before they switch out for other players. They can switch at any time, but players normally switch out during safe points in the game like when the puck is far from their goal. A hockey game takes about two and a half hours from start to finish. Because of the pandemic, the NHL dropped the season length to 56 games and realigned the four divisions. The top four teams from each division get into the playoffs, and teams are eliminated as they lose games. The championship game is for the Stanley Cup.

Photo courtesy of NHL.com.

The Stanley Cup stands approximately 35 inches tall. It’s made of silver and nickel alloy, but unlike most other sports, a new cup is not made each year. Instead, the team earns a stripe on the bottom of the cup and gets to keep the cup, until someone else wins it. As new champions earn a stripe, the oldest stripe is removed and placed in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Stanley Cup is named for its donor, Lord Stanley of Preston who was the governor-general of Canada when the cup was first awarded in 1893. 

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2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

As of this writing, the team that sports bettors in Vegas have appeared to pick as their Stanley Cup champion is the Colorado Avalanche. Already starting the season extremely well, the Avalanche have only gotten better, dethroning Tampa Bay Lightning at the top of the power rankings. After NHL trade week, the Avalanche have only added depth to their team as they head into the last few games of their season. Avalanche is the resounding favorite for the Stanley Cup game, although there is much disagreement on who the runner-up will be. 

As of May 6, twelve teams have clinched playoff spots. They are as follows: Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, Minnesota Wilds, and the Colorado Avalanche. The rules for the 2021 playoffs state that the top three teams in the four divisions will proceed to the playoffs. This puts the Winnipeg Jets into playoff territory and leaves 4 playoff spots up for grabs.

Graph courtesy of Moneypuck.com (As of May 6, 2021)

Currently, the betting markets have the Washington Capitals as the second-highest percent to win the Stanley cup. This position, however, has changed hands five times between  April 24 and April 26, so it is reasonable to expect that the Capitals might not be in the final game. It’s still too early to pick a Stanley cup winner. Despite this, here are the top 4 most likely teams to play the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup game this year. The Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and the Carolina Hurricanes. The betting market has these as top contenders, and all the power rankings suggest these are teams that can make it to the end of the playoffs, where the other ones might not have the endurance to play through all the games.

 

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