The NHL’s Eastern Conference has been a wide-open race for the majority of this season and that hasn’t changed during Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Carolina Hurricanes currently lead the New York Rangers 2-1 in their best-of-seven series, while the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning have already swept the Florida Panthers in four games during Round 2 action. NHL playoff odds like the Lightning to reach the Stanley Cup Final, but there have been some changes of late.
The Lightning opened the playoffs with the best odds to win the East at +350 and after their back-to-back series wins over Toronto and Florida they now boast NHL odds of -125. The Hurricanes have the second-highest odds from the East to play for the Stanley Cup at +150 and have seen their odds rise from +750 at the start of the playoffs.
New York might be the current value play to watch for with the way Igor Shesterkin has performed of late, and they boast odds of +800 to win the East. With that notion in mind, the public has bought into what the Rangers are offering as they’ve compiled 24.6% of tickets, which leads the Eastern Conference.
There are multiple reasons why the Rangers have consumed the most tickets in the East to this point, and it likely comes down to their price point and goalie, who was just nominated for the Vezina Trophy.
Behind the Rangers in tickets were the Florida Panthers, who are now off the board after being eliminated, and the Carolina Hurricanes at 11.4%. The Lightning rounded out the four teams that advanced to the second round, boasting 10.8% of tickets.
Shifting gears to the handle percentages in the East, the Rangers also boast the highest number at 26.1%. Only four teams that qualified for the postseason in the East had handles over 10%, which were the Rangers, Panthers at 17.6%, Lightning at 16.2%, and the Toronto Maple Leafs at 11.7%.
This has all helped create a scenario where the Rangers are now considered the biggest liability in the East.
With all of that being said, it’s hard not to look at the Lightning right now and wonder how a team is going to stop them in the East from reaching their third straight Stanley Cup Final, but there are some question marks about the health of Brayden Point, even if they did slaughter the Panthers without him.
NHL Eastern Conference Odds
|Team||Opening Odds||First Round||Second Round|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+350||+550||-125|
|New York Rangers||+1200||+800||+800|
|Florida Panthers||+1000||+250||Off the board|