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A look at some Stanley Cup odds

Who is too high? Who is too low?

Florida Panthers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Pat McAfee tweeted this graphic and it caught my eye, so on an off day why not dive into it a little bit?

To be honest, I’ve never heard of the source, @numberFire an account that describes themselves as “A next-generation sports analytics platform for fantasy and betting”. But, hey, Sam Ventura follows them, so they can’t be all bad even though some of these numbers are...interesting to say the least.

The Penguins check in as the ninth most likely team to win the Stanley Cup, with just a 2.28% probability according to this model. That’s just one opinion, The Athletic’s current outlook has a 5% chance for Pittsburgh to win it all, which doesn’t sound that high but is still over double.

A part of the reason that Pittsburgh will likely have a low statistical odds of winning the Cup is their likely difficult playoff path. As we’ve detailed, the playoff picture is developing to show a Penguins vs. New York Rangers first round. Facing a possible 105ish point team with the likely Vezina (if not Hart) trophy winner is a tough challenge. If the Pens pass that test, Round 2 figures to be either Carolina (a projected 114 point team) or the club good enough to beat them and have the added confidence boost. Survive that and the Eastern Conference Final could possibly be whichever of the Florida/Tampa/Toronto troika that emerges.

Extremely difficult path leads to those low odds, but it beats being the Flyers who check in with Cup chances equal to John Blutarski’s GPA (zero point zero). Who else should we buy or sell based on the above?

Buy

-Colorado: at 10.76% and only the fourth most likely team to win? I’d take the over on that action all day long. They’re up on the rest of the Western Conference by 12 points at the moment, and may well win the Presidents Trophy. If the playoffs started today, the Avs would play Dallas and then the STL/MIN winner, which, yeah sign me up for that early round path all day long, it doesn’t sound that daunting.

-Tampa: at 5.88%, I would take that action happily. There are 16 teams who make the playoffs, and if every team had a 1-in-16 equal chance, that would be 6.25%. You don’t think the two time defending Lightning have at least a punchers chance as good as anyone else? (Especially with Andrei Vasilievskiy being 34-14 with a .932 save%, six shutouts and 1.90 GAA in the last two post-seasons). The Atlantic will be the toughest playoff path in the league for the two teams that end up in the #2/3 first round matchup, which is concerning, but given this rate, Tampa is an easy take.

Sell

-Florida: @numberFire is clearly buying what the Panthers are selling, making them a whopping favorite at 29.12% to win the Cup. Florida has scored a ton, they have a great team as we saw the other night. But at this rate and odds? They have to be a sell. It could be this high since, for the moment, the Panthers have a lead in first place and may get Boston or Washington instead of playing Toronto or Tampa in the first round. That makes sense, but I don’t think to the high extent it is right now. Florida has some veterans sprinkled around the lineup, but they are a very untested playoff team and franchise that hasn’t been there or even won a round in a long, long time (let’s not say since when). Going all the way without the experience of knowing what it takes is often not possible in the NHL playoffs.

-Calgary: The Flames are really good, and Jacob Markstrom has eight shutouts and is totally the type of goalie who could take over a series or that you look up a few rounds into the playoffs and he’s on one of those runs. However, Calgary as the top Western team and a probability higher then all of Nashville + St. Louis + Minnesota + Vegas + Dallas? Not sure about that one. Also, Calgary has four really good players (Andrew Mangiapane, Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau) who all have 23+ goals. They only have one other player (Blake Coleman, 12) in double digits, though Tyler Toffoli will get there. But one cold week from these star players, which as Penguin fans know all too well can happen, Calgary could also be knocked out somewhat quickly.

What do you think, whose odds are high, whose are low and what is just right? Do you buy the Penguins with below a 3% chance of winning the Cup right now or should it be a little higher?