The Colorado Avalanche opened the 2021-22 NHL season as the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They held that role throughout the entire season and then went on to actually win it as the favorites. Unsurprisingly, they opened the current season as the favorites to win it all. They've held that role until now as they finally have some company at the top of the odds leaderboard. That company is the Boston Bruins. Both the Bruins and the Avalanche are now +550 to win the Cup, making them co-favorites at BetMGM.
Colorado has been mediocre, but remain dangerous
The fact that the Colorado Avalanche are still one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup says more about their reputation and oddsmakers' respect for them than their performance this season. If the season ended today, Colorado would just barely squeak into the playoffs, occupying the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Even entering the season, we knew that Colorado wasn't the same team that won the Cup last year. Key forwards Andre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri departed in free agency. They lost starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Washington Capitals as well. On top of the roster turnover, they've also been bitten hard by the injury bug.
Captain Gabriel Landeskog has yet to play this season after knee surgery in October. He's expected to be out for at least another month. Nathan MacKinnon has missed almost a month due to an upper body injury, though his return is getting close. Valeri Nichushkin missed six weeks earlier, returned, and then re-injured himself and is now expected to miss more time. Defensemen Bowen Byram and Josh Manson are injured and not close to returning. Backup goaltender Pavel Francouz is now injured as well. That's three top forwards, two good defensemen and an important backup goaltender all currently out for this team.
Of course, the betting odds reflect that Colorado is one of those teams that just needs to stay afloat. As long as they get into the playoffs, they'd likely be favored in every series they play. The hope is that they are healthier at that time. There's also a very good chance they add some pieces at the trade deadline where they'll have some more salary cap flexibility.
While it may not seem like you're buying the Avalanche at a discount, they opened as +400 favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Now, after almost half a season where they've stayed afloat despite terrible luck, you can bet them at +550 to win it all. Of course, repeating as champions was always going to be hard, but if Colorado gets healthier in the coming weeks, this is as good of a number as you'll get on them.
Boston on the other hand has been superb
While the Avalanche have been grinding and struggling their way through the first half of the season, the same cannot be said about the Boston Bruins. Boston is far and away the best team in the NHL at this point, seven points and 100 winning percentage points better than the second-best team in the league.
The Bruins have just four regulation losses on the season through 35 games, and none of those losses have come at home. Through 20 games at TD Garden, the Bruins are 18-0-2, picking up 38 of a possible 40 points in the standings. Overall, the Bruins have points in 14 of their last 15 games, going 11-1-3 over that stretch.
Boston has a +57 goal differential on the season, almost doubling the second-best mark in the league. A deeper look at their underlying numbers raises no flags. Boston ranks third in the league in expected goal rate and ranks top-six in shot attempt share, scoring chances and high danger chances.
Linus Ullmark has been absolutely superb between the pipes, posting an insane 1.90 goals against average and 0.938 save percentage. While it's hard to envision him maintaining those numbers for the entire season, he's the current favorite to win the Vezina Trophy at BetMGM with +250 odds. On the other side of the ice, if Connor McDavid wasn't an absolute machine, David Pastrnak would be making a good case to win the Hart Trophy as league MVP. Pastrnak currently has the fourth-best odds to win the award at 16-to-1.
It was expected to be somewhat of a struggle for Boston to open the season. Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy opened the season injured. Both returned quicker than expected and the Bruins have been rolling since the first puck drop of the season. Boston opened with 25-to-1 odds to win the Cup, but those are down to +550.
As a result of Boston's success, their first year head coach Jim Montgomery has become a sizable favorite to win the Jack Adams Trophy as the league's best coach. Montgomery is +250 to win the award. No other coach has odds better than +700.
The rest of the Stanley Cup odds
While Colorado and Boston headline the list, the league feels rather wide open this season. Here are some other teams near the top of the Stanley Cup odds at BetMGM:
Boston Bruins (+550)
Colorado Avalanche (+550)
Carolina Hurricanes (+900)
Toronto Maple Leafs (+900)
Vegas Golden Knights (+900)
New Jersey Devils (12-to-1)
Tampa Bay Lightning (14-to-1)
Calgary Flames (18-to-1)
Dallas Stars (18-to-1)
Pittsburgh Penguins (18-to-1)
New York Rangers (18-to-1)
Edmonton Oilers (20-to-1)
Minnesota Wild (22-to-1)
Florida Panthers (25-to-1)