The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche earned the top two seeds in the NHL's Western Conference playoffs with their play during the round-robin stage, and they are also the two betting favorites to represent the West in the Stanley Cup Final. All Western Conference playoff games take place from Edmonton, with some best-of-7 quarterfinal series starting on Tuesday.
Vegas and Colorado played a winner-take-all game for the West's top seed on Saturday and the Golden Knights prevailed 4-3 in overtime. The Avs had tied the game late in regulation, but Alex Tuch won it 4:44 into OT. Had the NHL not used a round-robin format, Vegas would have been the conference's No. 2 seed as the Pacific Division champion.
Of course, the Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final in their expansion season but lost to Washington. Vegas is now the +260 West favorite and +600 Cup favorite. The Knights played the round-robin format without regular-season leading scorer Max Pacioretty, but he will be good to go against the No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their series late Tuesday night (10:30 ET).
One clear storyline of that series is Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner, who was acquired from Chicago at the trade deadline. The Hawks figured they had no shot at the playoffs back then and couldn't agree on a long-term extension with the impeding free agent. Vegas is a -340 series favorite with Chicago at +270. The Hawks are +1500 long shots to win the West.
Colorado entered the round robin as the No. 3 seed but was able to move up spot with wins over St. Louis and Dallas. The Avalanche haven't won the West since taking their last Stanley Cup title in 2001. They are +280 to take the conference title and -300 for their series against No. 7 Arizona (+230 for series, +1200 to win West). The Coyotes upset Nashville in the qualifying round. Colorado defeated Arizona in five games in the 2000 Western Conference quarterfinals in their only other playoff meeting.
St. Louis entered the restart as the No. 1 seed but dropped down to fourth by losing all three games. They are +450 to win the West; of course, the Blues did last year on their way to the first Cup title in franchise history. They are -210 for their series against No. 5 Vancouver (+180 for series, +1000 to win West). The Canucks have won all three previous playoff series vs. the Blues.
Finally, the No. 3 Stars face the No. 6 Calgary Flames. Dallas is +700 for the conference title and -115 for the series. Dallas had lost eight games in a row before winning its final round-robin matchup vs. the Blues on Sunday. The Stars were without No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop and star center Tyler Seguin on Sunday, both of whom were simply listed as "unfit to play." Calgary is -105 for the series and +900 for the conference title.
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