The 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs were set to begin on Wednesday night and at the time of the NHL suspending operations due to the coronavirus, the Vegas Golden Knights were the +500 favorites at William Hill sportsbook to win their first Cup. The Boston Bruins were +550 second-favorites to win their seventh and first since 2011. Boston was the only team to reach 100 points this regular season.
Of course, the Bruins were favored in last year's Finals against the St. Louis Blues, who won Game 7 in Boston 4-1 on June 12, 2019, behind then-rookie netminder Jordan Binnington for the first Cup in franchise history. The Blues were +800 to repeat when the NHL season was suspended.
Vegas made the Stanley Cup Finals in its expansion 2017-18 season but lost to Washington – the past two champions have been first-time winners. It's still not clear if the NHL will be able to stage any postseason this year and as more days pass, the less and less likely it is. The latest the Stanley Cup has ever been awarded is June 24, in 1995 and 2013.
There were reports this week that the league was attempting to find neutral sites around the country to stage the playoffs almost like an Olympic tournament. Two cities in particular, Grand Forks in North Dakota and Manchester in New Hampshire, were mentioned. The NHL's self-quarantine date is currently April 15 but will be pushed back again.
Here is what the first round of the playoffs would have looked like via the current NHL standings. The Tampa Bay Lightning (+600), Colorado Avalanche (+850) were the other Cup favorites at William Hill.
- Boston Bruins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: Jackets won both regular-season meetings.
- Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: Leafs won two of three regular-season meetings.
- Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes: Teams split four meetings.
- Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Pens led season series 2-1.
- Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets: Jets won both meetings.
- Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames: Flames led season series 3-1.
- St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators: Nashville won all four meetings.
- Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars: Dallas won all four meetings.