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Friday, 14 December, 2018

NY Rangers' route to Stanley Cup gives them great chance

Blues big value to end long wait for title

Vladimir Tarasenko (91) is St Louis Blues top scorer
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NY Rangers at Montreal
Premier Sports, midnight Wednesday
San Jose at Edmonton
Premier Sports, 3am Thursday

As the gruelling battle for Lord Stanley's Cup commences several teams will fancy their chances of putting together the 16 wins needed to get their hands on the trophy.

Regular-season champions Washington head the betting, but they have famously struggled in the post-season, getting no further than the second round since 1998.

Russian goal machine Alex Ovechkin and his teammates face a tough assignment if they are to finally realise their potential. Defending champions Pittsburgh, who put the Capitals out last season, are possible second-round opponents, and even if they reach the final an open-looking Western Conference is sure to throw up a strong candidate.

New York Rangers could be a better bet from the East. By claiming the first wildcard spot they are effectively shifted into the less competitive Atlantic Division and if they can see off Montreal in the first round their reward could be an easier route to the final.

In the West, Chicago, three-times Stanley Cup winners since 2010, have had a strong season and will be keen to avenge last year's first-round playoff exit.

Anaheim caught the eye by finishing the regular season with a 14-game stretch without a defeat in regulation time. However St Louis look a great value bet to lift the Cup for the first time in their history.

The Blues finished the season third in their division, but a mid-season coaching change turned around their form. They boast the league's best defensive record since hiring Mike Yeo, and a strong defence is key to a cup challenge.

St Louis face Yeo's former team Minnesota in the first round.

NY Rangers to win Stanley Cup
1pt each-way 14-1 general
St Louis to win Stanley Cup
1pt each-way 25-1 general

The Blues finished the season third in their division, but a mid-season coaching change turned around their form
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