Will Lightning win Eastern Conference?
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a special regular season in 2018-19, but hit a thud in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs as they were shockingly swept. Can Tampa Bay bounce back in the playoffs this season and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals?
According to oddsmakers, Tampa Bay is a 3/1 favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Toronto comes in next at 5/1, while Boston is set at 6/1. Florida has odds of 8/1. Two teams, Washington and Pittsburgh, are at 10/1. A full list can be found at our NHL Future Odds Page.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The regular season was dynamite for the Lightning as they finished with a 62-16-4 record, but the playoffs were a much different story as they were swept in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets and were outscored 19-8. Nikita Kucherov led the NHL in scoring last season with 128 points and will be joined by a slew of dynamic forwards. Goaltending should also be in great shape for Tampa Bay with Andrei Vasilevskiy as he went 39-10-4 with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. The Lightning will undoubtedly be one of the best teams in the NHL during the regular season as long as they stay relatively healthy, but will need an added level of toughness if they hope for better postseason success.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs finished the regular season last year 46-28-8, but fell short in the playoffs as they lost in seven games to Boston with a 5-1 road defeat ending their season. Toronto has a very promising future, however, as long as it can shore up some holes. Center Mitch Marner led the way with 26 goals and 68 assists, while fellow centers John Tavares (47G, 41A) and Auston Matthews 37G, 36A) will also produce heavily again this season. Frederik Andersen will be back in net after going 36-16-7 with a 2.77 GAA and .917 save percentage in 2018-19.
The Bruins withstood a number of injuries last season and were never truly healthy, but advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals regardless. Boston finished the regular season 49-24-9 before besting the Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round of the playoffs. The strong run continued in the second round as they downed Columbus in six games before taking down Carolina in a clean sweep. In a back-and-forth seven-game Stanley Cup Finals series, Boston fell short as it lost 4-1 at home against St. Louis in Game 7. Brad Marchand paced the Bruins last year with 36 goals and 64 assists over 79 games. David Pastrnak contributed 38 goals and 43 assists over 66 games. Tuukka Rask enters another season as Boston's starting goalie after going 27-13-5 last year with a 2.48 GAA and .912 save percentage.