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Vegas says Caps have best chance to win it all

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Vegas says Caps have best chance to win it all

The Capitals have only played a quarter of their 82-game season but  the oddsmakers in Las Vegas already are giving them the best chance of winning the 2016 Stanley Cup.

Really.

In the span of one month – a month in which they went 9-3-1 – the Caps went from having 11/1 odds to having 13/2 odds to bring their first-ever championship to D.C. By the way, the Caps are also being picked to win the Eastern Conference.
As for individual awards, Alex Ovechkin has 12/1 odds of winning the Hart Trophy as MVP and John Carlson has a 15/1 shot of winning the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.

Take a look at the latest odds from Bovada:

Odds to win 2016 Stanley Cup
Washington Capitals                       13/2
Dallas Stars                                      7/1
New York Rangers                          15/2
Chicago Blackhawks                        9/1
Montreal Canadiens                        12/1
Anaheim Ducks                                14/1
Los Angeles Kings                           14/1
St. Louis Blues                                 14/1
Tampa Bay Lightning                        16/1
Minnesota Wild                                  20/1
Pittsburgh Penguins                           20/1
San Jose Sharks                                20/1
Nashville Predators                            25/1
New York Islanders                            25/1
Boston Bruins                                     28/1
Detroit Red Wings                              28/1
Ottawa Senators                                 28/1
Arizona Coyotes                                  40/1
Columbus Blue Jackets                       40/1
Vancouver Canucks                             50/1
Winnipeg Jets                                      50/1
Florida Panthers                                   66/1
Calgary Flames                                   75/1
Colorado Avalanche                           100/1
New Jersey Devils                              100/1
Philadelphia Flyers                              100/1
Buffalo Sabres                                     150/1
Carolina Hurricanes                             200/1
Edmonton Oilers                                  200/1
Toronto Maple Leafs                            200/1

Odds to win the 2016 Eastern Conference
Washington Capitals                  13/4
New York Rangers                     4/1
Montreal Canadiens                   6/1
Tampa Bay Lightning                 8/1
Pittsburgh Penguins                   9/1
Detroit Red Wings                     12/1
New York Islanders                    12/1
Boston Bruins                            14/1
Ottawa Senators                        14/1
Columbus Blue Jackets             18/1
Florida Panthers                        33/1                             
New Jersey Devils                     50/1
Philadelphia Flyers                    50/1
Buffalo Sabres                           75/1                             
Carolina Hurricanes                   100/1
Toronto Maple Leafs                  100/1               

Odds to win the 2016 Western Conference
Dallas Stars                              13/4
Chicago Blackhawks                19/4                             
Anaheim Ducks                        13/2
Los Angeles Kings                   13/2                             
St. Louis Blues                          7/1                               
San Jose Sharks                       9/1
Minnesota Wild                         10/1                             
Nashville Predators                   11/1                             
Arizona Coyotes                        22/1
Vancouver Canucks                   25/1
Winnipeg Jets                            25/1                             
Calgary Flames                         40/1                             
Edmonton Oilers                        75/1                             
Colorado Avalanche                  100/1                           

Odds to Win the 2016 Atlantic Division
Montreal Canadiens                   2/5
Tampa Bay Lightning                 5/1
Ottawa Senators                        15/2
Boston Bruins                            12/1
Detroit Red Wings                     12/1
Florida Panthers                        20/1
Buffalo Sabres                          100/1
Toronto Maple Leafs                 100/1
 
Odds to win the 2016 Metropolitan Division
New York Rangers                     3/2
Washington Capitals                  3/2
Pittsburgh Penguins                  5/1
New York Islanders                    6/1                   
New Jersey Devils                     33/1
Columbus Blue Jackets             40/1
Philadelphia Flyers                    50/1
Carolina Hurricanes                  100/1
 
Odds to win the 2016 Pacific Division
Los Angeles Kings                    7/4
Anaheim Ducks                         2/1
San Jose Sharks                       7/2
Arizona Coyotes                        6/1
Vancouver Canucks                   9/1
Calgary Flames                         50/1                 
Edmonton Oilers                       75/1
 
Odds to win the 2016 Central Division
Dallas Stars                              3/2
St. Louis Blues                          2/1
Chicago Blackhawks                 9/2
Minnesota Wild                         7/1
Nashville Predators                   7/1                   
Winnipeg Jets                           25/1
Colorado Avalanche                  200/1

Odds to win the 2016 Hart Trophy (MVP)
Patrick Kane (CHI)                                2/1
Jamie Benn (DAL)                                 5/1
Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)                         6/1
Tyler Seguin (DAL)                                5/1
Sidney Crosby  (PIT)                             12/1
Alexander Ovechkin (WAS)                    12/1
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)                       12/1
John Tavares (NYI)                                12/1
Carey Price (MON)                                 16/1
Steven Stamkos (TB)                             16/1
Max Pacioretty (MON)                           20/1
Ryan Getzlaf (ANA)                               25/1
Claude Giroux (PHI)                               28/1
Johnny Gaudreau (CAL)                         35/1
Erik Karlsson (OTT)                                40/1

Odds to Win the 2015 Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
Artemi Panarin (CHI)                              3/2
Max Domi (ARI)                                     5/2
Dylan Larkin (DET)                                9/2
Connor McDavid (EDM)                        13/2
Jack Eichel (BUF)                                  9/1
Mike Condon (MON)                              10/1
Colton Parayko (STL)                            15/1
Sam Bennett (CAL)                                18/1
Oscar Lindberg (NYR)                            25/1
Sam Reinhart (BUF)                               30/1
Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG)                              35/1

Odds to win the 2016 Norris Trophy (top defenseman)
John Klingberg (DAL)                            11/4
Erik Karlsson (OTT)                               3/1
PK Subban (MON)                                 9/2
Victor Hedman (TB)                               9/1
Ryan Suter (MIN)                                   10/1
Brent Burns (SJ)                                    12/1
Drew Doughty (LA)                                12/1
Kris Letang (PIT)                                    12/1
Shea Weber (NASH)                              14/1
John Carlson (WAS)                               15/1
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI)                   16/1
Justin Faulk (CAR)                                  20/1
Roman Josi (NAS)                                  20/1

MORE CAPITALS: Wilson escorts elephant out of locker room

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are not happy with Caps' Lars Eller

The Toronto Maple Leafs are not happy with Caps' Lars Eller

On Saturday, the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals faced off against one of the hottest young teams in the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was viewed as a marquee matchup and it certainly lived up to its billing with both teams battling in a tight, well-played game.

In the end, Toronto walked away as the 4-2 victors in one of their better wins of the young season, but not everyone left that game impressed.

A team that already boasted super-star talent Auston Matthews added John Tavares in the offseason as a free agent giving the Maple Leafs a formidable one, two punch at center. For most of the game, the Caps were able to shut down that center tandem.

Lars Eller was asked after the game how the Caps were able to keep the Leafs’ big stars in check and he indicated that perhaps Tavares and Matthews were not as formidable a pair as they had been made out to be.

“We’re used to playing against [Sidney Crosby] and [Evgeni Malkin],” Eller said. “Everything kind of drops from there so it’s not that special. It’s a good team like a lot of others. They’ll probably be a playoff team, I think.”

Not surprisingly, that quote caught Toronto’s attention, especially forward Nazem Kadri.

Per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Kadri called Eller’s comments “bulletin board material.”

With 12 points in seven games, the Maple Leafs currently boast the top record in the league. Toronto is far from perfect, however, and their defense remains a major question mark in whether this team is a true Stanley Cup contender.

But as to whether or not they are a playoff team? That seems like a pretty safe bet.

The Caps and Maple Leafs will meet twice more this season on Jan. 23 and Feb. 21. Both games are in Toronto.  

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Capitals are sticking with Chandler Stephenson on the top line… for now

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals are sticking with Chandler Stephenson on the top line… for now

With Tom Wilson still serving a 20-game suspension, Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden has the difficult task of finding a wing to complement his top line of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. For the first four games of the season, that player was Brett Connolly.

On Saturday, however, he changed things up and went with Chandler Stephenson instead.

Just 18 seconds into the game, Stephenson made his head coach look very smart as he finished off a 2-on-1 with Kuznetsov to score his first goal of the season.

“Obviously, the start was great,” Reirden said after the game.

Stephenson is an incredibly fast skater and the extra speed seemed to add another dimension to that line that opponents had to contend with, and it led to both of the Caps’ goals on the night.

In addition to Stephenson’s goal, Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty in the second period, and Washington scored on the resulting power play.

“Those guys are a lot of fun to play with,” Stephenson said. “They just know where to be and can find each other. I've just got to get the puck to them and just go to the net with your stick on the ice, and they'll find you.”

The top line’s success was a matter of finding instant chemistry as Stephenson had very little time to adjust. The Caps were off on Friday following back-to-back games, and Reirden did not make the switch of putting Stephenson on the top until Saturday’s morning skate.

Putting a new top line together with little time to practice does not seem like an ideal scenario, but according to Kuznetsov, the level of familiarity between all the players made the adjustment quick and easy.

“It doesn't matter with who you play,” he said. “In this locker room, we can communicate with anybody. We don't have a first line, we don't have a fourth line. We try and roll all lines.”

Reirden seemed pleased with the new trio after the game saying, “They did a number of good things during the game as well, so they I thought accomplished a lot. I thought [Stephenson] brought the speed on the forecheck and was able to at least go after their defense a little bit and force some turnovers that Kuznetsov and [Ovechkin] were able to at least get some opportunities from. So I think that's important to have him in that situation.”

Reirden was happy enough with the top line’s performance to keep them together. The team is off Monday, but Stephenson remained on the top line during Sunday’s practice.

But so long as Wilson remains out, finding the right match for the top line will remain a work in progress.

Said Reirden, “We’ll continue to try to put together our four lines that give us the best chance.”

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