With almost one-third of the National Hockey League's 2008-09 regular season already played, the Detroit Wings and San Jose Sharks have emerged as the odds favorites to win the coveted Stanley Cup.
San Jose has actually been the competition pace-setter so far this year, with a record of 21 wins, three losses and one overtime loss, and is a 5.00 second-favorite at UK bookmaker Ladbrokes to win its first ever championship.
But Detroit, second in the Western Conference standings with 16 wins and four overtime losses from 24 games, is the 4.50 favorites, largely because of a reputation based on its dominant Stanley Cup-winning performance last season.
Eastern Conference teams the Pittsburgh Penguins, 8.00, Montreal Canadiens, 10.00, and Boston Bruins, 11.00 round out the list of the main contenders.
When it comes to betting options on the conference title, west is not necessarily best. Such is the dominance of Detroit (2.70 for the Western Conference title) and San Jose (3.00), that the next options, the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks, are way back on 11.00.
The situation is different in the east, however, where the competition is wide open. Reigning conference champ Pittsburgh, 4.00, is followed by Montreal, 4.50, Boston, 5.50, New York Rangers, 7.50 and Washington Capitals, 8.00. Just five points (2.5 wins) separates those teams at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
For those interested in a long shot (or if you have masochistic tendencies), 1980s power team the New York Islanders and the historically unsuccessful Atlanta Thrashers are both 401.00 for the Stanley Cup.