NHL: The race for Lord Stanley’s Mug
The NHL playoffs are right around the corner. The last day of the regular season is Saturday April 6th which means the playoffs will commence in the second week April. We’ve got a lot to get to so let us jump right in and examine the NHL playoff odds.
In the Eastern Conference the Tampa Bay Lighting have already clinched the President’s trophy. And with less than 10 games to go the only other team that has secured their spot is the Boston Bruins.
In the Western Conference, Calgary, Winnipeg and San Jose are all in which means that 11 of the 16 playoffs spots are still up for grabs.
WHO WILL BE IN…
The Capitals, Leafs, Islanders, Penguins and Hurricanes all look good to be there in the East, leaving the last wild card spot a dog fight between the Montreal Canadiens who currently have a 2 point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets who have a game in hand.
Most popular online betting sites are NOT currently offering any Y/N odds for making NHL playoffs meaning that either you’ll need to look off shore or just bet your particular horse on a game by game basis. Various sites such as hockey reference, offer up percentages on which team will make the playoffs based on various algorithms. You can do some interesting deep dives to see if you can discover an edge.
In the West, Nashville, St. Louis and Las Vegas are all as good as clinched but the wild card race is much more intriguing. Only 3 points seperate Dallas, Colorado, Arizona and Minnesota. With a 3 point cushion and one game in hand on the other 3 teams the Dallas Stars look to be a good bet to get one of the wild card spots, but the race for the last one between the Avalanche, Coyotes and Wild will come down to the last day of the season.
And in what might be a playoff game before the playoffs start, the Wild play in Dallas on the last night of the season.
Stanley Cup Odds
NHL FUTURES PROVIDED BY WILLIAM HILL
Having done my due dilligence William Hill is offering the best lines for Stanley Cup futures.
And the obvious question to ask is is this Tampa Bay’s to lose? At +220 the Lightning are by a considerable margin, the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. But how have President’s trophy winners faired in recent history?
The last team to win the President’s trophy and go on to win the Stanley Cup was the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks. In fact, in the last 33 seasons, only 8 times has the team with the most regular season point gone on to win the Stanley Cup. That’s roughly a one in four proposition yet the oddsmakers are only giving you slightly better than 2/1. If we’re just speaking in trends, Tampa Bay is not the best value on the board. Now while they could win the Stanley Cup and none would bat an eye, let’s discuss those teams that WON’T win 16 games this spring.
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Teams to Fade
At the top of this list for me is the Toronto Maple Leafs who started the season at less than 10/1 to win the Stanley Cup but now sit at +1400. They look to destined to play the Boston Bruins in the first round and in school yard terms, Boston will take the Leafs lunch money and shove them in a locker. After only Tampa, Boston has the best home ice record in the NHL and will have home ice in their first round matchup. There is lots of history here and it all favors the Bruins. Take Boston in 5 or 6 games.
Next is last year’s Western Conference Champion Las Vegas Golden Knights who look to be destined to battle Northern Californian rivals the San Jose Sharks. I don’t see anything but the Sharks advancing from this series. Hopefully the oddsmakers make this close to even money so that we can extract value.
Teams to Ride
If you don’t want to ride the obvious favorite I don’t blame you. Even the most advanced algorithms only give Tampa Bay a 20% chance of winning the Stanley which should mean a line of +500 so why rob yourself of value.
However, the Winnipeg Jets at +1100 stand out as a fantastic option both in value and performance. Having made a deep run in the playoffs last year, developed a pedigree which they can use as their foundation to build on. The West in my view, is fairly wide open. The Sharks, Jets and Flames all seem evenly matched but I don’t think Calgary’s young core is quite ready to win the conference. The Sharks may still have playoff demons that we’ve yet to see them overcome. The Jets however have all the makings of a team who are ready to jump that hurdle.
Which brings us to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. At +1000 you’re allowing yourself the peace of mind of an organization who finally reached the pantheon after finally exercising their own playoff demons last Summer. Ovi and the gang now have the muscle memory and know what it takes to win road games in tough arenas such as Boston and Tampa in May and June.
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