With the NHL’s regular season in the books, 16 teams booked their tickets to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While it’s difficult to directly compare this year’s playoffs to last year’s COVID-affected tournament, it’s fair to say there appears to be more parity this time around. As an example, the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Florida Panthers, had 18 losses while in 8th place Washington Capitals had 26 defeats. Not a huge difference.
With this level of parity, it leaves the door open to a team winning the Stanley Cup trophy at attractive odds. That means U.S. hockey bettors might find it worthwhile investing a little time looking for the “diamond in the rough.”
Before offering a little Stanley Cup prognosis, here is a snapshot of the futures odds on winning the Stanley Cup Trophy:
Colorado Avalanche +330
Florida Panthers +550
Calgary Flames +750
Toronto Maple Leafs +1000
Carolina Hurricanes +1100
Tampa Bay Lightning +1100
Minnesota Wild +1600
Boston Bruins +1600
New York Rangers +1600
Edmonton Oilers +1800
St. Louis Blues +2000
Pittsburgh Penguins +2000
Washington Capitals +4000
Dallas Stars +5000
Nashville Predators +5000
Los Angeles Kings +5000
Odds vary by sportsbook and are updated daily. See your local online sportsbook for the latest lines.
2022 Stanley Cup Playoff Lines
Historically, NHL champions have shown a propensity to follow up and win back-to-back titles. That’s always a good place for handicappers to begin their calculations. And there is usually continuity from one year to the next in the makeup of the successful playoff franchises. However, that approach might not be as revealing as usual.
Of the four teams that made it to the Stanley Cup semifinals last year, three didn’t even qualify for the playoffs this time. They are the Montreal Canadiens (Western Conference Champs in 2021), the New York Islanders, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights (the #2 seed in last year’s Western Conference). That’s a further indication of the evenness we have seen across the league this year.
The one team that did make it to this year’s playoffs after playing in last year’s semis is the Tampa Bay Lightning (defending Stanley Cup champ). Currently, they are listed at +1100 to win the Cup again. Rewind 12 months and Tampa Bay was in a similar position. They entered the playoffs with the 7th best record and went on to defend their crown. Could they do it once again at attractive odds?
As the playoffs get underway, the Colorado Avalanche are favorites in the betting. Unfortunately, they were also favored to win last year’s Stanley Cup after entering the playoffs with a league-best record of 39-13-4. Instead, they bowed out in the second round to the Vegas Golden Knights (4-2). Could a similar fate befall them again? Time will tell.
Finding Betting Value
Simply put, the lack of a dominant force in this year’s league presents difficulties for the handicapper. Given what happened last year, taking +330 on the favorite is not too attractive. A better approach would be to go a bit further down the list to find the value.
The first place to look might be to identify teams that ended the regular season on a strong run. In fact, there is one team that ended the season by winning its last six games. That is the Carolina Hurricanes. They also benefit by having the best defense in the NHL at 2.52 goals allowed per game. And on the face of it, at +1100, the Hurricanes would seem to offer more betting value than the Lightning who are listed at around the same odds.
While the Hurricanes represent value based on their defensive prowess, the Florida Panthers warrant consideration for no other reason than the fact they had the league’s best record at 58-18-6. They achieved this mainly through a potent offense. The Panthers scored 340 goals to lead the league by far.
The feeling is the Eastern Conference is stronger this year. Here’s one betting strategy for sports bettors who might want to focus on this best offense/defense angle. A main wager on the Hurricanes and a saver bet on the Panthers for about half the size of the main bet. It might at least mean you get to the Stanley Cup finals with at least one team still in the running for the money.
Betting States Interest
Finally, what impact will this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs have on the individual states’ online sportsbooks? The big addition to the US legal sports betting landscape in 2022 is New York. The Islanders may have disappointed but the New York Rangers can still give a boost to New York sports betting during the climax of the NHL season.
Similarly, the Pittsburgh Penguins can provide a jolt to Pennsylvania sports betting. Then in the West you have a more obvious impact team. The overall favorites Colorado Avalanche will make sure Colorado sports betting maintains an interest in the postseason. To a lesser extent the Nashville Predators might give Tennessee sports betting an assist, depending on how long they can last.