The new Stanley Cup Playoff format was announced this past Tuesday.
Alas, us sports fans have been provided a glimmer of hope in regards to the return of live sports this summer. This announcement will help provide a concrete plan of action if the league is able to return sometime this summer. The NHL remains optimistic that the Stanley Cup will be hoisted at one of their main hub cities still being determined, as teams are slowly beginning to return to their facilities to prepare for the upcoming postseason.
A variety of factors will impact how each team fares in this newfound 24-team playoff format, and below I will take you through some interesting odds to consider as we prep for the return of live hockey and sports betting.
Favorites to Hammer
Boston Bruins (+550): The reigning Eastern Conference champions have been every bit as impressive this year — coasting to a President’s Trophy and potential #1 seed. Considered the prohibitive favorite, I really don’t mind laying these odds in this spot. They’ve been so solid all year and have everything you look for in a championship team: A well-rounded roster, solid goaltending, the league’s leading goal scorer and “Rocket” trophy winner in David Pastrnak, and plenty of playoff experience across the board.
This team seems poised to make a deep run in this year’s tournament and avenge last year’s upset loss to St. Louis, as it still lingers on the mind of many of these players who returned to Boston this offseason.
Washington Capitals (+800): The 2018 Stanley Cup champions have mostly flown under the radar this year — which is good for a team that is highly criticized and often in the spotlight.
Much like Boston, this team is built for playoff hockey. They are strong up the middle, have a dependable goaltender, and are great away from home. Although there won’t be any home-ice advantages this summer, it is still important for teams to be reliable away from home, as the typical game-day routine of an away game is difficult for some players.
There should be solid value on the Caps this postseason and I wouldn’t be surprised if they represented the East in the Stanley Cup.
Teams with Good Value
Pittsburgh Penguins (+1500): An incredibly consistent squad, The Penguins find themselves in the playoffs for a 14th straight year. You know what you’re getting each and every night out of a Sidney Crosby led team, as they play a speed-based brand of hockey that trends favorably in the postseason. They never hurt themselves late in games and always capitalize on the big mistake.
Their special teams units have been firing as well, as they’ve always had a dangerous powerplay with all the playmakers they can throw at you. Supplement that with a dependable penalty kill (Top 8 in PK %) and you’ve got yourself a formidable/perennial Stanley Cup contender.
Edmonton Oilers (+2500): This team may have the most firepower in the NHL right now, as Leon Draisaitl — this year’s Art Ross trophy winner (most points in the NHL) — and Connor McDavid can go toe to toe with any top line in hockey. With 207 points between them, it will be difficult to write this group off come playoff time. They lack postseason experience, but in an ambiguous postseason that will likely feature no fans in attendance, it is easy to see how a young team like Edmonton can make a deep run in this year’s playoffs.
Longshot to Sprinkle
New York Rangers (+7500): A polarizing franchise, the Rangers are back in the playoffs after a brief 2-year hiatus. Benefactors of an expanded playoff format, the Blueshirts seem destined to take a few casualties along the way. Despite a massive overhaul over the past few offseasons, New York still possesses many of the traits you look for in a Stanley Cup contender.
Their top line can challenge any blue line in hockey, as Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad had the Rangers rolling in the month of March. A Hart Trophy finalist (MVP), Panarin has racked up 95 points on 32 goals in his first season with New York — career highs in both. He has provided the firepower this franchise so desperately craved during their Stanley Cup runs last decade, and has the Rangers faithful believing they can recapture some of that same championship voodoo.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that the Rangers’ first-round opponent will feature the Carolina Hurricanes — a franchise that has made the playoffs only once in the last 10 years and has yet to beat New York this season (0-4).
The trend is always your friend, and this seems like a prime opportunity to bet on a team that many believe is getting undervalued in the eyes of the bookmakers.