For hockey fans, it is about to be the greatest time of the year, where unpredictability and tense moments reign. That’s right: it is time for the Stanley Cup playoffs, the 2-month tournament to crown the NHL champions. Even though the Detroit Red Wings are eliminated, the fact that online sports betting is now legal in Michigan means there should still be great interest in all the exciting action. However, if you are not familiar with Stanley Cup betting strategy, you have come to the right place!
Current odds for NHL Stanley Cup betting
Here are some of the latest odds surrounding the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs:
About the odds
If you aren’t sure exactly what these odds mean, we will break it down throughout the site. Here are a few of the key terms and a few important considerations:
The most common form of Stanley Cup betting is called moneyline betting. Here, you are simply choosing who will win straight up (or SU, as it is sometimes denoted). For moneyline betting, if there is a positive number next to the team, that is the amount of money you would win if you bet $100 on that team. (This team is considered the underdog, the one less likely to win.) If the number is negative, that is how much you need to bet to win $100.
Let’s give a quick example, using two teams very likely to meet in this year’s playoffs: the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights. The odds for a game in Denver could be
Colorado (-170)—Notice that the home team is always on the bottom.
So if you were to bet $100 on the Golden Knights, and they won, you would get back $240, a $140 profit. If you bet $200 you would get back $480, a $280 profit, etc. If you picked the Avs, you would bet $170. If they won, you would receive back $270, a profit of $100.
Know that you can bet other amounts, not just multiples of $100. Other amounts will simply be prorated accordingly. So a bet of $30 would earn 30% of the payout.
Sometimes you may see odds that are (+100) and (-100) or that simply say the word EVEN. In this case, there is no favorite or underdog. This type of game is called a Pick ‘Em because the teams are considered evenly matched, and the odds are the same for both.
Because hockey can be an unpredictable sport, with individual games sometimes determined by an unfortunate bounce of a puck, many bettors prefer futures betting (also known as outright betting). In futures betting, you are not choosing the outcome of a single game. Instead, you are choosing the outcome of a longer time period, often choosing the winner of a series or choosing the eventual champion who will lift Lord Stanley’s cup. The betting/payout structure is the same as moneyline betting.
When looking at odds, one important consideration is that odds for games are constantly changing. If a large percentage of the public bets for one team, the bookmakers will change the odds to help make betting more even. Also, breaking news (such as a suspension for a nasty hit) can change the odds. The odds to bet on a Stanley Cup winner are changing almost daily, as the team’s performance is changing and players are added or lost.
Also, know that different sportsbooks may offer different odds. So it is helpful to look at different ones to determine where you want to place your bet.
Is betting on the Stanley Cup playoffs legal in Michigan
As of December 20, 2019, sports betting is legal in Michigan. In order to participate, you simply need to be physically located within the state’s boundaries while accessing the betting sites.
There are several sites where you can participate in online gambling in Michigan, and almost all of them have sportsbooks. For a site to offer sports gambling (or any gambling at all, for that matter,) they simply have to be in a partnership with a land-based casino in the state. Therefore, some of the biggest sportsbooks in the country are available in Michigan, such as the Golden Nugget, FanDuel, DraftKings, MGM, and more. Be aware that some of these sites have specific apps or web addresses for Michigan gambling.
Most common betting markets
Though the moneyline system explained above is the most common Stanley Cup betting structure, it certainly isn’t the only one. Here are a few more you will often see:
- Puck lines: If you bet the puck line, you are betting for the favorite to win by more than a certain number of goals or for the underdog to keep it close. Because hockey games are generally very close and low-scoring, the puck line is always -1.5 and +1.5. Let’s use another potential playoff matchup as an example. Pretend that the Maple Leafs are playing the Hurricanes. You might see a puck line that says this:
Toronto Maple Leafs (+1.5)
Carolina Hurricanes (-1.5)
So if you bet on the underdog Maple Leafs, you win the bet if they win. However, you also win if they lose by only one goal. If you bet on the Hurricanes, they need to win by at least 2 goals for you to win the bet.
- Over/Under: An over/under bet is one where you are betting on how many total goals will be scored in a game. The sportsbook will present a number, and the bettor decides to be that the total will be over or under that number.
If the Penguins were playing the Capitals, the over/under might bet set at 5.5 (note that these are often listed as .5 to avoid a push—where the bettor neither wins nor loses.) If the final score is 5-0, someone who bets the under wins, no matter which team had the 5 goals. In a 3-2 game, an under bettor also wins. However, if the final score is 4-3, the over wins.
- Parlays: A parlay bet is one where you are betting on two or more outcomes instead of just one. So perhaps you bet on the Bruins, Oilers, and Wild to all win on a given day. If any of those teams lose, you have lost your entire bet. So the odds of winning a parlay bet are lower (and get worse the more teams you add), but the payouts are significantly better, so you have a huge payday with a pretty small bet.
- Props: With prop bets, you are generally making a prediction based on an individual player performing a certain way. Unfortunately these are more rare for NHL/Stanley Cup betting than they are for the other major American professional sports. However, with some sportsbooks you might see a prop bet where you can bet on whether or not a player will score a goal. You also do over/under bets on stats, such as betting whether or not a play will have more or fewer than 1.5 assists.
Some sportsbooks can get really creative with prop bets, especially for big games like Stanley Cup Finals games. They might ask bettors to guess the over/under on how goals are scored in the first period or how many times an announcer says a certain word throughout the game.
Stanley Cup Live Betting
Because hockey games can be really unpredictable, many bettors enjoy live betting. In this form of Stanley Cup betting, you wager on certain outcomes while the game is being played. The odds are constantly being updated, so this type of betting can lead to some big paydays if you correctly predict that momentum will change. Also, live betting is a fun way to stay engaged in the game even if your pre-match wager seems like a bust.
Stanley Cup Betting Strategy & Tips
- Do Your Homework: This one is fairly obvious, but still, it needs to be said. The key to success in Stanley Cup betting is to understand the game deeply so you can make accurate predictions. Watch games and read information to help you.
- Don’t Just Bet on the President’s Trophy Winners: In the NHL, the team that finishes the regular season with the best record win the President’s Trophy. However, since the 1985-1986 season, the President’s Trophy winners have gone on to claim the Stanley Cup only 8 times. They have actually lost in the first round of the playoffs almost as often (6 times). In fact, many hockey fans say there is a President’s Trophy curse.
- Home–Ice Advantage is…Complicated: Common sense would say that a team at home should be more likely to win than the road team. And home teams do have certain advantages: less travel, supportive fans, an ability to send out players second so they can match up better with the other team, and more. While home teams do win more often in hockey (about 55% of the time), this is often because they are the better team, not just because they are at home. When adjusted for the quality of opponents, many statisticians would say that the home team has no real advantage. So the best Stanley cup betting strategy is just betting on the team you think is better, no matter if they are at home or not.
- Goalies are Key: Moreso than any other position in sports (except maybe a starting pitcher in baseball), goalies are key to whether or not a team wins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Often the team that ends up winning the tournament does so because they end up with a hot goaltender. Similarly, if you are looking for a dark horse team to do better than expected, look for a goaltender who gets a lot of momentum going, such as Jean-Sébastien Giguère in 2003.
Top 10 Goals from the Stanley Cup Final
Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021
The Stanley Cup playoffs were set to begin on May 11th, but since COVID postponed some games, that date has been pushed back. The regular season is now slated to end on May 19th, but some divisions could actually begin the postseason before that. This will prevent too much sitting and waiting for teams, as extended rest can make teams rusty.
If you aren’t sure why divisions is a key word, it is because that marks the biggest change to this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs compared to years past. Because of travel restrictions for Canadian teams due to COVID, the NHL is structured in 4 divisions this year, with one division made up of all Canadian teams.
For the first two rounds of the playoffs, teams will play other teams from their division (First round: 1st place plays 4th place, 2nd place plays 3rd place; Second round: remaining teams play each other). This could lead to some big mismatches in the first round, as there might be teams that make it into the playoffs this year that wouldn’t have done so in the old format.
Once the Stanley Cup playoffs are down to the last 4 teams (one winner from each division), the teams will be re-seeded based on their regular season records. So there will not be a traditional Eastern Conference and Western Conference champion meeting in the Stanley Cup finals, which should make for a fun matchup.
As to when that Finals series will be, it is hard to tell. It will depend on how long the earlier series take. Traditionally, the Finals have been in mid-June, but the league has announced that the season could end as late as July 9th this year. (And even that could be pushed later if there were a COVID outbreak or any other significant delay.)
The Detroit Red Wings at the Stanley Cup
With legal betting in Michigan, many in the state would love to be able to bet on the state team in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unfortunately, however, the Red Wings for this year’s tournament. Still, they remain a franchise with a rich history. They were one of the Original Six teams in the league, formed back in 1926, being known as the Cougars and then the Falcons before settling on the Red Wings in 1932.
From their founding through 1966, Detroit was dominant, missing the playoffs only 4 times and at one point being the best team in the regular season 7 times in a row, a record. The next 15 seasons were not nearly as successful. However, starting in 1983, the Red Wings were once again a force, making the playoffs 30 out of 32 seasons, including a record 25 times in a row.
All told, Detroit has won the Stanley cup 11 times, 3rd-most in history, including being the league’s first repeat champs back in 1937.
As you can imagine, the Red Wings’ success has been a result of having some of the greatest players to ever lace up skates. In the ‘30s and ‘40s, this included Hall of Famers Syd Howe, Ebbie Goodfellow, Sid Abel, and more. In the 1950s, the incomparable Gordie Howe led the way and the most recent runs featured Steve Yzerman, Luc Robitaille, Dominik Hasek, Chris Osgood, and Niklas Lindstrom.
All time Stanley Cup Champions
Of course, the Red Wings aren’t the only franchise that has had some great championship runs.
The Montreal Canadiens have lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup more than any other NHL franchise–24 times—including 5 wins in a row from 1956-1960. Of course, this makes sense, as they are the NHL’s oldest franchise, founded in 1909. They are also the most recent Canadian team to win the title, in 1993.
Another Canadian team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, has won the 2nd-most championships, 13. The last one came back in 1967, so their loyal fan base remains hungry for more.
Though the Edmonton Oilers only have 5 titles, they all came during one of the most dominant runs in NHL history, in the 1980s. At this point, Wayne Gretzky was in his prime and earning his nickname of The Great One. Gretzky, combined with Mark Messier, were a force difficult to stop.
The Pittsburgh Penguins also have 5 titles, but they remain one of the most iconic teams in the league. This is thanks in part to having some of the game’s all-time greats, such as Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.
In last year’s pandemic-shortened playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning took home their 2nd championship. They are a strong contender to continue their winning ways, but there will be many challengers set to take the crown.
The biggest Stanley Cup Surprises
One of the great things about sports is that you never know for sure when a team will make a surprising run through the playoffs to emerge as champion. Here are some of the Stanley Cup playoff’s most unlikely champions:
- 1986 Montreal Canadiens: This was a team filled with rookies, and that inexperience was expected to haunt them during the pressure of the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, one of those rookies turned out to be and all-time great, goalie Patrick Roy. Together with forward Claude Lemieux, they returned the Habs to their glory.
- 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins: Now the Penguins are known as a hockey powerhouse. However, they entered the 1991 postseason having won only three playoff series since their founding in 1967. They had only made the playoffs once since 1982. Even making the playoffs in 1991 was not a huge boost of confidence because they finished 7th in the standings.
However, behind Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, the Penguins went on to win their first Stanley Cup, and they have won four more since.
- 2012 Los Angeles Kings: This one may seem like an odd entry. Afterall, the Kings went 16-4 in the postseason, tied for the second-best playoff run ever. However, at the end of the regular season, no one was predicting this team to win it all. They barely squeaked into the playoffs as the 8th and lowest seed.
What happened? In short, Jonathan Quick became a goalie possessed, posting some of the best numbers ever for a single postseason. However, the offense too, scored way more than in the regular season. There were no major superstars that carried the team by going on a scoring spree, but a balanced attack led the way, especially in 3rd periods and overtimes. The Kings went 15-1 when they were tied or leading at the second intermission.
The biggest upsets in the NHL Playoffs
As with other sports (and in some ways, even more than other sports), the NHL has seen some massive series upsets in its storied history. Here are some of the most memorable in Stanley Cup playoff history.
- 2003, Minnesota Wild over Colorado Avalanche: The Wild were a plucky, upstart team that was expected to be no match for the firepower of the Colorado Avalanche (not to mention their Hall of Fame goalie, Patrick Roy). In fact, this was their first playoff appearance in franchise history. They certainly looked to be overmatched at the beginning of the series, finding themselves down 3-1.
However, the Wild pulled off three straight victories by the score of 3-2. Two of the games were in Denver, and two were won in overtime. None of the game-winners were scored by household names, but they counted all the same, and they propelled the Wild to the next round.
- 2010, Philadelphia Flyers over Boston Bruins: In the history of the NHL, only three teams have ever overcome a 3-0 series deficit. The Flyers in 2010 were one of those teams.
What makes this upset even more surprising is the fact that in the decisive game 7, the Flyers were down 3-0 just over 6 minutes into the game in Boston. But Philadelphia rallied and scored the game winner near the end of the 3rd period after Boston received a penalty for too many men on the ice.
- 1982, Los Angeles Kings over Edmonton Oilers: No one was expected to take down the Oilers in 1982, least of all the Kings. Looking at the point differential in the regular season, Edmonton looked like they were by far the better team.
As the saying goes, that’s why they play the games. And in this series, game 3 (of a best-of-5 series) was the key. The series was tied at one game apiece. Entering the 3rd period, the score was 5-0 Edmonton, and the inevitable blowout seemed to be on.
However, with just under 5 minutes to go, the lead had been shrunk to 5-3. Then Edmonton was assessed a 5-minute penalty. Los Angeles scored with the man advantage to make it 5-4. With time winding down, LA pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. They scored the tying goal with only five seconds left to play and went on to win in overtime.
This comeback was so unlikely that it has been named the Miracle on Manchester.
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