2021 NHL Playoff Odds: Stanley Cup Betting Preview & First Round Predictions
Sixteen teams qualified for the 2021-2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in what can only be described as a somewhat strange season, leading to some strange NHL Playoff Odds. With teams from the four divisions each playing 56 games but only playing against teams within their division, there’s a familiarity this season that is unlike any other. In addition, teams often played the same team three or even four times in a row replicating what they’ll do now as the NHL playoff odds open and the chase for the Stanley Cup begins. BetRivers.com is proud to provide a wide variety of NHL Playoff odds, props, teasers, and futures for your favorite NHL playoff teams. Longtime Poker broadcaster and sports bettor David Tuchman is here to preview the NHL Playoff Odds and make his picks and predictions for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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RELATED: HOCKEY BETTING, EXPLAINED
The only difference is the intensity – NHL playoff hockey is like nothing else. For those of you who have enjoyed it before, you know what I speak of. For those of you new to it, get ready to sit at the edge of your seat and be brought to your feet time and time again. I know many people who are at best, casual hockey fans from October to April, that become rabid about the NHL in May.
If you want to make the experience even more intense, try putting a wager or two on the games. I tend to focus on betting on each playoff series and futures, but if I see an opportunity, I’ll toss a few dollars on an individual game as well.
Each team has had a different journey to this moment. Whether a team was hot as the sun heading into the post season or if a team barely limped in, it’s a new season now. Everyone is on equal footing and what happened during the regular season means nothing now. Right? … not so fast. How a team plays at the end of the regular season appears to matter – will it this year? Who knows, but there are many examples of teams getting hot at the right moment and riding that momentum a long way.
Two years ago, The Tampa Bay Lightning were the best team during the regular season by a landslide. They had first place essentially locked up in January and coasted into the playoffs. The Columbus Blue Jackets had to fight tooth and nail just to get in. Columbus was playing “playoff intensity” hockey each and every night at the end of the regular season. When these teams faced off in the first round, it appeared to be a mismatch, but four games later, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning who were hanging up their skates for the season.
In 2011-12 season, The Los Angeles Kings got into the playoffs as the 8th seed, because of a poor start to their season, but everyone who watched them play could tell they were much better than that come May. Not only did they win the cup that year, they dominated the playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues were in last place in January of 2019. They put an unknown goalie (Jordan Binnington) in net and the rest is history. No team was better for the last 30 games of the season. As the 5th seed, The Blues defeated Boston to win the Cup.
How a team plays at the end of the season matters more often than not and many experts contend that the teams that have to fight their way into the playoffs are more ready for that level of intensity once they drop the puck.
Goaltending is so important come playoff time – I can not emphasize that anymore.
Hockey is funny because there are times that a goalie will stand on his head and win the game for his team. It happens almost every year in the playoffs. Last year Thatcher Demko put the Vancouver Canucks on his back and forced a much (MUCH) better Golden Knights team to seven games. All the NHL goalies are good – let’s not suggest they aren’t, but some can hot and when they do, good luck trying to get a puck past them. This is what I call the X factor. It’s a reason to bet on a dog and the reason a huge favorite will lose.
Here is a look at how the quarterfinal matchups will be determined:
#1 Pittsburgh/#4 New York vs. #2 Washington/#3 Boston
#1 Colorado/#4 St. Louis vs. #2 Vegas/#3 Minnesota
#1 Toronto/#4 Montreal vs. #2 Edmonton/#3 Winnipeg
#1 Carolina/#4 Nashville vs. #2 Florida/#3 Tampa Bay
With that, let’s take a look at the NHL Playoff odds for the first round.
Click here for all the 2021-2022 NHL Playoff odds and futures
NHL PLAYOFF ODDS: FIRST ROUND SERIES PREVIEW
No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1) vs. No. 4 New York Islanders (1-1)
Game 3: Thursday, May 20. 7 p.m. ET. Nassau Coliseum. Long Island, NY
Moneyline: Penguins -110 ML, Islanders -106 ML
Puck Line: Penguins -1 (+163), Islanders +1 (-200)
Over/Under: 5 (-137/+117)
Click here for Penguins-Islanders Game 3 odds.
Game 1: Islanders 4, Penguins 3 (OT)
Game 2: Penguins 2, Islanders 1
Pittsburgh finished the season off scorching – 18-6 over their last 24 to win what most people say is the deepest/toughest division in hockey. But, keep in mind, their shooting % was unsustainably high during this stretch.
Two years ago, the Penguins were swept by this Islander team, but make no mistake – these teams are different today. The Penguins have more depth at forward than they did back then and are looking to take advantage of the Isle’s weaker defensive pairings. The Islanders acquired Kyle Palmieri at the trade deadline, but he’s been slow to assimilate. They haven’t been the same team since they lost their captain, Anders Lee to injury.
That said, this is a confident Islander’s locker room. When everyone says they can’t win, that’s when they’re at their best.
In goal, New York has a sizable advantage. Semyon Varlamov is a Vezina candidate, while Tristan Jarry is incredibly inconsistent. If Pittsburgh is to make a run this postseason, it’ll be because Jarry got hot.
This is definitely a series that could go either way, but my money is on the better coach and better goaltender. And those men live in Long Island.
No. 2 Washington Capitals (1-1) vs. No. 3 Boston Bruins (1-1)
Game 3: Wednesday, May 19. 6:30 p.m. ET. TD Garden. Boston, MA
Moneyline: Bruins -167 ML, Capitals +143 ML
Puck Line: Bruins -1 (-106), Capitals +1 (-113)
Over/Under: 5.5 (+107/-125)
Click here for Bruins-Capitals Game 3 odds.
Game 1: Capitals 3, Bruins 2 (OT)
Game 2: Bruins 4, Capitals 3 (OT)
Twelve months ago, the Bruins won the President’s Trophy as the best team during the regular season. The Covid-19 induced stoppage might’ve cost this team the Cup.
Boston has sputtered along inconsistently for most of the regular season but went on a roll at the end to capture the 3rd seed. This is an excellent hockey team that got better at the trade deadline. They are without a doubt, contenders to win it all. A few weeks ago, we bet on them at +1800 to win the Cup (they’re currently +1000)
As for Washington, they are a good team – no doubt, but they aren’t playing their best hockey as of late. They have question marks in goal and I don’t particularly like the direction they’ve gone in terms of roster construction. Washington has made a concerted effort to get bigger/heavier for the playoffs. That’s normally a good thing, but sometimes when you get bigger, you get slower and I think that’ll come back to haunt the Capitals.
The Washington Capitals aren’t bad, but they are a shell of the team that won the Cup three years ago. This team is older, slower and in my opinion, no match for the Boston Bruins.
No. 1 Colorado Avalanche (39-13-4, 82pts) vs. No. 4 St. Louis Blues (27-20-9, 63pts)
Game 2: Wednesday, May 19. 10:30 p.m. ET. Ball Arena. Denver, CO
Moneyline: Avalanche -315 ML, Blues +260 ML
Puck Line: Avalanche -1.5 (+100), Blues -1.5 (-120)
Over/Under: 5.5 (-109/-109)
Click here for Avalanche-Blues Game 2 odds.
Game 1: Avalanche 4, Blues 1
The Blues went on that legendary run a couple years ago that culminated with them hoisting the cup over their shoulders. Besides that, they’ve been a heavy, somewhat slow, slightly above-average team.
Their first-round opponent, Colorado is electric. They do everything at 96 miles an hour. The Avalanche are the favorite to win the Cup and their captain, Nathan Mackinnon is the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) – He’s the 2nd best player in the world in my opinion.
Can the Blues win this series? Of course. It’s hockey and strange things happen all the time. St. Louis did beat the Avalanche three times in the regular season, so I could be overstating how big a favorite Colorado is. If the Avalanche do have an Achilles heel, it’s in net. Philipp Grubauer started the season off on fire, but he’s been decidedly mediocre over his last ten starts.
Blues goalie, Jordan Binnington is up and down and up and down… But when he’s on, he can carry a team on his back. For what it’s worth, Binnington has been one of the best since April 1st (.921 save %)
No. 2 Vegas Golden Knights (40-14-2, 82pts) vs. No. 3 Minnesota Wild (35-16-5, 75pts)
Game 3: Thursday, May 20. 9:30 p.m. ET. Xcel Energy Center. Minneapolis, MN
Moneyline: Golden Knights -127 ML, Wild +110 ML
Puck Line: Golden Knights -1 (+138) Wild +1 (-165)
Over/Under: 5.5 (+120/-143)
Click here for Golden Knights-Wild Game 3 odds.
Game 1: Wild 1, Golden Knights 0 (OT)
Game 2: Golden Knights 3, Wild 1
You have arguably the best two teams in the league in the same division. The Golden Knights barely missed out on first place and as a reward, they get the dangerous Wild in the first round.
Minnesota is a good team with depth. If they can handle Vegas’ first line (much much easier said than done) – this could be a nightmare scenario for Vegas.
On defense, I give Vegas a slight edge, but both teams are solid.
In between the pipes is where the Golden Knights should dominate. Vegas couldn’t give Marc-Andre Fleury away in the off-season and now he’s the reason they could win a Cup this year. He’s been that good. In case, he falters or needs a day off, they have Robin Lehner who is also very good.
In Minnesota, Cam Talbot is guarding the crease. He was brought in from Edmonton in the off-season and early on, it looked like a steal. Talbot was playing great, but the problem with Talbot has always been consistency and that reared its ugly head. He was quite simply, bad over the last six weeks of the season.
For Minnesota to have a chance in this series, Talbot must match Fleury and I don’t see that happening.
No. 1 Toronto Maple Leafs (35-14-7, 77pts) vs. No. 4 Montreal Canadians (24-21-11, 59pts)
Game 1: Thursday, May 20, 7:30 p.m. ET
Moneyline: Maple Leafs -190 ML, Canadiens +160 ML
Puck Line: Maple Leas -1 (-121), Canadiens +1 (+102)
Over/Under: 5.5 (-118/+100)
Click here for Maple Leafs-Canadiens Game 1 odds.
The Leafs have been the class of the North. They’ve absolutely dominated what is considered a relatively weak division. They still have issues on the backend and question marks in goal, but they are the odds-on favorite to emerge from the North victorious.
Their first-round matchup is against Montreal who has been streaky – early on they were very good, but they lost their best player in Brendan Gallagher to injury and they’ve been a disaster ever since. Gallagher is slated to return from injury for Game 1, but he hasn’t played in quite some time, so it is hard to predict how effective be will be. But he very well could provide Montreal with a shot in the arm, something they desperately need. When healthy, Gallagher is a major difference-maker.
I’m not sold on Toronto, but Montreal is the worst team to qualify for the playoffs. This shouldn’t be close. The Leafs should still win this series, but this is worth watching.
No. 2 Edmonton Oilers (35-18-2, 72pts) vs. No.3 Winnipeg Jets (30-23-3, 63pts)
Game 1: Wednesday, May 19, 9 p.m. ET
Moneyline: Oilers -159 ML, Jets +138 ML
Puck Line: Oilers -1 (+102), Jets +1 (-121)
Over/Under: 6 (-103/-115)
Click here for Oilers-Jets Game 1 odds.
Edmonton has the best player in the world and if you haven’t seen him play, do yourself a favor and google, “Connor McDavid highlights” – thank me later. He’s playing on another level right now. For the first time in his career, the wins are coinciding with his performance. The Oilers are 12-4 in their last 16 and defeated Winnipeg three times over that stretch – out scoring them 12-2 over those three games.
Winnipeg doesn’t score enough or play good enough defense to stay in this series. The only reason this series could be closer than it should be is because of who’s in net. Edmonton’s issues in net have plagued them for the past few seasons and this year, it’s no different. Mike Smith is 62 years-old. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. If he gets hot, this Oilers team is very dangerous, but that’s a big “IF”
Nonetheless, Edmonton should take care of Winnipeg fairly easily.
No. 1 Carolina Hurricanes (36-12-8, 80pts) vs. No. 4 Nashville Predators (31-23-2, 64pts)
Game 2: Wednesday, May 19. 8 p.m. ET. PNC Arena. Raleigh, NC.
Moneyline: Hurricanes -190 ML, Predators +163 ML
Puck Line: Hurricanes -1 (-122), Predators +1 (+102)
Over/Under: 5.5 (+112/-134)
Click here for Hurricanes-Predators Game 2 odds.
Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Predators 2
Carolina won five straight to clinch 1st place in the division before losing their last three to end the season – two of them to Nashville. The Predators were in a dog fight with Dallas just to make the playoffs and finished the season winning 18 of their last 25 games to claim the final playoff spot in the central division.
The Hurricanes have been the analytics darlings for a couple of years now, and while they’ve had some playoff success, they’ve underperformed a bit. Goaltending has always been their issue and stubbornly they’ve refused to address it. Carolina will go as far as Petr Mrazek takes them. He’s underwhelmed in the past, but he was fantastic this season albeit in only 12 games (.923 save %)
Nashville has Jusse Saros between the pipes and he’s been a revelation in the 2nd half of the season (.927 save %) The Predators will need Saros to be a wall if they are to beat Carolina. They just don’t have the firepower up front to keep up with Carolina.
As I mentioned earlier, the Predators did beat the Hurricanes twice to end the season, but both games were meaningless for Carolina. Before that, Nashville had lost six straight to their first-round foe.
Carolina should win this series – they are simply the better team (and it’s not close) but this is definitely one to watch. It’s got the ingredients for a huge upset. A team that’s streaking (18-7 in their last 25), a red hot goalie in Saros against a young team that’s never done it before in the playoffs…
No. 2 Florida Panthers (0-2) vs. No. 3 Tampa Bay Lightning (2-0)
Game 3: Thursday, May 20. 6:30 p.m. ET. Amalie Arena. Tampa, FL
Moneyline: Lightning -148 ML, Panthers +128 ML
Puck Line: Lightning -1 (+105), Panthers +1 (-125)
Over/Under: 5,5 (-115/-103)
Click here for Panthers-Lightning Game 3 odds.
Game 1: Lightning 5, Panthers 4
Game 2: Lightning 3, Panthers 1
The Battle of Florida – it’s never happened before in the playoffs and this could be one of the most entertaining first-round match-ups.
The defending Champion Lightning captured the 3rd seed in the central, but I wouldn’t put much stock into their regular-season performance. All-world player, Nikita Kucherov returns from injury and how quickly he gets back into the flow will be a huge factor in Tampa Bay’s run to repeat.
Florida lost their best defenseman, Aaron Ekblad, to injury but is still a formidable opponent. In fact, they’ve been the better team during the regular season.
Florida has their 10 million dollar man, Sergei Bobrovsky who, despite his price tag, has underperformed. Tampa has the Vezina trophy favorite, Andrei Vasilevskiy in net. And this is why I’m picking the Lightning to advance.