As the NHL playoffs begin, clear favorites are already emerging to lift this year’s Stanley Cup. It is time to establish the biggest contenders, as well as some outside shots for glory. Check out our current NHL Odds and don’t forget to check out our NHL Odds Boosts if you want to get involved in NHL betting.
Colorado Avalanche +235
Avalanche were the second team from either conference to qualify for the playoffs after clinching the Central Division with 12 games to spare. They racked up 56 wins in the regulation season and that was without the pressure on the last portion of the season. Even without this, they still have the highest wins in regulation this season
Off the back of such a dominant season, it makes sense that they have long been at the top of the odds. They will enter the playoffs at C1 and are matched up against the Wildcard team 2, the Predators, who they should slide past and move to the next round. In their first game, they cruised to a 7-2 victory, which has set the tone for the rest of the games. Thus, ensuring they start in the playoffs as dominant as they have been in the regular season and staking their claim on the Stanley Cup early on.
Calgary Flames +575
Following the Panther’s first game loss, the Flames leapfrogged them to be second on the odds market despite winning eight games fewer than them in the regulation season. Nevertheless, this was enough for them to easily cruise through at the top of the Pacific division to become the third team through to the playoffs. They were also the first Canadian team to make it through, but have since been joined by the Maple Leafs, and Alberta rivals, the Edmonton Oilers,
They remain the best-placed Canadian team to lift the Stanley Cup for what would be only the second time in their history, but they would have to overcome favourites, Avalanche, in the semi-finals to make it there. First, they need to overcome Stars and then, probably, face off in a Battle of Alberta quarter-final against the Oilers. If all goes well for Flames and Avalanche, that semi-final could turn out to be the overall decider of the Championship winner.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) May 4, 2022
Florida Panthers +750
The Panthers were the first team to qualify, having secured their spot as Atlantic Division champions in the Eastern Conference. They started strong with the longest win streak in their history and finished the season with the most goals scored out of the whole league and the best goal difference.
In the odds market, they trail outright favourites Avalanche, but don’t let that fool you. The teams are evenly matched in pretty much every other statistic, so there is not much to separate either of them. The two teams played twice in cross-conference games this season. The first game was taken by the Panthers, the second by Avalanche so it is too close to call this stage. However, a loss in their playoff game against the Capitals means it was not the best start to their playoff campaign and has affected their odds drastically.
Carolina Hurricanes +900
Winners of the Metropolitan Division this year were the Hurricanes – but just about. They edged the Rangers by just four points, but in the wider scheme of things they were destined for the playoffs for a while, having secured the required positioning weeks ago. Moreover, they had the third best goal difference in the whole division and nearly double that of the closest rivals in their division, so they have been looking like a sturdy team for months.
They do, therefore, deserve their right to be among the favorites to win the NHL Championship, even if they are a bit of an outsider at the early stages of the playoffs. Their high odds are a bit unjustified considering the season they have had so it says more about the high level of competition in this year’s postseason than anything else. They have a Round 1 match-up with the Bruins, which is a record-equaling 11th post-season match-up between the two sides. So far, they are 2-0 in the games, so they are looking good for moving on to the next stage.
Tampa Bay Lightning +1000
Tampa Bay have their eyes set on a second consecutive Stanley Cup win and their third in 10 years, but they are an outsider as things stand, which makes sense when you look at their season so far. They earned their spot in the playoffs in third position, behind both the Leafs and Panthers, and just three points ahead of the Bruins, in what was a competitive Atlantic Division.
They held their own there, but they will need to do more than that at this stage if they want to defend their title. They are facing off against the team that edged them in the regular season, Maple Leafs, so a win here will show that they mean business in this post-season and that they are real contenders. With one win apiece, it is shaping up to be an important game in defining who might lift the trophy in a few weeks.
Toronto Maple Leafs +1100
The other Canadian team among the favourites is the Maple Leafs, who had a decent season with 56 wins, totaling 115 points, the third most in the whole of the NHL. This was only enough for a second-place finish in a competitive Atlantic Division, trailing behind the Panthers. Nevertheless, strong performances across the season mean they are looking like a contender to potentially secure their first Stanley Cup for nearly 50 years.
They do remain an outside bet at this early stage of the playoffs. This is amplified by having a tough match-up in their first match against Lightning, who only just trailed them in the Atlantic division. The Maple Leafs won the first game but lost the second, so it is still all to play for between the two teams and fans’ hopes for that long-awaited Stanley Cup win might be short-lived.
Bring that same energy! 🔋 pic.twitter.com/mrBkY6O9FX
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 4, 2022
Pittsburgh Penguins +1300
Considering Pittsburgh came in third in the Metropolitan Division this year, they have favourable odds to compete for the Stanley Cup. Although they did qualify for the playoffs by a clear 19 points, so it is not as if they do not deserve to be here. The issue is whether they have the same quality as some of the bigger favourites based on what we have seen so far.
They will be playing Rangers in this first stage, which before this week might have got Pittsburgh fans worried. In their last three regular season matches, the Rangers cruised to three consecutive wins, having only lost by one point before that in February. Nevertheless, the Penguins came out all guns blazing in Game 1 and got themselves a 4-3 victory and more importantly, the advantage. Can they keep it up and prove me wrong?
Edmonton Oilers +1700
The final Canadian team in the playoffs and the biggest outsiders is the Edmonton Oilers, but don’t rule them out just yet. Sure, both Flames and Maples Leafs had the better regular season, but the Oilers have put up a valiant effort to secure their place in this post-season position and they won’t give up their position without a fight and will be dreaming of that first Stanley Cup in over 20 years.
They need to defeat the Knights first if this dream is to stay alive, though. They haven’t made it easy for themselves by losing the first game 4-3. However, they did bounce back in Game 2, cruising to a 6-0 win. If they can keep up this momentum, it is easy to see them progressing and setting up that Battle of Alberta quarter-final in the next stage!