2023 NHL Playoffs Betting Odds
The quest for the Stanley Cup begins with the NHL playoffs. For a team to realize their dream of winning Lord Stanley’s Mug, they must advance through four very difficult playoff rounds, each round consisting of a Best-of-Seven series against one opponent.
Only 16 teams take part in the postseason tournament, meaning that half of the league is eliminated before the playoffs begin. Eight teams from both the Eastern and Western conferences make up the 16 teams who compete to win it all.
The remaining teams then battle it out in an elimination-style tournament where the last team standing walks away with the ultimate prize in the NHL: The Stanley Cup.
We walk you through everything you need to know about the Stanley Cup playoffs and get you set up to make all your strategic NHL postseason bets.
How The Stanley Cup Playoffs Work
For the 2021-22 season, the NHL will revert to its regular playoff format after using alternative formats in the past two seasons due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
A total of 16 teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The three teams who earned the most points in each division will automatically earn a playoff spot.
Since there are four divisions in the NHL—Pacific, Central, Metropolitan, and Atlantic—that makeup 12 direct qualifiers.
The remaining four berths are awarded to the top two teams in each conference that failed to earn an automatic spot.
Two teams from the Western Conference (Central and Pacific divisions) and two teams from the Eastern Conference (Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions) fill up the remaining slots. In total, each conference produces eight playoff teams.
In the first round of the playoffs, the two division winners will face-off against the two wild-card teams, while the teams that finished second and third in their divisions will play each other.
Each playoff round consists of a best-of-seven, head-to-head series, meaning two teams will play each other until one of the teams is the first to win four games. There are no ties in a playoff game, so the longest a series can go is seven games.
Of the eight first-round playoff matchups last year, five of them lasted at least six games and two of them needed the always dramatic Game 7 to determine a winner.
Playoff hockey is more often than not very competitive and it’s not uncommon for underdog teams to win multiple games in a series and even win a series outright.
Back To The 82-Game Season
For the first time since the 2018-19 season, the regular season will consist of 82 games. The 82 games regular season is used to eliminate 50% of the teams from the postseason, while the remaining 16 teams get set to make a long playoff run.
Teams played 56 games during the 2020-21 season, and they averaged 70 games in the 2019-20 season before the Covid-19 outbreak forced the suspension of play.
An 82 game season gives those rosters with more talent a longer opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. In last year’s shortened season, teams who got off to a slow start or teams that suffered a serious injury to a key player were at a big disadvantage.
There just weren’t as many games to make up for lost time or a slow start.
Most NHL teams have at least one, if not more than one superstar on their roster. However, the NHL’s regular season is long, grueling, and full of bumps and bruises along the way. Teams are not just rewarded for their high-end talent, but also for their depth.
Most players on a roster will be forced to miss a game or two as the season plays out. Long-term injuries are also very common in this ultra-physical sport.
An 82 game schedule rewards teams with talent and depth to overcome these injuries.
How To Bet On The Stanley Cup Playoffs
When it comes to NHL playoff futures bets there are many different options for bettors to choose from.
One popular type of futures bet is predicting whether a team will make or miss the playoffs.
For example, the Colorado Avalanche, the Stanley Cup favorite, has odds of -2500 to make the playoffs and odds of +1200 to miss the playoffs. So a $100 wager will possibly yield $4 in one scenario and $1,200 in another.
These types of bets are available throughout the regular season and NHL odds for each individual team will fluctuate as the schedule plays out.
Savvy hockey fans who do their homework early in the season are able to capitalize on good odds on teams who may not be getting a lot of attention and focus early in the year.
A great example could be the Florida Panthers or the Minnesota Wild. The Panthers may not even be the best team in the state of Florida and often get overlooked because of their neighbors in Tampa Bay.
The Minnesota Wild doesn’t necessarily have the one or two big-name superstars that casual fans are aware of.
However, both Florida and Minnesota have proven themselves to be quality hockey teams this year and both appear destined to make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, a team like the Edmonton Oilers who boast two of the most dynamic players in the game with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are going to be in a battle right to the end of the season just to make it as one of the 16 teams who qualify for playoff hockey.
Many casual hockey fans are more familiar with Edmonton as opposed to Minnesota or Florida, because of names like McDavid and Draisaitl.
However, it is the Wild and Panthers who appear more likely to be one of the 16 teams still standing after 82 regular-season games.
More NHL Futures Bets
Making or missing the playoffs is just one of many types of NHL futures bets that are available. Bettors are able to pick the Stanley Cup winner, Conference winners, and Division winners, as well a whole range of individual player prop bets.
The trick to these types of bets is to do your research and homework early and to try and be ahead of the curve.
At the beginning of the season, the under-appreciated Florida Panthers were a very good longshot bet to win the Stanley Cup.
However, by the time Christmas arrived and the Panthers were leading their division through the first 40 games, their odds to win it all had dropped significantly.
Whether you are predicting who will make or miss the playoffs or betting on which team will win the Pacific division, the key is to always be well informed and well researched before placing your bets.
Stanley Cup Playoffs Betting Strategy
Shrewd bettors always have a plan of action. So before betting on a certain team to make/miss the playoffs, always consider several key factors.
First, don’t be afraid to dive into a team and their recent playoff trends. The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a first-round playoff matchup since 2004, despite a lot of recent regular-season success.
This means that their current crop of stars, players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Reilly, and others haven’t won a playoff round in their careers.
This trend isn’t suggesting that the Maple Leafs will never again win a playoff round, but it does tell us as a bettor that something has to be different this year in Toronto compared to years past, or else they will once again fall short.
This is where your research and knowledge come into play. Is this year’s Toronto team better than in years past and if so, why?
For those who believe that the Maple Leafs did go out and improve in key areas and their regular-season success will pay off in the playoffs, then the Maple Leafs might make a good futures bet.
For those who did their homework and aren’t convinced that Toronto did enough over the last 10 months to increase their playoff chances, and the same issues that plagued them last playoffs will show up again this year, then they should stay far away from Toronto and instead might want to bet them to lose in their first-round match up.
Second, always consider the division that a team is in. Certain divisions are more competitive than others. For example, the Atlantic division has a lot of top Stanley Cup contenders, like Florida, Tampa Bay, and Toronto.
Betting on an underdog such as the Buffalo Sabres to win that division may not be the wisest of bets, as they have to overcome numerous hurdles to achieve that.
On the other hand, the Pacific Division is arguably the weakest division this season, so backing a long shot in that division could prove to be a good value bet.
The Anaheim Ducks had very low expectations heading into this year. In order to win the Pacific, they would have to beat teams like the LA Kings, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers.
All of those are very good teams, but they won’t finish with the same amount of points as Florida, Tampa Bay, and Toronto.
Our last piece of advice for bettors of all skill levels is to make sure you are getting the very best odds available.
Over time in sports betting, professional or sharp gamblers are looking for a 3-5% edge. If you can win at a 55% success rate, you can be a very profitable gambler.
Shopping around for the very best odds available is the easiest way to gain a 5% edge instead of playing with just one sportsbook.
If we use the Colorado Avalanche as an example, you can find odds on the Avs to win this year’s Stanley Cup ranging from +350 to +500 currently.
A $100 bettor would receive an additional $150 by playing the +500 odds as opposed to betting Colorado at +350. An additional $150 in profit on a $100 wager easily exceeds the 5% edge we are looking for.
If you aren’t shopping around for the very best odds, you just aren’t giving yourself the best chance to be competitive against the sportsbooks.