The quest for the Stanley Cup begins with the playoffs. For a team to realize their dream of winning the championship, they first need to ensure that they are good enough to qualify for the playoffs.
Only 16 teams take part in the postseason tournament, so half of the teams in the league get sent home early.
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.
In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know regarding the 2022 playoffs, so read on if you’re interested in this betting market.
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 best teams in each division earn a playoff spot. Since there are four divisions in the NHL—Pacific, Central, Metropolitan, and Atlantic—that makes up 12 direct qualifiers.
The remaining four berths are awarded to the top two teams in each conference that failed to earn a top-three spot in their respective divisions.
So two teams from the Western Conference (Central and Pacific) and two teams from the Eastern Conference (Atlantic and Metropolitan) fill up the remaining slots. In total, each conference produces eight playoff teams.
Each division’s top team plays a wild card from their conference—i.e., a team that qualified via the conference route instead of finishing in the top three.
The division winner that accumulated the most points plays against the wild card with the fewest points.
On the other hand, the teams that finish in second and third in each division play each other in the first round.
For the first time since the 2018-19 season, the regular season will consist of 82 games. So qualifying for the playoffs will be even harder this season than in the past two seasons.
Teams played 56 games during the 2020-21 season, while they averaged around 70 games in the 2019-20 season before the Covid-19 outbreak forced the suspension of the regular season.
Of course, an 82-game season is better because the top teams get rewarded for their consistency, and fluke teams can’t rely on fewer games to get into the playoffs and thus have to strive to be consistent as well.
Plus, more games is better for both fans and bettors.
When betting on a team to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are two types of bets that you can make. You can bet on a team to make the playoffs, and you can also bet on a team to 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.
Of course, the NHL betting odds of a favorite team missing the playoffs will be extremely high. Similarly, an underdog will have extremely high odds when it comes to making the playoffs.
So you can bet on one team to make the playoffs and another to miss the playoffs, preferably a moderate contender and a moderate underdog, which could end up being a good betting strategy.
To place a playoff futures bet, you just need to go to your sportsbook and navigate to the “team futures” section under the NHL.
Once there, you’ll see the playoff betting market, and you can choose the team/teams that you want to bet on.
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, you should always look at a team’s recent playoff history. Trends aren’t supposed to be ignored. In fact, trends are extremely useful in giving you a good indicator of what could possibly happen.
If a team has failed to make the playoffs in the past 15 seasons and is stuck in a rut, surely that’s a good indicator that the team might also struggle this season.
Similarly, if a team has consistently made the playoffs, then that’s a good indicator that the team might make the playoffs this season as well.
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, so betting on an underdog such as the Buffalo Sabres who are in that division may not be the wisest of bets.
On the other hand, the Pacific Division is arguably the weakest division this season, so backing a long shot in such a division could prove to be a value bet.