NHL Betting Storylines: 5 Biggest Questions At All-Star Break
With the NHL All-Star Game this weekend, now is a good time to look at the season and what may come. With teams like the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers unexpectedly outperforming and expected contenders like the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs underperforming, this season is wide open. That should make the second half of the season for betting NHL odds quite exciting, giving many fanbases hope there is a chance to lift the Stanley Cup in June.
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NHL Betting Storylines
Will The Canucks Negatively Regress Before The Playoffs?
The Canucks are not good.
Well, that’s overstating things, but they’re not top-of-the-league good. What they are is riding an unsustainable heater. The Canucks have six players currently scoring on 20% or more of their shots, and a seventh is at 19.7% of his shots going in the net. There are 11 players are shooting above 20% in total, and six are on one team. Yeah, that’s not sustainable.
The funnier part of this is it’s not even their best players. It’s their depth guys scoring unsustainably well. They’re getting shooting seasons that rival the best of Ovechkin or Matthews from guys making barely more than the league minimum. It’s completely farcical. They’re first in Shooting % as a team. They’re third in team Save % and 14th in expected goals at five-on-five. One of those is a lot likelier to be predictive moving forward. Spoiler: it’s not the shooting or the goaltending.
Will The Oilers Ever Lose Again?
On a 16-game winning streak, the Oilers have proven the value of not getting too worked up about results when talking about season-long prospects. The Oilers started the season terribly – but they were just the inverse Canucks. Their underlying metrics were fine. They just couldn’t buy a goal or a save. By firing the coach, getting good enough goaltending, and some regression to the mean, the Oilers aren’t losing now.
They’re not as good as they’ve looked on this 16-game winning streak, but they weren’t nearly as bad as in October. Water’s found its level, and that level is excellent. In a weaker West, the Oilers might be the best team. With four games in hand on the Canucks, I’ve bet them to win the Pacific Division. Best in the league in expected goals. The Oilers are legit despite the depressed record.
It’s also a good time to bet Kris Knobloch to win the Jack Adams. If the Oilers jump the Canucks and win the Pacific, he’ll get all the credit for saving the season. The fact that the Oilers would regress anyway will be relegated to history.
Could The Maple Leafs Miss The Playoffs?
For the team talked about more than any in the league, the Leafs are almost comically uninteresting. They’re not good enough to contend, not consistently bad enough to put the playoffs at risk, and will be another first-round out. I mean, they can’t miss the playoffs, can they?
It’s unlikely, but the Leafs have minimal assets to trade at the deadline, a Defense core that’s made up of either aging vets on the wrong side of their careers or minimum-signing journeymen, and a top-heavy forward group that can’t get any goals from beyond the core 4. Oh, and their starting goalie still has a month to go before he gets back, and their options in the interim are as consistent as Josh Allen’s passes.
This team’s in real trouble because they’re not very good. They’re 17th in expected goals at five-on-five. They are who we think they are. To miss the playoffs would be a miracle, but I’m fading this team in every way possible between now and their miserable end.
Are The Bruins and Avalanche Still Reliable?
I don’t know how they do it, but the Bruins and the Avalanche are still at the top of the league, chugging along as usual. Doesn’t matter that they’ve both lost pieces off of their President’s Trophy winning teams of 2023 and 2022, respectively, doesn’t matter that the Avs are 25th in the league in Save %, doesn’t matter that the Bruins are 16th in expected goals at 5-on-5. They’re cockroaches, always lingering.
That said, they both are outperforming their metrics. The Bruins get great goaltending, but teams with mediocre fundamentals and extremely good goaltending are sensitive to failure if their 2nd in the league Save % falls to the back half of the Top 10. On the other hand, the Avs are slightly better by the metrics – 10th 5-on-5 – but their goaltending is hot garbage.
It’s fun to see two teams that have lost loads of talent show their fight, but both are flawed. Dramatically so. These teams will either fade down the stretch or falter in the playoffs.
Will The Florida Panthers Win The Stanley Cup?
A skeptic of the Panthers last year who even compared them to the Canadiens team that somehow made the Cup in 2021, this year’s Florida team has made me a believer. They’re third at five-on-five expected goals, seventh in Save %, and they made a deep run last year. Their overwhelmingly likely first-round matchup is Toronto, which they would dispatch easily. Their Achilles’ heel that they love taking penalties? The league doesn’t call any in the playoffs!
More to the point, the other contenders have serious problems. The Rangers don’t have enough reliable offense for the playoffs, Vegas and Dallas are full of guys on the downside of their careers, and the Jets are even more goaltending-dependent than Boston. Would anyone be shocked if Edmonton’s goalies turned back into pumpkins in May? I wouldn’t.
It’s the Panthers. For the first time in years, I’ve got a clear idea of who is the best-suited team to win the Cup, and it’s Florida.
Best of luck with NHL betting for the rest of the season!
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