NHL Betting Storylines To Follow During Home Stretch

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Written By Evan Scrimshaw | Last Updated
NHL odds

With the NHL season coming to a close, playoff race implications abound. With spots for seeding, division winners, and even the President’s Trophy at stake, NHL betting outcomes will be won and lost down the stretch.

There’s so much left to be decided with only a dozen games left at most. Make sure to check out the best sports betting sites to make sure you’re getting the best NHL odds. With so much up in the air, here are the six most important NHL betting storylines to track until the end of the season.

NHL Stanley Cup Betting Odds


Boston Bruins

BOS

Colorado Avalanche

COL

Toronto Maple Leafs

TOR

Edmonton Oilers

EDM

Carolina Hurricanes

CAR

Vegas Golden Knights

VGK

Florida Panthers

FLA

New York Rangers

NYR

Tampa Bay Lightning

TB

Dallas Stars

DAL

NHL Betting Storylines To Watch

Atlantic Division


Boston Bruins

BOS

Florida Panthers

FLA

One of the most fierce battles in the NHL is the one for the top seed in the Atlantic Division. With home-ice advantage in the second round and the right to avoid the Toronto Maple Leafs on the line, Florida and Boston are both trying to stay in front.

Projections from MoneyPuck have this race slightly tilting to the Panthers despite Boston’s edge in the standings. The Panthers have a five-game advantage on Boston in regulation wins, the likely tiebreaker. Given they have the games in hand, it’s more likely than not Florida will catch Boston.

Metropolitan Division


Carolina Hurricanes

CAR

New York Rangers

NYR

The Rangers have the inside track to the Metropolitan, leading by 2 points with a game in hand on the Hurricanes. They also have every incentive to push, because winning the East means avoiding the Lightning in the first round in favor of a much inferior opponent. Given their incentives, the Rangers should manage to pull it off. At an 88% chance to do so per MoneyPuck, their price still has value.

Central Division


Colorado Avalanche

COL

Dallas Stars

DAL

Winnipeg Jets

WPG

Probably the best division in hockey. Dallas and Colorado are fighting for position atop it. The Stars have the lead but have played an extra game relative to Colorado. By the advanced metrics, there’s little between these teams – both rank top seven in expected goals and top six in 5-on-5 Corsi.

Colorado is 9-1 in their last 10 and Dallas is 8-2, so both teams enter the playoffs hot. However, at the end of the day, Colorado is a more talented team than Dallas. And with the game in hand, that’s enough for me to back Colorado.

Final Playoff Spots


In the West, the playoff field appears set – the Golden Knights are 6 points up on St. Louis for the final spot.

In the East, however, there’s a complete mess. With the last spot in the Metropolitan, the second wild card, up for grabs, four teams remain in the hunt. Philadelphia and Washington currently hold their spots, but Detroit is only 2 points back of Washington (albeit with one more game played).

Washington has played one fewer game than Detroit, two fewer than Philadelphia, and is 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. They have the ability to jump Philly for that third wild-card spot, and Detroit only has 7 points in their last 10 games. Washington to make the playoffs has immense value.

President’s Trophy


Boston Bruins

BOS

Carolina Hurricanes

CAR

Dallas Stars

DAL

New York Rangers

NYR

The interesting thing about the President’s Trophy is that it might be a poisoned chalice. Home ice for the Stanley Cup Finals is worthwhile, but for Western teams, it could also mean a date with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights have aggressively manipulated the NHL’s Long-Term Injury Reserve rules to load up on talent for the playoffs. In all likelihood, they’ll roster a Game 1 playoff lineup that costs $100M – $16.5M than the salary cap, due to the cap turning off in the playoffs.

Whether Western teams will want to avoid the West top seed down the stretch is unclear. But with the best of the East having such clearer incentives to want the best record in the league, that may be a tiebreaker.

MoneyPuck has the Rangers up by nearly 3 points on their projected end-of-season standings. It’s boring to bet the chalk, but at their price, it’s worth a play.

Cup Odds

I wrote in February that the Panthers were my pick to win the Cup and nothing has changed for me. Florida is the best of the East by goal differential, fourth by expected 5-on-5 goals, and third by 5-on-5 Corsi, a leading possession metric. The Panthers also pass all subjective eye test concerns, having made the Cup Finals last year while elevating their game as the playoffs demand.

On the Western side, Edmonton is set up to roll through the first two rounds. The Kings are bad, the Canucks are frauds coasting on elite early shooting that has regressed, and Nashville, while on a heater, has poor Corsi and goal difference metrics. So long as Vancouver comes in second overall behind the winner of the Central Division, Vegas will stay on the other side of the bracket from Edmonton. The goaltending and defense concerns are real, but Edmonton has two of the best three players in the league. If they’re ever going to win, it’ll be this year.

Best of luck with your NHL betting.

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