Thursday’s Stanley Cup Playoffs slate features another four games. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning will start off the day’s action with a 3 p.m. ET puck drop at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. They’ll try to solve things in 60 minutes after playing the fourth-longest game in Stanley Cup Playoff history in Tuesday’s First Round series opener. The page below will preview each of Thursday’s four games and recap Game 1 of each series. We’ll also look at NHL playoffs odds from the top US sportsbooks for each game and series as a whole.
NHL playoffs betting odds
NHL game breakdowns for August 13, 2020
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (3 p.m. ET)
The fourth-longest game in NHL playoff history ended in a 3-2 win for the Lightning with Brayden Point scoring his second goal of the game and third of the postseason 10:27 into the fifth overtime session. The Eastern Conference’s 2-7 First Round matchup gets back on the ice less than 48 hours later for Game 2.
Blue Jackets G Joonas Korpisalo set a modern-day NHL record with 85 saves on 88 shots. The breakout star of the postseason upped his playoffs save percentage to .960 with a 1.34 goals against average through five games played. Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy had a relaxing evening by comparison, stopping 61 of 63 shots on goal.
All but two skaters who dressed for Game 1 played 20-plus minutes in the marathon. Blue Jackets Ds Seth Jones and Zach Werenski logged 65:06 and 61:14 of ice time, respectively. Despite the grind of Game 1, neither side suffered an injury and no changes are expected for Thursday’s follow-up. Lightning C Steven Stamkos will remain sidelined by a lower-body injury.
Despite the narrow result of Game 1, the Lightning enter Thursday as the second-biggest moneyline favorites on the slate. The puck line suggests another one-goal game and the projected goal total of 5.5 is juiced toward the Under.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vegas Golden Knights (5:30 p.m. ET)
The newly top-seeded Golden Knights took it to the Blackhawks in Game 1, winning 4-1 and outshooting them 34-20. Including blocked and missed shots, Vegas had 58 attempts to Chicago’s 50. Vegas is now 3-1 against Chicago including the regular-season meetings.
Golden Knights G Robin Lehner stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced against his former team. Corey Crawford continued his lackluster postseason play by stopping 30 of 34 shots. Knights RW Reilly Smith scored twice in the third period with both goals assisted by LW Jonathan Marchessault. LW Max Pacioretty played 18:08 in his postseason debut and racked up four shots on goal.
It was a continuation of the Golden Knights’ excellent analytical play. They have had the better Corsi For rating in three of their four postseason games, including the Western Conference round robin, after leading the NHL in the regular season at 54.76% at 5-on-5. They’ve won three of four games since the restart by two or more goals.
No lineup changes are expected for either team going into Game 2. Crawford will retain the starting job over backup Malcolm Subban despite his poor play.
The impressive Game 1 performance keeps the Golden Knights as the heaviest moneyline favorites on Thursday’s slate. They’re also priced as the most likely team to win by at least 2 goals. The goal total has dropped slightly at some books after Game 1 played to the Under. It’s likely to be bet up by game time in expectation of another Vegas blowout.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET)
The Hurricanes and Bruins will try again for another 8 p.m. ET start after having their originally-scheduled opener pushed from Tuesday night to Wednesday at 11 a.m. due to the Lightning-Blue Jackets marathon. They went to double overtime themselves after all the waiting, with the Bruins squeaking out a 4-3 win with Patrice Bergeron’s goal 1:13 into the second extra frame.
It was Boston’s first victory after the midseason paused. The fell from first in the Eastern Conference to fourth while going 0-3-0 in round-robin play. Carolina swept the New York Rangers in three games and slid into fifth in the conference. The ‘Canes outscored the Rangers 11-4, while the Bruins were outscored 9-4 in the round robin.
Former Stanley Cup and Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask continued his unaccustomed mediocre postseason play while stopping just 25 of 28 shots in Wednesday’s extra-time win. Petr Mrazek made 36 saves on 40 shots in the losing effort.
Former Bruins D Dougie Hamilton returned for Game 1 for the Hurricanes. They’re expected to get more reinforcements for Game 2 with D Sami Vatanen and RW Justin Williams possibly returning to the lineup. No changes are expected for Boston.
Boston’s now a slightly larger favorite than it was for Game 1, after getting its first win since March. The puck line is weighted heavily toward a one-goal game after the double-OT opener.
Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars (10:30 p.m. ET)
The Flames pulled the modest upset in the first game of their 4-5 Western Conference series with the Stars. They won 3-2 in a game that started well after the Lightning and Blue Jackets at Rogers Place in Edmonton and still finished first.
It was the third straight win for Calgary, but they have lost the Corsi battle in four of their five postseason games. They ranked 15th in the regular season at 50.25% at 5-on-5. The Stars were 18th at 49.48%.
Dallas is in desperate need of offense. The Stars scored just 180 goals in 69 regular-season games and now have just seven goals in four playoff games. Their lone win thus far was a 3-2 shootout victory against the St. Louis Blues in their final game of the round robin. Tuesday’s series opener was the second of four head-to-head meetings this season to be decided by a single goal.
The Stars could receive a boost for Game 2 with Ben Bishop expected to be available to replace Anton Khudboin, not that Tuesday’s loss was entirely his fault. No changes are expected for the Canadian club.
Multiple books are pricing this game as a pick ‘em, the only one on Thursday’s four-game slate. The books are split on which team is favored on the puck line, but all books heavily skew those prices in the direction of a one-goal game. The projected goal total is priced as the lowest on the slate.
ALSO READ: NHL betting picks for Thursday, August 13
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NHL Playoffs odds: Quarterfinals series
A look at DraftKings Sportsbook’s NHL Playoffs odds on which team will take the quarterfinals series’.
- Boston Bruins -150 vs. Carolina Hurricanes +127
- Washington Capitals -143 vs. New York Islanders +122
- Colorado Avalanche -286 vs. Arizona Coyotes +235
- Philadelphia Flyers -240 vs. Montreal Canadiens +195
- St. Louis Blues -200 vs. Vancouver Canucks +167
- Tampa Bay Lightning -500 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets +375
- Vegas Golden Knights -560 vs. Chicago Blackhawks +400
- Calgary Flames -200 vs. Dallas Stars +165
Who is favored to win the 2019-20 Stanley Cup?
Both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook had the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning as co-favorites to win the Stanley Cup entering the restart. Both books had them at +650 to win it all on Aug. 1. The Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights were the favorites from the Western Conference. The Knights were +800 and the Avalanche were +900 at DraftKings. FanDuel had Colorado slightly ahead of the Knights, +800 to +850.
You can find the current Stanley Cup futures odds below.
NHL playoffs odds and betting trends
There have been just six different Stanley Cup winners in the last 10 years with the Blackhawks winning thrice, and the Penguins and Kings each winning twice. Since the canceled 2004-05 season, there have been nine different teams raise the Cup.
Of the nine teams to win the Cup since the 2004-05 lockout, only the Hurricanes (2005-06) and Blues (2018-19) have won after missing the playoffs the previous season. The Hurricanes, Ducks, and Penguins had all been to the Stanley Cup Final and lost within three seasons prior to their victory.
The perceived advantage of postseason experience is often tied to the ability of teams to handle the added intensity of more meaningful games at the end of a grueling 82-game regular season. All 24 teams in the NHL bubble played between 68 and 71 games in the regular season.
They’ve now enjoyed greater than a four-month break and have largely recovered from injuries and fatigue. The race to the Cup may be more wide-open than ever before.
Possible betting edges to target: Age, goaltending, road records
Here are some other potential edges to target when looking at NHL playoffs odds and making your Stanley Cup Playoff bets.
The tables may turn toward youth and inexperience with the customary playoff this season. The Colorado Avalanche entered the 2019-20 campaign as the NHL’s youngest team at an average age of 25.7. The Predators, who are also one of the league’s most experienced teams, are the oldest at an average age of 28.7.
Each of the six youngest teams in the NHL entering the season are in these playoffs with the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, and Jets joining the Avs. Five of the six oldest teams are still standing – with the Red Wings (28.6) having fallen well short. The Capitals are the 10th-oldest team at 27.9 and also have five straight seasons of playoff berths.
Goaltending may be even more important than usual this postseason. In particular, it’s likely teams will need to use more than one goaltender in the condensed schedule featuring plenty of 12 p.m. ET start times and few multi-day breaks.
Stars goaltenders Anton Khudobin (.930) and Ben Bishop (.920) ranked first and 10th, respectively, among qualified goalies in save percentage. Dallas ranked second to the Boston Bruins with a 5-on-5 save percentage of .933 as a team. Each of the top 10 teams in the category are in the playoffs.
The Panthers (.911), Maple Leafs (.912), and Golden Knights (.912) were worst among playoff teams in that category.
Finally, the home-ice advantage so highly coveted in a standard NHL season has also flown out the window this year. For what it’s worth, the Avalanche were the best road team in hockey this season at 24-11-2 away from Pepsi Center. The Flames showed the biggest discrepancy between their home and away records, as they went 16-13-4 at home but 20-14-3 on the road.
NHL playoffs odds: How to bet the Stanley Cup Playoffs
NHL playoffs odds and futures lines have been adjusted throughout the year after opening last offseason. Odds have risen and fallen to reflect the standings as underdogs and favorites change place amid losing and winning streaks. The sportsbooks have now reset those odds for the unprecedented 24-team format.
The odds to win the Stanley Cup are always the main draw. The Bruins and Lightning were the favorites when the NHL returned to play, as both had +650 odds to raise the Cup. If you bet on one of the co-favorites in early August, it would return a profit of $65 on a $10 bet for either team to win. The Montreal Canadiens had the highest odds of raising the Cup entering the NHL restart at +8000, where a $10 winning bet would return a profit of $800.
These odds will continue to be updated through the NHL playoffs. With play underway, they’ll be adjusted as teams are eliminated, exceed expectations, or to reflect the betting action of the public. Should the Blackhawks sweep their qualification round and first round series, they could quickly become more heavily favored in this new-look NHL.
Futures bettors can also get action on the winners of each conference. On Aug. 1, the odds for the Bruins and Lightning to make it to the Stanley Cup Final as representatives of the Eastern Conference were +300. In the West, the Vegas Golden Knights overthrew the Avs as +300 favorites.
The next betting options are series lines for the qualification round. Odds will later be released for each game in those series, along with props for the length of those series, the exact series scores, and more. Similar lines will be released for the first and second rounds of the playoffs, the conference finals, and finally, the Stanley Cup Final.
Game lines will include over/unders for goal totals typically ranging from 5 to 6,.5 with odds typically from -120 to +120 on either side. A spread or puck line of +/- 1.5 will handicap the favorites by asking if they’ll win by 1 or more goals. Odds are commonly set at -110 for both teams, whereas a moneyline could price the favorites at a much chalkier -250 with an underdog at +200 or higher to win the game outright.
Player props will be released closer to the beginning of the postseason. These will include a pool of contenders to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs. Odds can range from +100 to +10000 and will reflect both a player’s point production and abilities, and the chances of his team winning the Stanley Cup. Game props will ask simple Yes/No questions such as whether they’ll score a goal or be expressed as an over/under line for how many shots on goal they’ll register or saves a goalie will make.
NHL playoffs odds: Stanley Cup Playoffs betting strategy
In a typical NHL season, the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the resetting of the odds is a good time to hedge against your live futures bets from before the start of the season. Needless to say, this year is different.
Ahead of the qualification round, bettors should be looking to back long shots. All teams are rusty, albeit healthier than ever before to begin a postseason, and there will be little room for error. Look for teams with strong goaltending and defensive systems with one or two game-changing forwards who can capitalize on any mistake made by the opposition.
Discipline will be even more essential than in a standard NHL postseason. Abbreviated training camps following a multi-month pause in play and no warm-up games means teams have little time to get back to game shape. Foolish penalties will quickly lead to disaster.
Lock-in on the underdogs in the qualification round. Series will be played as a best-of-five and there won’t be any home-ice advantage, outside of the hub-city hosts. Hitting just three or four teams at plus-money can result in an overall profit.