The field is set for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with all 16 teams which will be continuing their seasons. Hockey aficionados talk about how different the postseason is and are they correct!
The fairest comparison the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is they remind us of the NCAA men's basketball tournament for the opening round. The number of upsets can be mind-boggling, as the higher seeds are knocked off, stunning everyone who was making NHL picks who had these clubs at least in the Conference Finals and beyond. However, most years the better teams advance after that point, but not always as we have witnessed.
When looking at the NHL odds, here are aspects to placing series wagers and individual game bets for the opening round of the playoffs.
First Round Upsets are Common Based on Seeding
Going back five years of postseason action, the most important aspect you need to understand first is lower seeded squads have won 17 of the 40 series played in the conference quarterfinals, which is 35 percent. Think about the NBA, which is most chalk-laden among all the professional sports and how often does a conference final not feature a team seeded 1,2 or 3?
That is not the case in hockey. While it is true a No. 4 vs. No.5 more often than not is not a big upset if the lower seed takes the series, this is not where the majority of upsets have come from.
While the NHL went away from true seeding 1-thru-8 last season, if you use same formula as the past based on points earned in your conference, seven times out of 10 in the past five years a No.6 seed has ended the season of a No.3 seed, right in the opening round.
Hockey by its nature of having so few scores lends itself to upsets and with the parity in the league, you have two players who are dialed in and can find the back of the net and a goalie who turns in brick wall for a series, they can win four times in a seven-game series.
Higher Seeds are Tricky Bets Game to Game and For Series
Only one No.1 seed has fallen in the opening round and that was Vancouver being vanquished by No.8 Los Angeles, who suffered injuries, got healthy at the end of the season and were not your typical club as a eighth-seed, later becoming Stanley Cup champions in 2012.
In 2012, the New York Rangers needed seven games as the No.1 seed to oust Ottawa and two years later Anaheim won in OT at Dallas in six contests.
No.2 seeds have not been nearly as fortunate and have been a more than most bettors would realize victim since 2011. Here is the list of second-seed fatalities:
2015 No.2 St. Louis losses to Minnesota in six
2014 No.2 Colorado losses to Minnesota in seven
2013 No.2 Anaheim losses to Detroit in seven
2013 No.2 Montreal losses to Ottawa in five
2012 No.2 Boston losses to Washington in seven
What this tells us a No.7 seed has come away with a series upset exactly half the time (5 of 10) and we will remind you No.7 Buffalo pushed No.2 Philadelphia to a deciding seventh game in 2011.
Home Ice Is Not What it Seems
Teams fight late in the season to have coveted home ice advantage, wanting to make sure they are home if a series requires a seventh game.
Yet, when looking at all the data, much we have already presented, it is not that large an edge. Of the 263 first round playoff encounters in the past five years, the home team is merely 145-118, a 55.1 winning percentage. Much of this can be dismissed when you consider the level of competition each team is facing, but the simple truth is when you factor in most home teams are favored on the money line, some with large numbers if a No.1 or No.2 seed, betting on the visitor is a far better proposition.
Taking this one step further, of the 40 series, only 12 times has the club taken both games on home ice to start a series (30 percent). In fact, on five occasions the visiting club has marched in scored a pair of upsets before heading home for Game 3.
Thus, the much fought after home ice edge has been gone after just two contests of opening round of the postseason 70 percent of the time.
Utilize all these points to start your Stanley Cup wagering and you could have a wad of cash heading into next round of hockey playoffs.