NHL Betting: Top Favorites & Pretenders Heading Into The Playoffs

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 9:21 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 9:21 PM UTC

With the NHL season hurtling towards the finish line, we look at some of the dangerous floaters in the hunt for a spot in the postseason. Do any offer contrarian value for your NHL picks?

NHL Playoffs Fast Approaching
The NHL Playoffs are a mere six weeks away and a couple of dozen games away (give or take depending on the team). At the time of writing, the team to beat is Washington Capitals behind a stellar 44-10-4 season and 92 points through 58 games played. They have a whopping 11-point edge over the entire league, their nearest rivals are the defending Stanley Cup champions with a 38-19-5 record and 81 points through 62 games.


NHL Outrights According to Bet365 and 5Dimes


The Favorites
As a result, the Capitals have the considerable edge on the NHL odds board across sports betting platforms (Table 1), priced at +320 at Bet365 and a slightly better +325 at 5Dimes. The Blackhawks are double the price almost at +700 with both sportsbooks. The only other triple-digit favorite are the Dallas Stars at +850 at bet365 and +900 at 5Dimes.

The Capitals have long been the frontrunner in the market, but the reigning champions strike an attractive pose to lift Lord Stanley’s mug for a second straight season. Indeed, they’ve been one of the most successful teams in the playoffs in recent memory. Although the Dallas Stars are right in the mix, they don’t quite smack genuine favorites.


The Contenders
Amongst the top contenders Florida Panthers strike an unassuming pose at +1300 at bet365 and a heftier +1600 at 5Dimes – they are currently second in the standings but a whopping 17-points behind the Capitals. Of course, that’s a moot point in the playoffs as the slate is wiped clean and it’s a whole different game. Others joining the Panthers in this category of viable contenders are the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks (runners-up last term), NY Rangers. NY Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning, amongst a few others.

Naturally, the best NHL pick of this lot is going to be Los Angeles Kings because of their championship pedigree. However, if you’re looking for a value NHL pick right now, anyone of these teams is going to be a good bet. If push comes to shove, we’d hang our hats on the NY Rangers, Anaheim Ducks or Tampa Bay Lightning seeing as each of these have been awfully close to winning in recent seasons.


The Pretenders
If the season ended today, the wildcard spots would be clinched by Detroit and Pittsburgh in the East and Nashville and Colorado in the West. However, there’s still a lot of hockey to be played and its quite possible one or more of the teams will be left out of the proceedings. Each is faced with stiff competition in their respective fields.

The side at the most disadvantage is Colorado, hanging by a thread with a 31-27-4 mark and 66 points. They’ve played the most games so far of the Western Conference field which means they’ll need to win out the rest of the schedule as best as they can in order to remain abreast of the chasing pack that includes Minnesota Wild (+3000 at bet365 and +3500 at 5Dimes), Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks – all three of which have three games in hand over Colorado. Frankly, even the Nashville Predators are teetering on the edge with a 28-21-11 mark and 67 points through 60 games. What makes this section particularly difficult to predict at this point in time is poor form across the board. Just about every single team is no higher than .500 in recent weeks. The only team showing a glimmer of life right now is the Wild, who are riding a four-game winning streak to improve to a 4-5-1 record in their last ten games. They are just two points adrift of Colorado, putting them into the best position to shake things up down the stretch. That said, any team could, theoretically, all of a sudden perk up and ride momentum into the playoffs.

Over on the other side, the Eastern Conference, things are just as topsy-turvy. As it is, Detroit and Pittsburgh are in the wildcard spots with 69 and 68 points, respectively. However, the Red Wings are riding an awful four-game losing streak, which puts them in real danger of slipping out of the playoff picture if they don’t turn things around. Plus the Penguins are advancing with a verve and swagger, boasting a 6-3-1 record in the last ten games. They have two games in hand over the Red Wings and could potentially leapfrog in the standings if they continue this good form down the stretch.

Other playoff hopefuls include the Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators, amongst others. However, this triplet has been inconsistent in recent weeks and unless they can string together a convincing run of form they might be looking from the outside in when all is said and done.

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