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Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights carries the Stanley Cup as we offer the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs betting guide.
Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights carries the Stanley Cup on the ice before the team's home opener against the Seattle Kraken at T-Mobile Arena on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

With the dust finally settling on the 2023-24 regular season, it's time to turn our attention to the NHL playoffs. Here's our all-encompassing Stanley Cup Playoffs betting guide, offering tips about what to look out for when locking in your picks, how to watch, and which favorites have the best shot of sipping from the Holy Grail. 

The nail-biting, fist-clenching, eyebrow-plucking, nervous-twitch season is finally upon us as sports bettors look forward to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The on-ice product is faster, more physical, and more competitive, where a single mistake or moment of magic can result in a wholesale switch from smelly hockey gear to comfortably fitting golf attire. 

Thanks to Commissioner Gary Bettman and his lifelong project of finding ways to obtain ultimate parity, any team that secures a playoff berth can win it all. Just ask the Florida Panthers, who entered the 2022-23 playoffs as the Eastern Conference's eighth seed yet advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. They ultimately fell just short but defied the odds in winning three playoff series. Unsurprisingly, they are once again in the mix according to the odds from our best NHL betting sites.

So, was the Panthers' unlikely run to the final an anomaly, and what should we expect entering the first round of the 2024 playoffs? 

2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs matchups: Round 1

FavoriteUnderdogStart date
PanthersLightningSunday, April 21
BruinsMaple LeafsSaturday, April 20
RangersCapitalsSunday, April 21
HurricanesIslandersSaturday, April 20

Stanley Cup playoffs betting tips 

Our dedicated Stanley Cup odds have updated betting lines for all playoff participants, including the teams our best sports betting sites deem the most likely to win. Let's take a look at some trends from the previous three playoffs and dive into the most influential stats when deciding which team or teams to put your faith and money behind. 

Does home-ice advantage make a difference? 

With fans overtly more raucous in the playoffs, you'd think it would correlate to a higher win percentage for home teams. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

First, only the best 16 teams participate in the postseason, eradicating the chance of a high-flying home team like the Colorado Avalanche preying on a feeble bottom feeder. We're looking at you, Chicago and San Jose.

That said, home teams actually fare pretty well in the postseason. According to The Athletic, home teams won 55.4% of their games between 2008 and 2022, almost one percent better than the 54.6% in the regular season.

Are deep playoff runs in previous seasons a formula for success?

In short, there's supporting evidence for both sides.

The following cases support the nay side:

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Avalanche in the 2021-22 final before being eliminated in the first round of the 2022-23 playoffs. Blame it on Tampa Bay's exhaustion after making three straight finals, or point to how overdue the Toronto Maple Leafs were after not winning a playoff series for 20 years. Either way, the Lightning can be forgiven for that early exit.

The New York Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in 2021-22 before being ousted in the first round of 2022-23.

The Avalanche won the 2021-22 Stanley Cup before getting knocked out by the Seattle Kraken in the first round of the 2022-23 playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers regressed from 2022 to 2023, falling to the Avalanche in the 2022 Western Conference Final before going out to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in the second round of last season's playoffs.

And here are the yay cases:

In 2021-22, the Carolina Hurricanes made it to the conference semifinals before advancing to the Eastern Conference Final in 2022-23. Rod Brind'Amour's team has been building something for a few years and hopes to clear the final hurdle in 2024. They are the consensus Stanley Cup favorites entering the playoffs.

Finally, the Panthers advanced to the second round of the 2021-22 playoffs before going to the 2022-23 Stanley Cup Finals.

Stanley Cup betting trends and stats to know

In a sports betting world flooded with stats and analytics, it can be challenging to source or decide upon the most influential ones. Hopefully, this will help.

The below 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23 regular-season stats and their corresponding rankings helped pave the way for extended playoff runs.

The belief is that they'll have a similar impact on the 2024 playoffs.

As expected, there are some outliers. For example, I still can't come to terms with the Montreal Canadiens making it to the 2020-21 Stanley Cup Final. Thanks to COVID-19, it was a bizarre season. With traveling across the border nearly impossible, divisions were set up based on geographical proximity, an utter mishmash, like a broken toy re-assembled by a discontent, disenchanted elf ready to walk out on shift at Santa's workshop.

The Canadiens took full advantage, winning three rounds despite their tragically poor regular-season stats.

These stats are ranked in descending order from highest to lowest priority. You'll want to pay particular attention to scoring first win percentage, leading after one period win percentage, and goals against per game. The provided stats are from and

The teams highlighted are the four that made it to the conference finals in each season.

2022-23 regular season

PanthersHurricanes StarsGolden Knights (Cup winner)
Scoring first win %18th3rd 8th2nd
Goals against per game21st2nd3rd11th
One-goal game winning %14th T-328thT-5
Win % leading after 1 period 17th10th7th6th
Goals for per game6th15th7th14th
Corsi %3rd1st10th22nd
Power play10thT-205th18th 
Penalty kill23rd2nd3rd19th
Home points percentagetied for 12th 4th 8thT-12
Away points percentagetied for 17th 9th 8th T-2

2021-22 regular season

RangersLightning OilersAvalanche (Cup winner)
Scoring first win %2nd9th1st 3rd
Goals against per game2nd 6th 18thT-9
One-goal game winning %8th 11th 7th6th
Win % leading after 1 period T-616th 1st3rd
Goals for per gameT-16T-7T-74th 
Corsi %19th 17th 3rd 6th 
Home points %8th 6th 9th 1st
Away points %14th 12th 9th 10th 
Power play4th 8th3rd7th 
Penalty kill7th 11th 17th 15th 

2020-21 regular season

Golden Knights IslandersCanadiens Lightning (Cup winner)
Scoring first win %1st3rdT-244th 
Goals against per game1st 2nd17th 6th
One-goal game winning %8th14th 25th 3rd
Win % leading after 1 period 5th 7th 22ndT-1
Goals for per game3rd 21st17th T-8
Corsi %6th19th 2nd 9th 
Home points %5th T-320th 8th 
Away points %T-3T-22T-1511th 
Power play22nd 20th 17th 9th 
Penalty kill1st 6th 23rd4th 

2023-24 regular season - The six favorites

Scoring first win %T-43rd 21st11th T-9T-4
Goals against per game3rd2ndT-169th10th7th 
One-goal game winning %13th T-614th 4th T-61st 
Win % leading after 1 periodT-615th 17th T-912th 16th 
Goals for per game8th 14th 1st 4th 3rd 7th 
Corsi %1st 2nd 6th 3rd 5th 19th 
Home points %5th 11th 1stT-2T-8T-2
Away points %5th 3rd T-1211th 1st 6th 
Power play2nd 8th T-5T-3T-5T-3
Penalty kill1st 6th 12th T-138th 3rd

How important is entering the playoffs on a hot streak?

You might debate with your friends over a cold pint whether entering the playoffs on a hot streak, with the momentum of a bullet train at top speed, is important to first-round success or a deep playoff run.

Well, here's how the Stanley Cup winners and conference finalists from the last three seasons fared in the 10 games before the playoffs commenced.

In 2020-21, the Lightning were 6-3-1, the Canadiens 4-4-2, the New York Islanders 3-4-3, the Vegas Golden Knights 7-3. Again, that season was a bit of a crapshoot, reflected by the Islanders and Canadiens' middling records and substandard stats entering the postseason.

In 2021-22, three of the four conference finalists looked pretty good in the last 10 games. The Lightning were 7-3, the Rangers 6-4, and the Oilers 7-2-1. The only team under .500 in the final 10 games, somewhat counterintuitively, won the Stanley Cup. The Avs stumbled into the playoffs with a 4-5-1 record.

In 2022-23, all four conference finalists entered the postseason with .500 or better records over their last 10 contests. The Hurricanes, with a 5-5 record, were the worst of the bunch. The Panthers were 6-3-1, the Dallas Stars 8-2, and the champion Golden Knights 6-1-3.

Regarding the other four 2022-23 first-round victors, the Kraken were 6-4, the Oilers 9-0-1, the Maple Leafs 7-1-2, and the Devils 7-3-0. Last year's first round was a shining example supporting the importance of playing well as the playoffs dawned.

How do underdogs fare in the first round? 

First round of the 2022-23 playoffs

Two of eight underdogs upset the favorites in the first round of the 2022-23 playoffs, and both were wild-card entrants. In their second season, the Kraken finished the regular season as the first wild-card team and upset the second-seeded Avalanche in a thrilling seven-game series.

The Panthers were the other giant killer, taking out the utterly dominant Presidents' Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 7. Florida went on to cause two more upsets, beating the Maple Leafs and Hurricanes, before losing to the Golden Knights in the final.

First round of the 2021-22 playoffs

The same upset rate, 25%, occurred in the first round of the 2021-22 playoffs, with two underdogs prevailing. However, the upsets weren't nearly as shocking. In the Atlantic Division, the third-place Lightning took out the second-place Maple Leafs. Not only did the Lightning finish the season just five points behind the Maple Leafs, but the Buds hadn't won a playoff series in 20 years and were renowned for falling flat on their face in the first round, while the Lightning had just won back-to-back Stanley Cups—hardly a surprising turn of events.

The other minor upset came from the Central Division, where the third-place St. Louis Blues ousted the second-place Minnesota Wild. The Blues finished the season four points back of the Wild.

First round of previous three playoffs

The 2020-21 NHL playoffs were equal measures weird and perplexing. There was a wholesale change to NHL alignment due to travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, creating a peculiar first round that featured a 50% upset rate, with four of the eight series seeing the underdog moving on.

The 2019-20 playoffs, dubbed the bubble playoffs, were so strange that Stranger Things felt normal. As no fans were permitted, the atmosphere in Toronto and Edmonton, the two hub cities, was non-existent, resembling your local public library. Despite all the obscurity, the script mirrored the 2021-22 and 2022-23 first rounds, with two underdogs advancing.

The 2018-19 first round paid homage to those who love a risky yet potentially advantageous underdog wager. The underdog won six of the eight first-round series, including seismic upsets that sent packing all four No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. Most notably, the Lightning were swept aside in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning learned their lesson, however, and won the next two Stanley Cups.

The Curse of the Presidents' Trophy winner 

It sure feels good to win the Presidents' Trophy, right? Pose that question to any player on a Presidents' Trophy-winning team in the last 10 years, and don't be surprised if the response turns physical. The 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks were the last Presidents' Trophy winners to do the double act and win the Stanley Cup.

That sounds like an ominous omen for the Rangers, who secured the Presidents' Trophy after beating the Ottawa Senators 4-0 on April 15. The Blueshirts, though, might consider it a rite of passage, as the 1993-94 Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers, led by Mark Messier, won the Cup a few months later.

Since 1986-87, eight teams won the Presidents' Trophy and Stanley Cup: the 1986-87 Oilers, the 1988-89 Calgary Flames, the 1993-94 Rangers, the 1998-99 Stars, the 2000-01 Avalanche, the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings, the 2007-08 Red Wings, and the 2012-13 Blackhawks. 

Season Presidents' Trophy winner Playoff result 
2022-23BruinsFirst round 
2021-22PanthersSecond round
2020-21Avalanche Second round
2019-20BruinsSecond round
2018-19LightningFirst round
2017-18Predators Second round
2016-17CapitalsSecond round
2015-16CapitalsSecond round 
2014-15RangersConference final
2013-14BruinsSecond round
2012-13 BlackhawksStanley Cup winner 

Back-to-back Stanley Cup winners

There hasn't been a three-peat since the New York Islanders won four Stanley Cups in a row from 1980-83. What a time it would have been to be an Islanders fan. Such an extended period of glory is unheard of in the salary cap era.

While that may be true, a few franchises have given it a valiant effort. The Oilers lifted the Cup in 1987 and '88, and the Penguins accomplished the feat twice under two different generational players. The Mario Lemieux-led Pens won in 1991 and '92, while Sidney Crosby took the reins for the 2016 and '17 Cup triumphs.

The Red Wings secured back-to-back titles in 1997 and '98, and the Lightning were the last team to pull off the accomplishment, winning in 2020 and '21. They came closest to winning three in a row but fell at the final hurdle, losing in six games to the Avs in 2022.

2024 Stanley Cup playoffs betting previews: Round 1

Here is our collection of first-round preview content to get you ready for the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs.

2023-24 NHL playoffs schedule, start date, how to watch

When do the playoffs start?

The playoffs will begin on Saturday, April 20 with a chockfull schedule, which usually features four games per day until teams start falling like snow during a Toronto winter storm.

When is the Stanley Cup Final? 

The league tentatively set Wednesday, June 3, as the start date of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. Of course, that may vary depending on the length of each previous series.

The NHL is looking to have a Stanley Cup winner by no later than Monday, June 17.

How to watch the NHL playoffs

If you're north of the 59th parallel and dwell in Canada, you can watch every game on Sportsnet or CBC.

Those in the U.S., can join ESPN and the Turners' bevy of networks. Saturday's first-round games will be aired on ABC, while the other contests will air on a consortium of channels, including ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, TBS, or TruTV.

The second round and conference finals are televised on ESPN and TNT, while the former gets the honor of showing the Stanley Cup Final.

How to stream the 2024 NHL playoffs

In Canada, Sportsnet has a streaming service called SN Now, while CBC games can be streamed on its CBC Gem service. Those in the U.S., have various options, including ESPN+, Fubo, the TNT app, and SlingTV.

What are the best Stanley Cup playoff bonuses?

It's important to get the most out of your NHL playoff wagers, including shopping around for the best sportsbook promos. Another critical component of betting on the NHL playoffs is ensuring you're getting the best NHL odds

If you don't have an account or are looking to expand your sports betting repertoire, take an in-depth look at our best sports betting sites. They will give you all the ammunition you need to make the best choices. 

Here are our best NHL betting sites:

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* Bonuses not applicable in Ontario.

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