As the NHL season fast winds down, the playoffs field is fast taking shape. Join us as we rundown through the NHL odds board and spot the teams to watch.
NHL 2014-2015 Season
If there's one thing that the NHL 2014-2015 season has revealed, it's the absence of a true standout in the field. Make no mistake, there are several strong contenders in the mix. None however appears to be a cut above the rest. In fact, this sentiment is echoed on the NHL odds board with seven teams trading in triple digits, closely packed within the +650 to +950 NHL odds range.
Table 1: 2014-2015 NHL Playoff Odds To Win Outright
The Top Faves To Spot
Of the seven short-odds-on favourites on the NHL odds board, the top two are those teams that have already clinched their place in the playoffs by way of clinching their divisional titles: NY Rangers and Anaheim Ducks. The New York Rangers finished runners up last season to the LA Kings, and many are of the opinion they could replicate their inspired run in the upcoming playoffs after racing to the Metropolitan Divisional title almost unchallenged. It's quite likely the Rangers are going to be one of the teams most hockey bettors will spot and the popular hockey pick at +650 to win outright.
The remaining five top faves on the NHL odds board are still in a battle to decide divisional bragging rights. Over in the Central Division, the race is heating up between the Chicago Blackhawks (102 pts), Nashville Predators (104pts) and St. Louis Blues (105 pts). Although the Blues currently hold top spot, it's the Chicago Blackhawks that emerge as the top favourites of the section, largely down to their remarkable playoff account over the past few seasons with their current crop of core players. Certainly, this is the time of the year the Blackhawks seem to find another level, making them also one of the teams to spot in when locking in your NHL picks.
In the Atlantic division, Montreal Canadiens are two points ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning and in pole position to clinch the division title with just two games left on the schedule. Both sides have been solid this season and, as such, emerge as teams to spot in the playoffs for your hockey picks.
Another hockey pick to cast your eye over is Los Angeles Kings at +1500. Last season, the Kings emerged as champions all while entering the series-elimination format of the playoffs as the sixth seed. The two-time Stanley Cup champions aren't a side to overlook.
Finally, the outside hockey picks to consider in this mix are Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington Capitals, priced at +1300 NHL odds, have disappointed in the playoffs, despite being led by one of the hottest players in the game, Alex Ovechkin. Repeated disappointments have soured NHL bettors to the Capitals. That said there's something different about the Capitals that merits consideration this season. Ovechkin is through to a 50-plus goal season and Holtby is standing tall between the pipes, amongst other improvements top to bottom. This could be finally their year.
Given the talent and championship experience contained within the Pittsburgh Penguins, they aren't a team to count out of the proceedings despite their hefty +1500 hockey odds. However, if they are to come through as the long shot NHL pick, they'll need to first clinch a spot in the playoffs and then hit a rich vein of form.
Hockey Betting Verdict:
What makes the NHL playoffs special to sports bettors and a source of profit is the potential for just about any team in the 16-team field to win the Stanley Cup. Only one team in the last six years has finished the regular season at the top of the NHL League (with the most points) and won the Stanley Cup; that was the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-2013. This means the NHL playoffs are essentially wide open, with loads of angles for profit to be had.
NHL Picks: For our recommended hockey picks, we're spotting the NY Rangers at +650 to win outright and the Washington Capitals as the long shot pick at +1300.