The NHL is down to its last couple of games of the Regular Season, and with spots still up for grabs in both conferences, now is the perfect time to lock in a couple of Futures Bets on two teams who could make the Stanley Cup and consider a couple of others who might provide value and two others who don’t.
Wherefore Art Thou Late NHL Stanley Cup and Conference Value?
The NHL Regular season is quickly coming to an end, and as of today (Tuesday, April 7), there are still 18 teams playing for the 16 NHL Playoffs spots—9 each in the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. And with some past heavy hitters like Jonathan Quick and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings (39-25-15, 213 GF-197 GA, 93 points), Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins (42-26-11, 215 GF-203, 95 points) the Boston Bruins (41-25-13, 209 GF-201 GA, 95 points) and Detroit Red Wings (41-25-13, 227 GF-215 GA, 95 points) all still fighting for their playoff lives; some new and exciting teams from hungry hockey markets like the Minnesota Wild (44-27-8, 223 GF-194 GA, 96 points) and Winnipeg Jets (41-26-12, 224 GF-208 GA, 94 points); and, some postseason Canadian familiars like the Vancouver Canucks (46-29-5, 231 GF-217 GA, 97 points), Ottawa Senators (40-26-13, 228 GF-211 GA, 93 points) and the Calgary Flames (43-29-7, 234 GF-208 GA, 93 points) all still making a run at some NHL glory this season, and all thinking that they have the rosters this season to actually win Lord Stanley’s little silver cup, there is still value to be had in the betting markets. The Field is wide open this year, as they say. And the crazy thing is, despite this late, late point in the Regular Season—which ends on April 11 (this Saturday)—all 9 teams listed above still haven’t qualified for the NHL Playoffs (April 15) yet. No sheet. So, much will be resolved between Tuesday and Saturday. And maybe a little too much for the 2 teams of the 10 who won’t be participating in that always classic First Round.
The 9 NHL teams who have already qualified? In the Eastern Conference, it’s the New York Rangers (51-27-7, 244 GF-185 GA, NHL-leading 109 points), Montreal Canadiens (48-28-8, 213 GF-183 GA, 106 points), Tampa Bay Lightning (48-24-8, 255 GF-206 GA, 104 points), Washington Capitals (44-25-11, 237 GF-199 GA, 99 points) and New York Islanders (46-27-6, 241 GF-219, 98 points); and, in the Western Conference, so far it’s the Anaheim Ducks (50-23-7, 234 GF-221 GA, 107 points), St. Louis Blues (49-23-7, 242 GF-197 GA, 105 points), Nashville Predators (47-22-10, 242 GF-197 GA, 104 points) and Chicago Blackhawks (48-25-16, 225 GF-182 GA, 102 points) who have all actually qualified to date. Below, you can handily find the best current Futures Books numbers (in odds order) for the 18 NHL teams still mathematically left in the race for the 2015 Stanley Cup along with the sportsbook or sportsbooks that had these NHL betting odds, on Tuesday morning.
Best Stanley Cup Futures Book Odds (Source: Oddschecker, April 7)
New York Rangers +850, Coral
Chicago Blackhawks +900, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes
St. Louis Blues +1000, Betfair
Anaheim Ducks +1000, BetVictor
Montreal Canadiens +1000, Boyle Sports, BetVictor, Paddy Power
Tampa Bay Lightning +1100, BetVictor
Nashville Predators +1400, Boyle Sports, Coral, William Hill
New York Islanders +1600, William Hill, Betfair
Pittsburgh Penguins +1600, BetVictor, Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill
Minnesota Wild +1800, Coral
Los Angeles Kings +1800, Ladbrokes
Washington Capitals +2000, Coral
Detroit Red Wings +2000, Coral, Ladbrokes
Boston Bruins +2200, William Hill
Vancouver Canucks +2200, Coral
Winnipeg Jets +4000, bet365, Boyle Sports, BetVictor, Coral, William Hill, Spreadex
Calgary Flames +4000, Coral
Ottawa Senators +5000, Sky Bet, Coral, William Hill, Spreadex, Betway
Why Today (Tuesday, April 7) Matters
Two games on Tuesday's NHL betting board which really stick out in terms of potential playoff implications for both teams, are the Pittsburgh Penguins (L3) against the Ottawa Senators (NHL Center Ice—Channel 4, 7:35 p.m. ET/4:35 p.m. PT; Betting Odds: Senators -120, Total: 5½, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa in an Eastern Conference skate and the Winnipeg Jets traveling to the Gateway City and the Scottrade Center to face the St. Louis Blues in a Western Conference ice dance with punching and the occasional (tax-free) stick to the pills (NHL Center Ice—Channel 5, 8:35 p.m. ET/5:35 p.m. PT; Betting Odds: Blues -166, Total: 5½, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). The Blues, who have already qualified for the NHL Playoffs, are really the only team of these four that can really afford a loss on Tuesday. And, worth noting here puckheads, is that the cable network NHL Center Ice has its annual Free Preview from now until the end of the Regular Season going on right now, so you can pretty much see any NHL game you need to see (in North America).
And also worth noting here, even though there are only 18 teams still already in, or in contention for an NHL postseason spot—after play of Monday, April 6—some sportsbooks still actually have Future Books odds still up for some already eliminated teams like the Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and even the Philadelphia Flyers who are still, according to the Oddschecker screen available at +500,000 at one joint. Value, value, value, value...if somehow a Meteor wipes out some of the USA and leaves like the Flyers and the Oilers up in Canada and Commissioner Bettman (who has survived in an underground bunker made of used hockey pucks), decides to play the Stanley Cup anyway, because it too, somehow survived this theoretical Meteor I used to make a point about a line still being up on Philadelphia (and others). No doubt they’ll be taken down soon.
The Futures Plays
The team that looks like a good play to win the Stanley Cup is the Anaheim Ducks (7-3-0 L10), a club which is hungry, has played consistently all season and has to be a little bit angry their Southern California rivals—the Los Angeles Kings—have won the Stanley Cup twice in the last three years. The winner should come from the Western Conference—the stronger of the NHL’s two conferences (once again) this season, although getting through the Western Conference Playoffs—just like the NBA—is so darn physical that it often leaves the conference champs a little too beat up for finals (Stanley Cup or NBA Finals) series’. We should see it play out again this season—potentially a good thing for teams like the Bruins, Canadiens, Cleveland Cavaliers (+275 to win NBA Championship, bet365) or maybe the Chicago Bulls (+1800, BetVictor) who will all be looking to come out of the East in the NHL and NBA, respectively.
And, the Montreal Canadiens (25-9-6 Home) seem primed as ever to win the Eastern Conference Finals (+525 to win Eastern Conference, 888Sport) this season (over the Boston Bruins in my mind). In the Regular Season, Les Habs went a perfect 4-0 against the B’s, outscoring them 16-6 in the four games, and also winning their one preseason skate. There’s that old adage that Defense Wins Championships and the Canadiens, behind goalie Carey Price (1.93 GAA, .935 Save Percentage) have the NHL’s best Goals Against Average, allowing a microscopic 2.2 gpg—Gump Worsley would be very proud—so maybe this is the year Montreal makes the rest of Canada extremely proud. We’ll know soon enough as puck drops on the NHL Playoffs in a little more than a week.
NHL FUTURES PICKS: Anaheim Ducks to win Stanley Cup 10/1 (BetVictor), Montreal Canadiens to win Eastern Conference +525 (888Sport)
LONGSHOT STANLEY CUP PICK: Winnipeg Jets 40/1 (bet365)