NHL Playoffs – Betting Series Prices

Betting the NHL Playoffs and Series Bets vs Futures Win Wager

The opening round of the 2017 NHL playoffs set an overtime record, as 18 first round games went beyond regulation. That included five overtime games between Eastern Conference top-seed Washington and wild card Toronto. The Capitals were the best team in the league during the regular season, and ultimately prevailed in 6 games over the Maple Leafs. But that series result and record overtime games in a series and round proved that NHL playoff hockey is indeed most competitive and exciting.

In last year’s playoffs, only one team was favored in the opening round series by greater than 2-1. That was Washington, who was a -330 favorite over Toronto (+270). In this year’s 2018 NHL playoffs opening round match-ups, there are four teams laying more than 2-1, the best in the West Nashville bet all the way up to (-550) over Colorado, along with Winnipeg (-215) over Minnesota, and the top team in the East Tampa Bay (-315) over New Jersey along with the big rivalry between Pittsburgh (-240) and Philadelphia.

Here is a list of the NHL round 1 match-ups and series prices from leading offshore sports book BookMaker. Click this link for regular season records and results between the two teams.

Eastern Conference – First Round                           Western Conference – First Round

Tampa Bay vs. New Jersey                                          Nashville vs. Colorado
Lightning (-315)                                                                     Predators (-550)
Devils (+255)                                                                         Avalanche (+415)

Washington vs. Columbus                                           Vegas vs. Los Angeles
Capitals (-130)                                                                       Golden Knights (-130)
Blue Jackets (+110)                                                              Kings (+110)

Boston vs. Toronto                                                         Winnipeg vs. Minnesota
Bruins (-145)                                                                         Jets (-215)
Maple Leafs (+125)                                                              Wild (+180)

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia                                        Anaheim vs. San Jose
Penguins (-240)                                                                     Ducks (-120)
Flyers (+200)                                                                         Sharks (+100)

When looking at current futures prices to win the Stanley Cup and comparing them to series prices, the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-1) in the East and Nashville Predators (7-2) in the West are the favorites to hoist the Cup. Shopping for best lines is always important, especially with such a strong hold by the sports books in the futures pool.

But with goaltending being such a key to success in the NHL and especially in the playoffs, it’s usually a risk to lay big prices. The Vegas Golden Knights, once 200-1 or higher to win the Stanley Cup, are currently 8-1 at BookMaker to become NHL champions. They have an exceptional goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury, who keyed the story of the year and remarkable season with record-breaking results for the first year expansion team in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights closed out a sensational season, and if they were to go on and win the Stanley Cup, the Vegas bookmakers in particular would take a huge hit with an enormous amount of futures bets at longer odds on the Knights to win the Cup. In fact, currently in Las Vegas, some bookmakers have the Golden Knights at less than 5-1 to win the Stanley Cup, obviously due to such high liability against the local team. Many bookmakers already were beaten badly by the Golden Knights with their season-leading money line results. Vegas led the league most the regular season in profit produced before finishing No. 2 with the Winnipeg Jets late season run of 11 wins in the final 12 games getting them the title as top profit-producing team.

The playoffs are a completely different environment with more passion and physical play, but the Golden Knights will need to stick to their strategy of playing fast, strong fore checking and forcing turnovers while continuing to get strong goaltending to have a chance to advance in the playoffs. Looking at Winnipeg at 7-1 to also win the Cup, the Jets are a far more viable option to win the championship than Vegas. At least that’s my opinion from a Vegas view. In fact, in playing series prices, there is another option offered at some leading online sportsbooks including reduced juice shop 5Dimes, and that’s to lay -1.5 on the Jets to win their opening series over Minnesota. Instead of laying -215 on the Jets, you can take back a +115 price on Winnipeg to win the series in 6 games or less. Winnipeg won a league-best 32 home games this season, and they are a viable option at a better price to win the West and expect the Jets to dispatch the Wild in round 1. So consider those options, along with rolling over money line series plays instead of betting the Jets or Vegas for example at 8-1 to win the Stanley Cup.

Since future pools are usually a bad bet with the significant house hold, what would happen if you just rolled over each series bet all the way to the Stanley Cup finals? You’ll often get a greater return by betting a team each match-up at the series prices as they move through the playoffs.

Here’s an example using the Winnipeg Jets and estimating future series prices.

Let’s say you want to bet $100 on the Jets to win the Stanley Cup. You’re $100 wager would return $800 ($700 at 7-1 plus original wager). However, if you wager the $100 in the opening series, and roll it over each series, your wager and return would be greater and would look like this. Let’s bet the Jets to win the opening series in 6 games or less at +115 over the Wild as mentioned above. That will increase our profit and also let us roll over more profit in round 2 and beyond while still only risking $100 throughout the playoffs. Then we’ll ride Winnipeg on the money line the rest of the way estimating opponents and series prices. Round 2 the Jets (+140) would be an underdog to top seed Nashville, then a small favorite (-130) in the Western Conference finals against Anaheim (or Vegas!). On to the Stanley Cup, and the Jets (+115) would be a slight underdog to the East’s best team Tampa Bay Lightning. These are estimates, but an illustration and guideline on how it would work and the return.

Round 1 – $100 to win $115

Round 2 – $215 to win $301   (your $100 stake plus $115 profit round 1 win)

West Finals – $516 to win $400

NHL Finals – $916 to win $1,053

Rolling over that same $100 on the Jets each series with the example above wins you more than $1,900 vs the $700 if you bet the same $100 on the Jets to win the Stanley Cup in the futures market. If you use the Jets money line (-240) in the opening round, the win is approx. $1,200, which is still a greater profit than making a future bet on Winnipeg to win the Stanley Cup.

Whatever teams and puck prices you bet in the playoffs, enjoy the games and work hard to stay out of the penalty box, reduce risk, play smart, and you’ll profit from the experience. You can bet on it.

Article posted at osga.com.

Author: FairwayJay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports analyst and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful handicappers and professionals. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay