By: Ryan Gilbert
Best Bets in the East: NHL Eastern Conference Champion Odds
The Eastern Conference is the most competitive it has been in quite some time, and just in time for a 24-team playoff. With four teams playing in a round-robin tournament to determine the top four seeds, and eight teams playing in head-to-head qualifying series, there is plenty to analyze in terms of betting odds.
Which teams are the best bets given the Eastern Conference Champion odds and Stanley Cup odds? Let’s start with the top four teams, the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and the Stanley Cup.
NHL Eastern Conference Best Bets: The Best of the Best
The four teams in the round-robin tournament in the Eastern Conference are the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers. Each team had varying levels of success throughout the season, but they all came out on top as the best four teams in the conference. Now, they’ll have a chance to earn the top seed in a round-robin tournament.
These four teams are undoubtedly the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. The Bruins and Lightning are each at +300 to win the East, while the Capitals and Flyers both come in at +550. There is some daylight there separating the four teams, but not much.
Out of the Bruins and Lightning, the Bruins are the better bet to win the Eastern Conference at +300.
Boston won the East last year and took the St. Louis Blues to seven games in the Stanley Cup Finals. They brought back most of their same roster this season, and they’re looking for revenge. The Bruins were the best team in the league in the regular season, and with their “Perfection Line” and dominant duo in goal, they are the favorites for a reason.
The Lightning may have missed their window to win it all, or at least it’s closing a bit. They’re still a great team and have a good chance to win the Cup, but they are just a tad below the Bruins in my mind.
The Capitals and Flyers are trickier to separate, but the late-season surge that the Flyers had makes me give them the edge. Yes, the Capitals won the Stanley Cup two years ago, but now they are two years older. That two years of age is an asset for an up-and-coming Flyers team, while it’s a liability for the aging Capitals.
If you want to bet on one of the four favorites to win the Eastern Conference, go with the Boston Bruins (+300; +650 to win the Stanley Cup) or Philadelphia Flyers (+550; +1000 to win the Stanley Cup).
Longshot NHL Eastern Conference Odds: From Qualifiers to Champions?
Of the eight teams fighting for a playoff spot in the best-of-five series, there aren’t that many that have a great chance of going all the way.
One of the main teams that does, however, is the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins just barely missed out on the round-robin tournament and are now fully healthy going into the playoffs.
Once they get past the Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round, they could get rolling with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and a tandem of Tristan Jarry and Matt Murray in net.
The Penguins are +850 to win the Eastern Conference and +1500 to win the Stanley Cup.
If you’re looking for a longshot, the Carolina Hurricanes are worth a look. It’s a weird season, and it just feels like a team could come out of nowhere to win it all. The Hurricanes made a deep run in last year’s playoffs and could provide some great value at +1800 to win the Eastern Conference and +3500 to win the Stanley Cup.
Who to bet on?
There are a few different teams worth looking at depending on your risk tolerance. If you want to sit back, relax, and hopefully have a smooth ride to profits, go with the Bruins or Flyers. If you want to risk a bit more and be on the edge of your seat, go with the Penguins or Hurricanes.