2020 Stanley Cup Final Betting Preview: The Dallas Stars Road to the Finals

By: Ryan Gilbert 

one playoff round for that matter. They drew a tough hand with their matchups, but played it to perfection to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Here is how they got there and what to watch for in the Stanley Cup Final.

Round-robin tournament: 1-2-0

The Dallas Stars didn’t look too hot in their first three games of the restart. They blew a 3-1 lead by allowing four unanswered goals in the third period en route to a 5-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in their opener.

Those third-period struggles carried over into their second round-robin game. They were shut out by the Colorado Avalanche, 4-0, to fall to 0-2 in the round-robin tournament. Their third and final game was against the other winless team to that point: the St. Louis Blues.

The reigning Stanley Cup champions put up a fight against the Stars in a low-scoring affair, with the Stars finally getting their first win – albeit in overtime. Joe Pavelski scored with 32 seconds left to tie the game at one, then Denis Gurianov scored in the shootout to help clinch the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Western Conference Quarterfinal: Defeat Calgary Flames in 6 games

The Stars took on the Flames in a first-round series that seemed unpredictable to many. It wouldn’t have been surprising if the series went seven games with either team winning.

Dallas lost Game 1 3-2, but bounced back with a 5-4 win in Game 2. They fell behind in the series with a 2-0 loss in Game 3, but that was the last Calgary win in the bubble. The Stars won Game 4 in overtime after scoring with 12 seconds left (once again Pavelski was the hero to tie it) to tie up the series.

The Stars won a low-scoring Game 5, 2-1 to set up a chance to clinch in Game 6. It looked like the Flames would force a Game 7 after scoring three goals in less than three minutes early in the first period, Those were the final three goals the Flames scored, however, with the Stars using a five-goal second period to steamroll to a 7-3 win to take the series in six games.

Western Conference Semifinals Recap

Western Conference Semifinal: Defeat Colorado Avalanche in 7 games

The Stars went into the second round as huge underdogs against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche were one of the Stanley Cup favorites and favored to win the series at -225, with the Stars as +185 underdogs.

That didn’t faze the Stars, though.

The Stars jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, outscoring the Avalanche 10-5 in the first two games of the series. Colorado got back into it with a win in Game 3, but the Stars took a stranglehold on the series with a win in Game 4 to go up 3-1 in the series.

The Avalanche battled back, however. Ben Bishop returned to start Game 5 for the Stars, but the Avalanche didn’t give him a warm welcome back. They scored four goals, including three in less than two minutes, to chase Bishop and they took a 5-0 lead into the first intermission. They went on to win by a final score of 6-3 and won Game 6 with a 4-1 final score to force Game 7.

After blowing a 3-1 lead, it was now win or go home for both teams. 

Game 7 was a back-and-forth affair with Dallas taking a 1-0 lead, Colorado going up 2-1 before the end of the first period, and then the teams traded goals back and forth in regulation. The Avalanche actually pulled ahead late in the third period with just 3:40 left, but Joel Kiviranta was the Game 7 hero as he scored just 10 seconds later to tie the game. He then scored again in overtime to win the series for Dallas.

Western Conference Final: Defeat Vegas Golden Knights in 5 games

After taking down a big favorite in the Western Conference Semifinal, the Stars faced an even bigger favorite in the Western Conference Final. The Golden Knights were a -245 favorite, with the Stars at +205 to win the series. Dallas quickly made sportsbooks rethink that.

The Stars and Golden Knights traded shutouts in the first two games, with Dallas winning Game 1 1-0 and Vegas winning Game 2 3-0. That set the tone for a low-scoring series, and low-scoring games are what the Stars are made of.

Dallas won Game 3 in overtime, 3-2, then won Game 4 2-1, setting up a chance to take care of business in Game 5. After nearly blowing a 3-1 series lead against Colorado, they didn’t want to risk that again.

The Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit in Game 5 to score two third-period goals and then win the game in overtime.

The Dallas Stars are now in their first Stanley Cup Final since 2000 and are looking for their second Stanley Cup win in franchise history after winning it in 1999. 

Dallas Stars Stanley Cup Final Betting Preview

Dallas Stars players to watch in Stanley Cup Final

First and foremost, the Dallas Stars have their goaltender to thank for their playoff performance so far. No, not Ben Bishop; Anton Khudobin. The backup-turned-starter had a great regular season and has been carrying the Stars in the playoffs. 

Khudobin is 11-6-0 with a shutout, .918 save percentage, and 2.67 goals against average in the postseason. He stopped 153 of 161 shots (.950 SV%) with a 4-1 record against the Golden Knights. He would likely win the Conn Smythe if the Stars win the Stanley Cup.

Joe Pavelski has had a few key goals for the Stars throughout the playoffs and leads Dallas with nine goals in 20 postseason games. He is just ahead of Denis Gurianov and Alexander Radulov, who each have eight postseason goals. Radulov has had a few clutch goals as well with four game-winners. 

Jamie Benn is right behind them with seven goals, but has 10 assists for 17 points, the second-most on the team.

The Stars’ leading scorer in the playoffs is actually a defenseman. Miro Hieskanen has 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 20 games.

Stanley Cup outlook: Don’t count out Dallas

After taking down the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, two teams that were heavy favorites, the Stars are likely to be underdogs again in the Stanley Cup Final, assuming the Tampa Bay Lightning finish off the New York Islanders.

The Stars have been able to frustrate their high-flying opposition into playing low-event hockey, resulting in low-scoring games. If they can play their game and keep things up, they’ll be a great Cinderella story to win it all.

NHL Round Robin Odds, Stanley Cup Odds: How Hot Can the Flyers Get?

By: Ryan Gilbert 

Flyers Odds Breakdown: NHL Round Robin Odds, Stanley Cup Odds

The Philadelphia Flyers are returning to the postseason in their first year under a new regime. They earned one of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference thanks to their strong play throughout the season, but especially in the second half. They were the hottest team in the league in February and March and are looking to carry that over to the round-robin tournament and all the way to the Stanley Cup. 

The Flyers come into the round-robin tournament as the No. 4 seed, with nowhere to go but up. They don’t have the best chance to win the top seed, but It may be worth a look. 

Philadelphia Flyers’ Odds to Win the No. 1 seed: +550

The Flyers are tied with the Washington Capitals for the third-best (or worst) odds to win the No. 1 seed, behind the Boston Bruins (+140) and Tampa Bay Lightning (+185). Odds of +550 give the Flyers an implied probability of 15.4% to win the No. 1 seed. With those odds, I’d say it is worth betting on. 

The Flyers played well against the Bruins and Capitals in the regular season, going a combined 5-1-1 against them (3-0-1 against the Capitals; 2-1-0 against the Bruins). However, they lost both of their games to the Lightning. If the Flyers can repeat their success against the Bruins and Capitals, and either sneak in a win against the Lightning or hope that the Lightning lose to the Capitals and/or Bruins, they’ll take home the No. 1 seed. 

I would recommend betting on the Flyers to win the No. 1 seed at +550. 

But that’s not all. 

Philadelphia Flyers’ Odds to Win the Eastern Conference: +550

The Flyers are also tied with the Capitals at +550 as the third-best odds to win the East, behind the Bruins and Lightning at +300 each.  

This could be the year for the Flyers. Alain Vigneault came in and took this team to the next level in the regular season, earning him a Jack Adams Award nomination. Sean Couturier is a finalist for the Selke Trophy as well. Carter Hart has been as good as advertised in goal for the Flyers, and their depth allows them to roll four strong lines and three good defensive pairs. 

Having the same odds to win the No. 1 seed and Eastern Conference is, well, odd. I would rather bet on the No. 1 seed, but they have a decent chance of winning the East too. 

Philadelphia Flyers Stanley Cup Odds: +1000

Once again Flyers are tied with the Capitals (and St. Louis Blues) with the fifth-best odds to win the Stanley Cup, behind the Bruins (+650), Lightning (+650), Vegas Golden Knights (+800), and Colorado Avalanche (+900). 

Given the Flyers’ odds to win the East at +550, and to win the Cup at +1000, I would rather bet on the Flyers to win the Cup then perhaps hedge the bet depending on the matchup. 

NHL Play-in, Stanley Cup odds: Islanders May End Up Stranded

By: Ryan Gilbert 

NHL Play-in, Stanley Cup odds: Islanders May End Up Stranded

The New York Islanders are back in the playoffs, and they’re looking to make some noise. 

The Islanders will face the Florida Panthers in the qualifying round of the NHL playoffs. The qualifying round is a best-of-five series against the Panthers to make the “official” 16-team playoffs, rather than this year’s unique 24-team setup. 

It was a rough second half for the Islanders, who lost their final seven games in the regular season and won just two of their last 13 games of the season. They were hampered by injuries, and it was hurting their playoff chances. Now, however, they just need to win three games against the Panthers to get into the playoffs. 

The Islanders are the favorites in the series against the Panthers, but their Stanley Cup odds and Eastern Conference odds tell the story of an underdog looking to upset some teams on the road to the Cup. 

New York Islanders’ Odds vs. Florida Panthers

New York Islanders’ Odds vs. Florida Panthers: -122 

New York played Florida three times in the regular season, and the Islanders won all three times.  

They played early on in the year with the Islanders winning 3-2 in a shootout on October 12th. Less than a month later, the Islanders once again took down the Panthers in a one-goal game by a final score of 2-1. Their third and final meeting of the season was another low-scoring affair, this time in Florida. The Islanders came away with the road win by a 3-1 score. 

The Islanders seem to have the Panthers’ number, and the two teams are headed in different directions. The Islanders are recovering from some injuries and coming into the playoffs as a full unit. On the other hand, the Panthers were sellers at the trade deadline and may not be up to task. 

You still can’t count the Panthers out, though, due to their star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. 

If Bobrovsky is on, it could be a frustrating series for the Islanders. If he’s not, the Islanders could win it in three or four games. If you want to take a risk you could bet on the Islanders -1.5 games for +190. If you have a strong feeling that the Islanders could sweep, you could make a pretty penny at +575 for the Islanders to win the series 3-0. 

Unfortunately for the Islanders, they don’t appear to be built for a long playoff run. 

New York Islanders’ Odds to Win the Eastern Conference

New York Islanders’ Odds to Win the Eastern Conference: +2000 

Of the 12 Eastern Conference teams in the qualifying round, the Islanders are tied for the fifth-worst odds at +2000.  

The Islanders may be able to get past the Panthers, but that will likely be their last series victory. 

While they are getting a few players back, they still had an under .500 record (13-16-8) from December 17th until the end of the season after a 22-7-2 start. 

They could win one more if they get hot, but there isn’t enough there to bet on them to win the Eastern Conference or Stanley Cup. 

New York Islanders’ Stanley Cup odds: +4300 

In the 24-team playoffs, the Islanders are tied for the 17th-longest odds to win the Stanley Cup.  

If you’re a believer, you can cash in at +4300, but I wouldn’t recommend it. 

2020 Stanley Cup Odds: Rangers Must Weather Storm as Underdogs

By: Ryan Gilbert 

2020 Stanley Cup Odds: Rangers Must Weather Storm as Underdogs 

The 2020 NHL season is close to resuming with 24 teams in the qualifying round and round-robin tournament. One of the 16 teams playing in the qualifying round is the New York Rangers. 

The Rangers are one of the teams that were outside looking in when the regular season was suspended in March. They had recently lost Chris Kreider and were no longer on the hot streak that carried them toward playoff position. They were falling fast, and then the season came to an abrupt halt. 

With the unique return to play format, the Rangers will have a decent chance at making the playoffs after the qualifying round. They must win a best-of-five series against the Carolina Hurricanes, and while they are the underdog in the series, they can’t be counted out. 

New York Rangers’ odds vs. Carolina Hurricanes: +110 

The Rangers are slight underdogs to take down the Hurricanes in the qualifying round. The Hurricanes are the favorites at -135, but there is room for the Rangers to sneak in and beat them. 

In fact, the Rangers maybe should be the favorites in the series. If it goes anything like the regular-season series, the Rangers will prevail as the underdogs. The Rangers went undefeated in four games against the Hurricanes in the regular season, outscoring Carolina 17-9 in the four games – including a 5-3 win in December and 5-2 win in late February. 

The Rangers seem to have the Hurricanes’ number this season, which makes them a pretty good value bet a +110 in the series.  

If you want to get a bit risky, you could bet on the Rangers to sweep the Hurricanes at odds of +750, or to win the series 3-1 at odds of +400. Hell, even the Rangers to win in five games is +435. 

If they do get past the Hurricanes, could they make some noise in the playoffs? 

New York Rangers’ odds to win Eastern Conference: +2000

The Rangers have a good chance to get past the Hurricanes, but that might be where their journey ends. Despite a 12-3-0 run from late January through late February, they haven’t fared very well against the top teams in the conference. 

They went 0-2-1 against the Bruins, 1-1 against the Lightning (including a 9-3 loss), and 0-3 against the Flyers (including back-to-back losses on February 28th and March 1st). 

The Rangers have the fourth-worst odds to win the Eastern Conference, and for good reason. 

 New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup Odds: +4300 

If you want to bet on the Rangers, I highly recommend betting on them to win the first round – perhaps even to sweep. Beyond that, the Stanley Cup odds of +4300 provide better value than just +2000 to win the East. If the Rangers make it out of the Eastern Conference, they’ll be hot enough to take down whoever comes out of the West.

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NHL Play-in, Stanley Cup Odds: Columbus Blue Jackets Face Uphill Battle

By: Ryan Gilbert 

NHL Play-in Stanley Cup Odds: Columbus Blue Jackets Face Uphill Battle  

The 2020 NHL playoffs may be resuming soon, and there are 24 teams vying to bring home the Stanley Cup. Eight of those teams will receive a “bye” in a qualifying play-in round, but 16 teams will have to win a best-of-five series to advance to the official first round of the playoffs. 

One of those 16 teams is the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets are the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference, which means that they will match up against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the play-in round. Columbus’ odds in the play-in round – as well as their odds to win the Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup – show the uphill battle that they will have. 

Blue Jackets’ Play-in Round Odds vs. Toronto: +140

For the Blue Jackets to even get into the first round of the official playoffs, they’ll have to overcome a tough Toronto Maple Leafs team. 

The Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs each had 81 points in 70 games this season, but Toronto had three more wins (36) than Columbus (33). The Blue Jackets relied on getting a single point in an overtime loss 15 times this season in order to inflate their point total. 

The Blue Jackets peaked early on and were on a huge slide prior to the season being suspended. From February 8th until their final game on March 8th, the Blue Jackets went just 3-6-6. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs went 8-6-2 from February 7th until the end of the season. Sure, Toronto “only” won half of their games, but Columbus struggled winning just one fifth of their games. 

Columbus did an impressive job of staying competitive despite their offseason losses this season. Even with superstar forward Artemi Panarin and two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky leaving in the summer, the Blue Jackets still found success with very little offensive firepower. 

On the other hand, the Maple Leafs have tons of scoring up front with four players – Auston Matthews (80), Mitch Marner (67), John Tavares (60), and William Nylander (59) – recording more points than Columbus’ leader – Pierre-Luc Dubois (49). 

If both teams are fully healthy, Toronto has the clear upper hand. However, if the Blue Jackets do get past the Maple Leafs, do they have a chance of winning the Cup, or at least reaching the Stanley Cup Final? 

Blue Jackets’ Odds to Win Eastern Conference: +3200

The Blue Jackets have the 11th longest odds (out of 12 teams) to win the Eastern Conference. They face a stacked conference boasting the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers. Even if the Blue Jackets beat Toronto, they’ll likely have to beat at least one or two of those teams to win the East. 

Blue Jackets Stanley Cup odds: +6500 

It doesn’t get much better for Columbus here. Out of 24 teams, they have the 22nd longest odds to win the Stanley Cup. It would definitely be a Cinderella story, but I can’t advise to bet on the Blue Jackets to win anything past the play-in round. 

The Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Odds as the NHL Restart

By: Ryan Gilbert 

The Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Odds as the NHL Restarts

If the NHL season resumes, it will do so in a format that has never been seen before. 24 teams are currently eligible to win the Stanley Cup: eight teams that have clinched a spot in the playoffs, and 16 teams that must win a best-of-five play-in series in the “qualifying round.” Luckily, the Boston Bruins are not one of those 16 teams. 

Thanks to a stellar regular season, the Bruins are one of the eight teams – four in each conference – that will instead play in a round-robin tournament to determine the top four seeds. The Bruins will face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round.  

The Bruins should end up with the top seed, but a lackluster set of round-robin games puts them in danger of falling to the third or fourth slot, which could hurt them in later rounds. 

Bruins’ odds to win the Eastern Conference: +300

The Boston Bruins are looking for their second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final. After a heartbreaking Game 7 loss last year to the St. Louis Blues, they are once again poised for a run to the Cup. 

The Bruins are co-favorites to win the Eastern Conference, along with one of their round-robin foes: the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins and Lightning have been towards the top of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference not only this season, but in most recent years, so this should come as little surprise. 

The Bruins absolutely should be the favorites, as they were undoubtedly the best team in the NHL this season. They had the most wins (44) and points (100), while losing just 14 times in regulation – six less than the second-best total in the Eastern Conference. 

Boston’s odds aren’t very favorable, however, as a +300 bet has some risk in it. If they are to lose in the playoffs, it will likely be to an Eastern Conference opponent. However, there may be a bet worth making. 

Bruins’ odds to win the Stanley Cup: +650

If you want to bet on the Bruins this postseason, take a look at their odds to win it all. They are still co-favorites with the Lightning, but the Bruins have a much better team with more experience. 

The Bruins have one of the best lines in the league – if not the best – with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. The trio totalled 107 goals this season, with Pastnrak leading the way (48 goals and 47 assists for 95 points).  

They have solid depth as well with David Krejci, Charlie Coyle, and deadline addition Ondrej Kase raring to go. 

Not only do they have some of the best forwards in the league, they also have the best goaltender tandem. Tuukka Rask (26-8-6, .929 save percentage, 2.12 goals against average) was great as their starter, and Jaroslav Halak (18-6-6, .919 SV%, 2.39 GAA) was pretty darn good as the backup. If Rask falters in the playoffs, they know they can rely on Halak. 

If that isn’t enough to convince you, the Bruins went 20-6-1 since January 7th, and 15-4-0 since the All-Star Break (January 31st). They are the best bet to win the Stanley Cup.