At long last, sports fans and bettors have post-season hockey back on the schedule, and fans are already eager to view the Stanley Cup odds.
In a statement issued on May 26, the National Hockey League (NHL) revealed its highly anticipated “Return to Play Plan”.
The league paused its regular season back on March 12 due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that the race for Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup will eventually occur:
“At the pause, we committed to resuming play only when appropriate and prudent.
We are hopeful the Return To Play Plan will allow us to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup in a manner in which the health and safety of our players, on-ice officials, team staff and associated individuals involved are paramount.
Accordingly, an essential component of the Plan is a rigorous, regular schedule of testing.
On the hockey side, the return-to-play format reflects the League’s extraordinary competitive balance while honoring the tradition and integrity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
At the pause, we committed to resuming play only when appropriate and prudent. We are hopeful the Return To Play Plan will allow us to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup in a manner in which the health and safety of our players, on-ice officials, team staff and associated individuals involved are paramount. Accordingly, an essential component of the Plan is a rigorous, regular schedule of testing. On the hockey side, the return-to-play format reflects the League’s extraordinary competitive balance while honoring the tradition and integrity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With the regular season now officially in the books, the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will take place later this summer – provided the pandemic doesn’t intensify. With that uncertainty in mind, the NHL is applying a “phased” approach to returning, with Phase 2 in early June allowing teams to return to their facility, and Phase 3 in the second half of July commencing an abbreviated training camp.
Even without a concrete timeline though, sportsbooks and bettors alike – who have been forced to get creative while coping with coronavirus cancellations – are rejoicing at the first news of pro sports returning.
24 Teams to Chase the 2020 Stanley Cup Title
The NHL also got creative in solving its postseason puzzle, starting with the league’s top 24 teams and using a “play-in” round to winnow the field to an official 16-team Playoff bracket.
The top four teams in each conference – the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers in the East, along with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Starts out West – will play a three-game “round robin” to determine their final seeding.
Meanwhile, the play-in round will pit the following teams against one another in a five-game series:
Eastern Conference Play-In Round
- #5 Pittsburgh Penguins (-200) vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens (+170)
- #6 Carolina Hurricanes (-150) vs. #11 New York Rangers (+130)
- #7 New York Islanders (-120) vs. #10 Florida Panthers (EVEN)
- #8 Toronto Maple Leafs (-160) vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets (+140)
Western Conference Play-In Round
- #5 Edmonton Oilers (-150) vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks (+130)
- #6 Nashville Predators (-135) vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes (+115)
- #7 Vancouver Canucks (-130) vs. #10 Minnesota Wild (+110)
- #8 Calgary Flames (-135) vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets (+115)
And as you can see in the parenthesis above, online sportsbook Bovada already has series prices posted for the play-in round:
Tampa Bay & Boston Turn League-High Wins to Title Favorite Status
Before the regular season was abruptly paused, the Bruins (44-26-12 / 100 points) and Lightning (43-27-6 / 92 points) were the class of the highly competitive Eastern Conference.
Accordingly, the bookmakers at Bovada have both teams ranked as slight (+650) co-favorites to hoist the Cup when it’s all said and done.
As for the Western Conference, the upstart Avalanche (42-28-8 / 92 points) and the Golden Knights (39-32-8 / 86 points) lead the way at (+700) and (+800), respectively. That comes despite the St. Louis Blues (42-29-10 / 94 points) reigning as defending Stanley Cup Champions and the West’s top team in 2020.
In terms of teams who didn’t quite make the cut when the season paused, but still get a chance thanks to the play-in round, the New York Rangers (37-33-5 / 79 points) have the best odds at (+3500).
To see where your favorite NHL team stacks up in the expanded 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs field, check out the full list of title odds below:
Winners: 2020 Stanley Cup Odds
|TEAM||ODDS (on 5/29/2020)|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+650|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+800|
|St. Louis Blues||+1200|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+1800|
|New York Rangers||+3500|
|New York Islanders||+4500|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+6600|