How to Bet on the Stanley Cup Playoffs – NHL Playoffs Betting Explained

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The NHL postseason runs from April 22nd and could end as late as June 24th. With up to two months’ worth of hockey coming at you, it pays to know how to bet on the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Will someone unseat the 2023 champion Vegas Golden Knights? Will an unexpected franchise go on a run like the LA Kings in 2012? The playoffs always bring an elite level of entertainment and betting opportunities. Let’s dive in and find out how you could make the most of them.

Stanley Cup betting
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How To Bet On The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

At the end of this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to properly place a hockey wager. Before we get to that though, it’s vital to understand how betting betting odds work.

Over/under lines, puck lines, and moneylines. Every NHL game has hundreds of betting options and we cover the basics in the next section. Before that, a quick look at Stanley Cup playoffs betting.

Until the regular season concludes, “futures” bets are the only wagers available on the Stanley Cup and the playoffs. This is because individual playoff matchups are not yet known.

NHL futures markets let you bet on who will win the Stanley Cup as well as conference champions. If you want a bet before the puck drops on the first playoff game, futures are the best bet around.

How To Read Stanley Cup Odds

Now it’s time to cover the basics of betting on an individual hockey game. Whether it’s a playoff or regular season game.

In the game at the top of the below screenshot between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, the first column, the puck line, is what is commonly called the point spread in other sports.

BetOnline NHL Bets

The second column is the moneyline, a bet on which team will win regardless of the winning margin.

The third column, the total, is a bet on the number of goals scored – over 6 or under 6 – in the game.

If you bet Toronto in the first column, you receive a 1.5-goal advantage – you could win the bet even if the Leafs lose by one goal. For that option, however, you would need to risk $210 to win $100 (thus, the -210 number).

On the other hand, you could place your confidence in a big win by Boston – by more than 1.5 goals, and receive plus-180 odds (+180). That means you would risk $100 to take back $280 (a net profit of $180).

Other wagers available include the number of goals each team will score and betting options for the first period only.

NHL Playoffs Betting Strategy

For those who closely follow the hockey season, betting advantages can be found when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.

For those who don’t, it’s important to do your research and settle on a betting strategy that gives you the best chance of winning. This could be as simple as researching team and player form to help find an edge. The NHL stats page has a great stats database and other sites like Hockey Reference provide even more detail.

Staying up to date with trends and injury updates can also bring success when betting on the Stanley Cup playoffs. You might discover a “bad” team is not all that bad when a certain player plays, or a “good” team is overly dependent on one or two stars. Opportunities like these are what we look for every time we bet on hockey and betting on the playoffs is no different.

Here are three more Stanley Cup playoffs betting tips:

Be aware of the home-ice impact

Having the home-game edge in the NHL playoffs isn’t so important as it is in other major sports. In hockey, the road team frequently is able to bounce back if it fails to win Game 1 of any given series.

Look at the prices if the home team wins Game 1, and consider backing the road team to win Game 2.

Exploit first-round mismatches

The Stanley Cup playoffs can bring a top-heavy set of teams competing for the NHL title, and sports bettors willing to lay some juice can gain the benefit.

The three or four best teams in the playoffs face the three or four worst teams, and, with 16 teams – eight in each conference – making the playoffs, there can be a big disparity in talent in the first round.

Because of this, the No. 1 seed will be a heavy favorite to win its first-round conference series, but might still be the best value bet. Look at those No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchups as well as the No. 2 vs. No. 7 series to find the best “chalk” play (betting on a favorite).

Look closely at goaltender trends

As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, be aware of the goalies. Success in the postseason frequently is determined by the play of goaltenders, who can ride a hot streak through a couple of playoff rounds.

In the 2012 playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings, the No. 8 (and last) Western Conference seed, rode a sizzling few weeks from goalie Jonathan Quick to take the Cup.

Quick posted a 16-4 record in the playoffs with a dazzling 1.41 goals-against average per game and a .946 saves percentage.

See how each team’s goalie performed in the days and weeks leading to the playoffs. A hot goalie can bring a nice payday if his streak carries over. Check your stats!

Stanley Cup Playoffs Upsets

Don’t believe for a minute that the “1” next to a playoff team means it will have success.

The lowest-seeded Eastern Conference playoff team last season, the Florida Panthers, made a remarkable run that undoubtedly cost thousands of chalk players a ton of money.

The Panthers began last season’s playoff run by knocking out the Boston Bruins — the winners of the Presidents Trophy for collecting the most points (135, a bit north of the Panthers’ 92 points) in the regular season — in overtime, in Game 7, in Boston!

Florida continued its unlikely journey by stopping the favored Toronto Maple Leafs, four games to one, winning Game 5 in overtime in Toronto, and then sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes in four games to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The Panthers’ luck finally ran out, as the Vegas Golden Knights turned back the upstarts in five games. Florida is far from alone when it comes to unlikely playoff performances.

The Los Angeles Kings did the Panthers one better, winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed, the last team to get in the playoffs from the West.

Last season’s top Western Conference team, Colorado, was also defeated in the first round by a No. 8 seed, the Seattle Kraken.

Heavy favorites to win their first-round series in 2024 had better be ready to play, and fans of the underdogs will be ready to back their long shots.

Stanley Cup Betting Trends

The Vegas Golden Knights won the championship last season; the Colorado Avalanche won the year before that. Both teams are legitimate contenders in 2024, and recent history tells us it’s not impossible to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. The Tampa Bay Lightning (2020 & 2021) and Pittsburgh Penguins (2016 & 2017) have both managed to do it in the last eight years.

But, before that, it was almost 20 years since a team managed to win two Cups in a row (Detroit Red Wings in 1997 & 1998). This overall trend, and the fact that the current Stanley Cup betting is extremely open suggests this season is likely to throw up a new winner.

Further confirming this, before the current season began, the previous finalists, Vegas and Florida, were not even among the top three on the odds board. Those places were filled by Colorado, Toronto, and Edmonton, all of whom maintain strong chances to lift the cup this June.

So, the long term trend goes against back-to-back winners, and the chance of a team making a run from the low seeds is ever present. Suffice to say it’s hard to find a winning bet based on Stanley Cup trends.

The best strategy, if there is one, could be to study the form of teams as the playoffs get closer and use this as the basis for your betting. Finding winners based on trends from a year or more ago doesn’t look like a great strategy.

Stanley Cup Betting Odds

Here is a list of BetOnline’s top 10 contenders to win the Stanley Cup as of March 7, 2024:

Team Odds
Florida Panthers +750
Edmonton Oilers +800
Carolina Hurricanes +900
Colorado Avalanche +900
Boston Bruins +950
Dallas Stars +950
New York Rangers +1000
Vancouver Canucks +1100
Toronto Maple Leafs +1200
Winnipeg Jets +1200
Vegas Golden Knights +1600
Los Angeles Kings +2000

How to place a bet on the Stanley Cup playoffs

Once you're comfortable with strategies and bet types, it's time to sign up with an online sportsbook and start betting on the NHL. Our top pick is BetOnline.

  1. Head to the BetOnline homepage and click on “Join” in the top right corner. It’s in the same position on the desktop and mobile site.
  2. Create an Account and Verify your Identity

    It’s best to verify your account straight away as this will mean withdrawals are processed faster when it comes time to make them.
    Create an Account and Verify your Identity
  3. Make a Deposit

    You can use credit or debit cards but often the best payment method is crypto for its speed and fee-free withdrawals.
    Make a Deposit
  4. Place your NHL and Stanley Cup Bets

    Navigate to the NHL page via the menu on the left and place your bets.
    Place your NHL and Stanley Cup Bets

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References

  1. NHL Stats Page (NHL)
  2. Hockey Reference (Hockey Reference)
Jay Dieffenbach
Sports Betting Expert
Jay Dieffenbach
Sports Betting Expert

Jay is a Sports Betting Writer at Techopedia.com, and has been working in US sports for more than 20 years. He's worked for Daily Racing Form, the Arizona Republic, The Athletic and FanDuel among other sports and gambling positions.