A Tampa Bay Lightning three-peat is possible but not likely for the 2022 NHL playoffs.
That’s the word coming from oddsmakers across the Ontario sports betting market as the quest for Lord Stanley begins Tuesday. Instead, operators have the Colorado Avalanche pinned as the consensus favourite.
PlayCanada looks at why and who to watch when the puck drops this postseason.
Stanley Cup odds: Tampa Bay strong, but three-peat unlikely
Tampa Bay is coming off back-to-back championships, a 51-23-8 (win-loss-OT) regular season, and its championship core is intact. Yet the Bolts aren’t considered the odds-on favourites:
- BetMGM Canada: 12.00 European odds, +1100 American (fifth-best odds)
- BetRivers Canada: 11.00, +1000 (fourth-best odds)
- Caesars: 12.00, +1100 (fifth-best odds)
- Proline: 12.00, +1100 (sixth-best odds)
Three-peating in any major sport is historically significant.
In hockey, that feat is amplified even further due to the physicality and season length (82-game schedule). It’s so hard that the New York Islanders were the last team to do it nearly 40 years ago.
So perhaps that can explain how such an experienced, decorated core can enter the postseason as potential ‘underdogs’ to win it all.
Oddsmaker: Leafs to put Lightning in a bottle? Sportsbooks say yes.
Interestingly enough, the NHL’s darling, Toronto Maple Leafs, will attempt to dethrone the two-time champs.
The series is the showcase matchup of Round One. Not all sportsbooks offer series betting now, but Caesars and Proline Plus are.
Toronto is favoured to win with both operators.
- Caesars Canada: Toronto win (1.76 European odds, -130 American), Lightning win (2.10, +110)
- Proline: Toronto win (1.73, -136), Lightning win (2.10, +110)
Leafs’ fans have been here before, though.
Despite being favoured numerous times, Toronto hasn’t made it out of the quarterfinals since 2004.
It will be interesting to see if the club can finally rally this postseason following a Hart Trophy-worthy year by Auston Matthews.
Avalanche score edge over Panthers as Stanley Cup favourites
Ranking above both the Leafs and Lightning are the Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Both claimed the best record in their respective conferences.
Colorado (119 regular-season points) is the consensus favourite:
- BetMGM: 4.25 European odds, +325 American (best odds)
- BetRivers: 4.00, +300 (best odds)
- Caesars: 4.30, +330 (best odds)
- Proline: 4.50, +350 (best odds)
Florida (122 points) isn’t too far behind though:
- BetMGM: 6.50 European odds, +550 American odds (second-best odds)
- BetRivers: 6.50, +550 (second-best odds)
- Caesars: 6.50, +550 (second-best odds)
- Proline: 5.00, +400 (second-best odds)
But bettors, beware: neither is exactly a postseason darling. Colorado’s nemesis has made the second round for three years now.
Meanwhile, Florida’s postseason benchmark is much lower. The Panthers haven’t made it out of the first round in over two decades.
Both are very talented and seem primed for a breakthrough, according to oddsmakers. The Carolina Hurricanes is another team to keep an eye on.
Calgary Flames bounce back following disappointing season to third-best odds
Out West, another squad is gaining the respect of sportsbooks.
That would be the Calgary Flames, which bounced back after missing last year’s postseason altogether. Calgary and the Dallas Stars will do battle beginning Tuesday.
Calgary won the season series 2-0-1 and has much greater aspirations this time around. The Flames have the third-best odds at multiple operators.
- BetMGM: 8.00 European odds, +700 American odds (third-best odds)
- BetRivers: 8.00, +700 American odds (third-best odds)
- Caesars: 8.50, +750 (third-best odds)
- Proline: 7.50, +650 (third-best odds)
Vancouver Canucks miss postseason amid massive line movement
Not all Canadian franchises were so lucky, however.
The Vancouver Canucks failed to make the playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven years this season. Ultimately an 8-15-2 start to the campaign and a mid-season coaching and front office change was too much to overcome.
In Vancouver’s 25-game opening stretch, the club had a 65.9% penalty kill.
That number was on track to be one of the worst in NHL history before the franchise picked it up late.
BetMGM gave the Canucks one of the most significant Stanley Cup line movements from its opening day +5000 to its closing odds at +25000.
But with players like Bo Horvat, Thatcher Demko and Elias Pettersson all having career years, Vancouver can hope to bounce back next season.
Historic NHL, BetMGM partnership spotlights playoffs
An exciting tidbit heading into the NHL playoffs will be BetMGM’s offerings.
Recently the iGaming giant signed Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid as its brand ambassador. The historic deal marked the first active professional athlete of the four major sports leagues to sign with a sportsbook.
Could BetMGM get creative in its offerings with a revamped and robust hockey menu for punters?
Thus far, the sportsbook has markets on:
- Stanley Cup champion
- Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoffs MVP)
- Winning Nation (USA 1.20 European odds, -500 American, Canada 4.75, +375)In the first round,
In the first round, McDavid and his Oilers take on the Los Angeles Kings. Perhaps more markets could develop as the games get juicier.
Historically the operator has left those options to bigger draws (i.e., football, basketball etc.).
The NHL playoffs start on May 2.