The NHL is bringing some great ideas for the playoffs

Since the NHL went on suspension back on March 12 – which in case you were wondering, was along time ago – there have been numerous potential playoff formats thrown out. As, of course, the NHL paused its season, like the world did – with obvious concerns over the Coronavirus.
Which have brought out lots of responses on what was going to happen, well it looks as if the NHL playoffs are coming, albeit they will not be holding a normal postseason – and they have gotten some interesting changes and are very creative. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a top 24 team playoff format – which will feature the top 12 teams in each conference based off each team’s record at the time the league was put on hold.

The NHL has created a modified playoff format in which 24 of the teams will return to the ice – playing for the Stanley Cup at 2 different “hub” cities. Each Conference will have their own “hub” city with their own arena for the teams to play. There is going to be a qualifying round with a round robin “play in” round – which will then roll into the 1st round for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Using this unique opportunity to get creative with their playoff format, and going forward with a season, that many thought could have been lost – opens the door for a lot of neat things happening, and getting a satisfying ending to get a Stanley Cup champion for the season.

The NHL had played roughly 85% of the regular season, that started back in early October, so the vast majority of the season was over – and they don’t want to go too deep into the summer or fall. I don’t think they would want to run against other sports trying to get themselves organized – they want eyes peeled for their sport. The biggest advantage teams like St. Louis and Boston will have – is that they were a top 4 team at the time of the pause, and they will not have to play in the play in rounds. But the teams that were looking at squeaking in and on the cusp essentially have to earn their spots, it might be a strange and weird look this season – but the situation we have been dealt this year has been more than weird, as well.

The seeding and playoffs will look like this;
The top 4 seeds in each conference automatically advance to the traditional 16 team playoff structure, so the top teams are in, no concerns for the best of the best.
The top 25% of the teams.
Giving them a bye from the qualifier round – but those teams will then play each other once to seed the order of the top 4 for the playoffs.
Ok, thats fun.

Then we have the other teams – seeds 5 through 12.
They will need to play their way in – through the qualifying round, which is a best of 5 format.
Having a qualifying round – is basically giving teams that were still trying to fight for a playoff spot – a chance to make up ground that they may have made up throughout the rest of the regular season.
The winners of those games, then advance to the 1st round of the playoffs.
This sounds great to me.
It brings toughness, grit, and excitement, all things I want from my hockey.

So let’s take an early look at what we are going to see when the NHL returns to the ice.

In HUB 1 –
In the Round Robin seeding in 1st round
1. Boston Bruins ( 100pts)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning ( 92pts)
3. Washington Capitals ( 90pts)
4. Philadelphia Flyers ( 89pts)

HUB 1 – The best of 5 Qualifying round
#5 Pittsburgh Penguins ( 86pts) vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens ( 71pts)
#6 Carolina Hurricanes ( 81pts) vs. #11 New York Rangers ( 79pts)
#7 New York Islanders ( 80pts) vs. #10 Florida Panthers ( 78pts)
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs ( 81pts) vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets ( 81pts)

In HUB 2 –
In the Round Robin seeding in 1st round
1. St. Louis Blues ( 94pts)
2. Colorado Avalanche ( 92pts)
3. Vegas Golden Knights ( 86pts)
4. Dallas Stars ( 82pts)

HUB 2 – The best of 5 Qualifying round
#5 Edmonton Oilers ( 83pts) vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks ( 72pts)
#6 Nashville Predators ( 78pts) vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes ( 74pts)
#7 Vancouver Canucks ( 78pts) vs. #10 Minnesota Wild ( 77pts)
#8 Calgary Flames ( 79pts) vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets ( 80pts)

In the return – a playoff series between the blazing centers of the Oilers vs an aging, tough, veteran goalie Corey Crawford, and a team that can make plays like Toronto vs a Columbus team, that has struggled to close games out, sounds pretty darn great to me.
Who chokes?
Who plays bigger than life and carries their teams?
Let’s get this show on the road!

NHL Finals Updated Betting Odds

It is no big surprise that the two best teams in this season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs have battled each other to a 2-2 series tie through the first four games of this year’s NHL Finals. The series is down to a best-of-three clash starting on Thursday night with Game 5.

The Boston Bruins drew first blood with a 4-2 victory in Game 1 as -165 home favorites. The St. Louis countered with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2 as a +150 road underdog. The series shifted to St. Louis for the next two games and Boston regained the edge in impressive fashion with a 7-2 pounding as an even-money +100 underdog. The Blues quickly regrouped for Monday’s Game 4 at home with a 4-2 victory as -115 favorites.

Stanley Cup Final’s Preview and Predictions – St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins

The total has gone OVER in three of the first four games. Boston has averaged 3.43 goals per game through 21 postseason games and it has scored at least four goals in seven of its last 11 contests. The Blues have tallied 68 goals in 23 playoff games for an average of 2.96 goals a game.

NHL Finals Updated Betting Odds

The Bruins are listed as -155 home favorites for Thursday’s slated 8 p.m. start on NBC and the total line for Game 5 has been set at 5.5 goals. Betting this game on the puck line, you can get Boston -1.5 at +175 with the Blues +1.5 set at -210.

The betting consensus heading into Thursday night’s game leans towards Boston at 62 percent. The public also favors the OVER at a higher 68 percent. The way this series has played out so far, betting Boston appears to be the best way to go. Given that the Bruins have won each of their games by two goals or more, the puck line at +175 becomes an attractive play. If you do bet in that direction, a parlay with the OVER might make sense.

America’s Bookie is that all American sports book that sports bettors love.

The betting prop for a score by either team in the first 10 minutes of play in Game 5 favors YES at -130 odds. The betting odds that neither team will score in the first 10 minutes are set at an even money +100. St. Louis scored seven minutes into Game 1 at Boston and each team tallied a goal in fewer than 10 minutes in Game 2.

The more interesting betting options deal with the updated series price odds. This bet has been a roller-coaster ride given the alternating wins through the first four games. Boston remains the favorite to win the series at -160 odds with St. Louis now listed as a +135 underdog.

If this series follows suit through the full seven games, betting Boston now makes the most sense since that number will go way up with a win on Thursday. A Blues’ loss would bump their number up quite a bit as well. This could be a great value bet depending on your confidence in their ability to win the final two games. Anything can happen in a Game 7 showdown, so the reward would be worth the risk.

10 Star Picks – Betting Hockey Props – NHL Playoffs

Betting the exact series result, the best odds on the board are +200 for Boston in seven games. The odds St. Louis wins in seven are the longest of the four possible choices at +330. Once again, if you believe the Blues can win this series, the higher odds on seven games offers the best value.

Best Stanley Cup Odds | Stanley Cup Betting Odds & LIVE Lines

The odds that Boston wins the next two games to take the series in six are set at +220. The odds that St. Louis gets the win on the road Thursday night and closes things out at home in Game 6 on Sunday are set at +300.

NHL Scoring Trends

 

I know football trumps all when it comes to sportsbetting, both in the college ranks and the National Football League; it’s just the way it is, and most likely always will be. However, those top handicappers looking at wagering on hockey have liked what they’ve seen so far this season. Let me tell you why.

 

First off all, scoring has been off the charts so far this NHL season, and online bettors backing the OVER have been reaping the rewards. The Pittsburgh Penguins finished last season with the most goals scored per game at 3.39, 0.18 more than Minnesota, who finished second with 3.21. Only seven teams finished the 2016-17 season with 3 goals per game or above.

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While it’s true we are only a quarter the way through the 2017-18 season, at this point we have 15 teams that are averaging 3 goals or more per game. Of those 15, six of them are averaging above the 3.39 the Penguins finished with to lead the league last season. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning are lighting the lamp at an unreal pace, at 3.95 goals per game.

 

If we go back a few years and see where the leaders finished really shows just how impressive this stat is. In 2015-16, Dallas lead the league with 3.23, Tampa Bay with 3.16 the year before, Anaheim with 3.21 in 2013-14, Pittsburgh at 3.38 and 3.33 in 2012-13 and 2011-12, respectively.

 

Related  : Using Top Handicappers before placing your wagers

 

If you want to look at the other end of the spectrum, the Buffalo Sabres are scoring the least this year, averaging 2.29 goals per game, with the Colorado Avalanche finishing the 2016-17 season scoring at a 2.01 goals per game clip.

 

But let’s look at the number 2.59. Last season, eleven teams scored 2.59 goals per game or less. Only 5 teams have averaged less than 2.59 goals per game. What this shows is that not only are the top NHL teams scoring more goals, but so are the bottom feeders in the offensive categories.

 

So what is causing this increase in scoring? Baseball blamed the massive number of homeruns this season on a new ball, one that was stitched tighter, giving a greater exit velocity and in turn making it travel farther. But did the NHL bring in a new puck? Don’t think so.

 

One thing the increase in goal scoring has in common with the increase in homeruns are the advances in physical fitness, helping make the professional athletes bigger and stronger all while shortening their recovery period. All these factors are leading to better numbers across the board.

 

How has this actually translated when it comes to betting on the total in the National Hockey League this year? We have to remember that NHL Bookmakers are very quick to catch on to the trends and are even quicker to adjust. As of last week, we have seen 69 totals of 6 goals. What does this matter you ask? That number has already surpassed the total number of six goals totals of any season over the past six years.

 

Overall, the OVER is 324-282-24 (numbers from vegasinsider.com) with Colorado the best OVER bet at 14-4-1, followed by Vegas, Tampa and the New York Islanders. The best UNDER teams are San Jose, Anaheim and Columbus.

Although scoring is way up, you still need to do your research and pick your spots. The tips and advice are out there to help you on your way, but if the scoring trend continues, look for the OVER to pad your sports betting account.

By Joe Berra