The NHL Playoffs are about to begin, and after an unusual year with divided conferences and a shortened season, teams are ready to roll. The top two favorites come from the West, with Colorado and Vegas as favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Out of the East/North Conference, Toronto and Carolina are the front two. Odds may vary across sportsbooks, but I will be looking at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Heavy Favorites
Vegas and Colorado as the top teams in the Western division. Vegas had another successful season as one of the top-scoring teams in the league and also allowed the fewest goals per game. Colorado isn’t far behind and was dominant at home this season, going 20-4-2. The Avalanche and Golden Knights are rolling into the playoffs riding a hot stretch. Colorado comes in at +450, and Vegas is at +550. Given they will be the top two seeds within the playoffs, they would go through each other at the end.
Toronto has been red hot of late and is +600. Auston Matthews leads this team and is one of the top scorers in the league. The Maple Leafs have made strides to get back to the playoffs over the last few years but have made some early exits. A deep playoff run would be ideal, but the expectations will be far higher. Carolina might be the surprise team here to the casual fans, but they are a strong and fundamental team that can rotate four lines with ease.
Lightning, Bruins, Penguins
We are used to the Eastern Conference giants being at the top of the odds table, and they are not too far behind. Tampa Bay is +800 and a very good value with how deep their team is. They usually have been the team to beat but are flying under the radar a bit and now are fully healthy. Boston so far has gotten a good return on the Taylor Hall trade, but they have been on and off in the second half of the season. A lot will ride on the defense and Tuukka Rask stepping up. Boston at +1000 is another good value given the top line they have and veteran presence to know what it takes. As for Pittsburgh, this team is pretty deep, but consistency has been an issue. Hard to doubt a pairing of Crosby and Malkin, but they will need others to step up if they want to make a run at +1300.
Looking at some of the more offensive teams like Edmonton or Winnipeg is intriguing. Connor McDavid is good enough to win a round himself, and then we can see what happens. However, the defense is an issue for both sides, and they will go through a deep conference and top teams right off the bat. The Jets are also limping into the playoffs, and a matchup against Toronto would be brutal. The Islanders are another team to watch out for as they are a deep team that can make a run. Florida will have to take on Tampa, and while they are playing very well heading in, it will be a tall task to win multiple rounds.