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How to Bet On Hockey - Betting the NHL Playoffs

The NHL’s second season is underway with the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The top eight teams from both the Eastern and Western Conference are set to battle it out through four rounds of best-of-seven series to determine this season’s champion. The basic game of hockey does not change in the postseason, but they way it is played does. Each win or loss can mean the difference between an early exit and added momentum for an extended run.

Betting NHL Stanley Cup Series Prices at Online Sportsbooks

The simple fact that the same two teams are facing off against one another in subsequent games adds a much higher level of familiarity to the mix. Coupled with the results from the regular season and past playoff matchups, this higher level of familiarity lends itself to a higher level of predictability when it comes to betting on the games. The NHL playoffs can be broken down into three simple concepts:

Past Playoff Success or Failure

There any number of examples of teams that lit up the regular season only to flame out in the postseason. The Tampa Bay Lightning lit up the NHL season like no other team in recent memory this year. They finished the 82-game regular season schedule with 128 total points and 62 wins which were dangerously close to matching long-standing NHL records. They are the clear favorites to win the East as well as this year’s Stanley Cup to add even more pressure to their lofty expectations in this year’s playoffs.

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Tampa Bay is clearly the best team in the NHL on paper and the 2019 Stanley Cup Title could be thought of as its to lose. This could go either way after losing to the Washington Capitals in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals in seven games as the top seed. That could act as the necessary motivation to take that next step or as a grim reminder that you are only as good as you are playing at this present moment.

The San Jose Sharks have been to the playoffs in 13 of their last 14 seasons. During that same span, they have been to just one Stanley Cup Final against eight exits in the opening two rounds. The St. Louis Blues missed the playoffs last season for the first time in seven seasons. In six previous trips to the postseason, they only got past the second round once, losing in the Western Conference Finals in 2016. Washington was the most notorious flame out in the playoffs before breaking through last season with a Stanley Cup title run.

Recent Betting Trends

Recent betting trends are a small part of the equation when it comes to handicapping any matchup. However, as previously mentioned there is a heightened sense of familiarity between the teams, especially in the opening round.

Valley Sports - Handicapping the Hockey Puck Line

Tampa Bay, out of the Atlantic Division will be playing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round as a crossover team from the Metro Division. Familiarity is less of an issue, but the Lightning do bring a five-game winning streak over Columbus into this series. San Jose will square off against the Vegas Golden Knights in a Pacific Division tilt. The past history between these two teams is rather limited since this is Vegas’s second year in the league. However, the underdog has won four of the last five meetings.

Hot Goalies

When you have the best teams in the league squaring off against one another in the postseason, a hot goalie can make all the difference in the world. The past few seasons prove the point. Back in 2017, goalie Pekka Rinne carried Nashville all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals with Nashville coming into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the Central Division. Last year, veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was a big reason why Vegas won the Western Conference title as an expansion team.