Hockey Predictions: NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Props Odds and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 4/11/2013
Probably no major sportsbook emphasizes hockey more than Bovada, which probably isn't surprising considering it's based out of Canada. The site releases NHL special props each week, and this week there are some playoff and division winning odds that I'd like to look at.
There are around nine games left in the regular season for each club. Entering Thursday, the Sharks have the most remaining with 10, while the Jets, Ducks and Predators have the fewest with seven. Nashville almost certainly will miss the postseason, while Anaheim is a lock to get in. The only question left for the Ducks is if they can catch Chicago for the West's top seed. The Blackhawks have a five-point lead and two games in hand, although Anaheim has had the Hawks' number this season.
The Jets are one of the teams with a playoff prop: “Yes” Winnipeg will make it is +150 with “no” at -200. Should the Jets do so, it could give Canada five teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That hasn't happened since the 2003-04 season. Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto will be in. Ottawa is currently in but fading fast. It would be quite a story if the Jets were to make it in just their second year back in Winnipeg. The franchise made the postseason only once while in Atlanta and was swept by the Rangers in that one series in 2007. Winnipeg enters Thursday alone at No. 9 in the East, two points behind the No. 6 Senators, No. 7 Islanders and No. 8 Rangers, all with 44 points. But all three have at least a game in hand. The key for the Jets will be for sure to win their next four, all at home: Panthers, Lightning, Hurricanes and Islanders. That's very doable. Winnipeg then closes with games at Buffalo and Washington and home vs. Montreal. A win in Buffalo also is very doable, but I doubt in Washington. The Habs might have nothing to play for on the final day of the season. I'd roll the dice on yes here.
The Islanders are -500 to make the playoffs and +300 to miss out. Probably no team outside of Toronto has been more mismanaged the past five-plus years or so than the Isles, who will be headed to Brooklyn in a couple of years. New York hasn't made the postseason since 2006-07 and hasn't won a series since 1993. I say no here because of a killer schedule. The Isles visited Boston on Thursday and then are home against the Rangers and Panthers. They better win those because the final five are on the road. Wait, maybe that's a good thing: The Isles are 11-5-2 away from home. Still, that's a lot to ask.
What would the Stanley Cup Playoffs be without the Red Wings? Arguably the NHL's marquee franchise (it's called “Hockeytown” for a reason) has made the postseason every year since the 1990-91 season. The last two NHL Lockouts had teams like Detroit in mind because the Wings could outspend most every other team. No longer, and that and age are catching up to the Wings. Detroit is -175 to make the playoffs and +125 not to. It enters Thursday at No. 8 and a point ahead of Phoenix, but with a game in hand on the Coyotes. After hosting the Sharks on Thursday, Detroit has a make-or-break four-game road trip to Chicago, Nashville, Calgary and Vancouver. If the Wings can get through that with something like five points, they should be in good shape with three of their final four at home. I say the Wings do make it. Too much pride there.
The Coyotes are +300 to make it and -500 to miss, and I simply don't see that happening. Phoenix can't score and was a seller at the Trade Deadline. Ditto for Dallas, which has the same odds as Phoenix. The Stars gave up on this season when they dealt leading scorer Jaromir Jagr to Boston. Take no on the Coyotes and Stars.
Meanwhile, this is the final season of three divisions in each conference with realignment on the way in 2013-14. I'm not even sure that most teams raise a division banner these days, because it really doesn't mean a whole lot. The only benefit is it assures a team no worse than the No. 3 seed in the playoffs (it's No. 4 in the NBA). So, for example, the Southeast-leading Capitals would be the No. 3 in the East if the playoffs started today even though they have 11 fewer points than Montreal, which is second in the Northeast. It's rather unfair in this case because the Southeast Division is wretched and the Northeast very deep, but it is what it is.
Boston has a one-point lead over the Habs and is a -140 favorite for the Northeast, with Montreal at “even”. Both teams have 39 games left. They don't face one another the rest of the way and the Canadiens hold the head-to-head tiebreaker via a 3-1 series edge. The schedule hugely favors Boston with just three road games left and one of those at plummeting Carolina. Montreal, meanwhile, has only three left at home and has to visit Toronto twice and Pittsburgh once. Now that the Bruins have Jagr, they should pull away and win it.
The site also offers odds on the Northwest Division between Vancouver (-500) and Minnesota (+350). The Canucks are a lock. They are surging, lead by six points and just got Ryan Kesler back from missing 20 games due to injury. Minnesota is slumping and lost top winger Dany Heatley for the season.
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