NHL Stanley Cup Futures Odds and Betting Predictions

The NHL regular season resumes play this week after taking the last two weeks off for this year’s Winter Olympics. There is bound to be some rust for all 30 teams in their first few games back, but there are a few that are well-positioned for a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs, especially in terms of some of BetOnline’s future odds for the NHL.

Division Futures

The Boston Bruins get back to work this Wednesday night with a road game against Buffalo. They went into the break with a seven-point lead over Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division with 78 points and a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have the most points in the Eastern Conference (83), and they are leading the Metro Division by a comfortable 16 points over the New York Rangers. They closed things out before the break with a 4-1-1 record in their last six games.

BetOnline has not even listed odds for these two division races, and I concur by conceding those titles to the Bruins and the Penguins.

The battle for the two division titles in the Western Conference is a whole other story. The St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks are tied in the Central Division with 84 points, with the Blues having three extra games in hand. The Blues have been listed as -155 favorites to go on and win the division title, with Chicago listed at +125 odds to claim the title. Given the difference in these odds between two very closely-matched teams, the value has to go to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks.

The Anaheim Ducks have carved out a seven-point lead over the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division despite going just 5-5 in their last 10 games. The disturbing part of this current run is three straight losses at home, where the Ducks had been so dominant all season long. They are still favored to win the division at -400, and I like their chances to get it done, but this is another situation where you might want to roll the dice with a small play on the underdog with San Jose listed at +250.

Conference Futures

The Penguins are +195 favorites to win the Eastern Conference, with Boston listed at +300. Things drop off rather quickly from there with the Tampa Bay Lightning listed as +900 third-favorites. Pittsburgh and Boston are tied as far as scoring with an average of 3.1 goals per game, but Boston does have a slight edge in goals-against average at 2.1 verses 2.4 for Pittsburgh.

Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask is ranked fifth in the NHL with a GAA of 2.11 and fourth in save percentage at .928. The Penguins’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury comes in with a 2.23 GAA that is the 10th-lowest total in the league and a save percentage of .919. Since defense wins championships, especially with a hot goalie, the slight edge in value goes to Boston.

The odds to win the West have four primary contenders, starting with Chicago at +275 followed closely by St. Louis at +300, Anaheim at +350 and San Jose at +450. The Los Angeles Kings are also worth mentioning at +800 given that they are just two years removed from a dramatic run all the way to a Stanley Cup title.

When it comes to scoring goals, Chicago is the best of the bunch with a goals per game average of 3.37, but the advantage over St. Louis (3.32) and Anaheim (3.23) is negligible. San Jose is ranked fifth in the conference (2.81), and Los Angeles is bringing up the rear (2.25).

When it comes to stopping goals, the Kings pull a worst to first with a GAA of 2.10 behind a couple of solid goaltenders. Next on the list are the Blues and the Sharks at 2.32 followed by Anaheim (2.38) and Chicago (2.58).

Looking back at the current odds to win the conference, my pick to win the West from strictly a value standpoint would have to be the Ducks at +350.

Stanley Cup Futures

If we go on the assumption that my picks in each conference are correct, then it would be a matchup between Boston and Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Finals. BetOnline would tend to disagree, considering that Pittsburgh is the favorite to win it all at +400 and St. Louis is the second-favorite at +550.

The odds that the Bruins win their second title in four years are +650, and the odds that Anaheim wins its second title in franchise history are +700. We already know how each of these teams break down in terms of scoring and defense, so it comes down to the intangibles as to where the value lies.

Looking at the current point totals for both teams, I am going to predict that Anaheim will have the home-ice advantage in this seven-game series. Despite recent form, the Ducks are a formidable foe playing at home, especially in light of a 20-0-2 record in their first 22 games at the Honda Center this year. One of those victories was a 5-2 win over Boston on Jan. 7, and their last victory this season will be a Game 7 win over Boston sometime in June.

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