NHL Playoff Picture 2021: Latest Stanley Cup Bracket, Odds and Picks

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 25, 2021

NHL Playoff Picture 2021: Latest Stanley Cup Bracket, Odds and Picks

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    On three of the past four days, a West Division team has clinched its spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And they are the only three teams in the NHL that have already secured postseason berths this year.

    After the Vegas Golden Knights clinched a spot Wednesday and the Colorado Avalanche secured one Thursday, the Minnesota Wild ensured they will also be heading to the playoffs with a 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, their seventh consecutive victory. It marks the eighth time in nine seasons that Minnesota has reached the postseason.

    With the realigned divisions for the 2020-21 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the top four teams from each division (East, North, Central and West) will reach the playoffs and compose the 16-team field. That means there's only one spot still available out of the West, which is held by the Arizona Coyotes.

    As for the other three divisions, all four spots are still up for grabs, although some teams are getting close to clinching berths.

    Here's a look at the playoff picture and the latest Stanley Cup odds, followed by picks for the three teams that are most likely to be championship contenders this postseason.

Current Playoff Picture

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    East Division

    1. Washington Capitals (66 points)

    2. Pittsburgh Penguins (65)

    3. New York Islanders (63)

    4. Boston Bruins (60)


    North Division

    1. Toronto Maple Leafs (65)

    2. Winnipeg Jets (57)

    3. Edmonton Oilers (56)

    4. Montreal Canadiens (49)


    Central Division

    1. Carolina Hurricanes (68)

    2. Florida Panthers (67)

    3. Tampa Bay Lightning (64)

    4. Nashville Predators (54)


    West Division

    1. Vegas Golden Knights (70)

    2. Colorado Avalanche (66)

    3. Minnesota Wild (65)

    4. Arizona Coyotes (47)

Top Stanley Cup Odds

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    Steve Nesius/Associated Press

    Colorado Avalanche: +375 (bet $100 to win $375)

    Tampa Bay Lightning: +750

    Vegas Golden Knights: +750

    Toronto Maple Leafs: +800

    Carolina Hurricanes: +900

    Boston Bruins: +1100

    Washington Capitals: +1300

    Pittsburgh Penguins: +1400

    New York Islanders: +1600

    Florida Panthers: +1800

    Minnesota Wild: +1900

    Edmonton Oilers: +2100

    Winnipeg Jets: +2100

    Montreal Canadiens: +2200

    Dallas Stars: +3000

    Complete list of odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Vegas Golden Knights

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Since joining the NHL for the 2017-18 season, the Vegas Golden Knights have become a perennial postseason team and a consistent Stanley Cup contender. However, they have yet to win the championship. Perhaps that will change in their fourth consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Vegas leads the NHL with 70 points, and it's the hottest team in the league—it extended its winning streak to nine games with a 5-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. It ranks fourth in the NHL with 3.38 goals per game and first with 2.15 goals allowed per game.

    If the Golden Knights defense continues to be that stingy (including the play of goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner), then they are going to be difficult to beat in the postseason. And after reaching at least the Western Conference Final in two of their first three seasons, they know what it takes to have playoff success.

    It will be tough this year, as Vegas will likely have to face either Colorado or Minnesota in the second round (or potentially both over the first two rounds if it falls out of the No. 1 seed). But the Golden Knights are a good team to bet on to go all the way and to win their first Stanley Cup.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Peter Power/Associated Press

    The Maple Leafs have been a streaky team of late. After winning six games in a row earlier in April, they then lost five in succession. But they have rebounded with two straight victories, and they could be building some momentum toward the postseason.

    If Toronto can get hot at the right time, it has a chance to become the first team from Canada to win the Stanley Cup since 1993. And it has a lot to prove once it reaches the postseason.

    While the Maple Leafs are on their way to making the playoffs for the fifth straight year, they have lost six consecutive postseason series. That drought dates back to 2004, when it defeated the Ottawa Senators in a seven-game set in the opening round before falling in six games in the second round to the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Toronto has one of the top offensive players in the league in center Auston Matthews (who has an NHL-high 34 goals this season), which is one of the reasons it's averaging 3.29 goals per game (sixth-most in the NHL). This could be the year that the Maple Leafs return to having postseason success and make a run at the Stanley Cup.

Boston Bruins

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Currently in fourth in the East Division, the Boston Bruins are building momentum at the right time. And they could be on their way to the top of the standings, potentially setting them up for a deep postseason run.

    With the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders in the same division, the Bruins are going to be tested once they get to the playoffs. But Boston has won six of its past seven games, and six of its 10 remaining regular-season contests are against teams that are out of postseason spots.

    Boston is closing in on making the playoffs for the fifth year in a row, and it has numerous experienced players on its roster, including some who were on the team when it lost in the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. That veteran leadership should again be beneficial for the Bruins in the postseason.

    There are plenty of ways the playoffs could go for the East Division considering the talent of its top four. But Boston is a strong team to consider betting on at this point.


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