2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Breaking Down the Gambling Odds for the Cup

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Breaking Down the Gambling Odds for the Cup

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    Steve Nesius/Associated Press

    It's the most wonderful time of the year.

    Or at least one of them.

    The NHL schedule is winding into its final three weeks, which means divisional playoff races are taking shape and fanbases in several cities are still harboring hopes of a celebratory lap with the Stanley Cup.

    Of course, given current positioning in late-April standings, some hopes make more sense than others.

    The fine folks at DraftKings released odds to win a championship for every team still with a mathematical possibility of making the playoffs heading into Tuesday night's games. Twenty-six of the league's 31 teams are included—leaving fans in Anaheim, Buffalo, Columbus, Detroit and New Jersey on the outside looking in.

    Predictably, the B/R hockey squad needed no cajoling to take a look at that information and divvy it up into segments identifying just how fleeting or intense the champagne-sipping aspirations ought to be.

    Take a look at what we came up with and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Mathematical Life Support: Kings, Canucks, Blackhawks, Sharks, Flyers, Senators

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Six teams remained mathematically alive for the Stanley Cup heading into Tuesday night, though there were two or even three teams between them and the last available playoff berths in their divisions.

    So the moment of flatlining is certainly near.

    But if you've got $100 to toss into a fireplace on their behalf anyway, let it burn.


    Los Angeles Kings, 7th in West (+12500)

    The future is bright at Staples Center, as the Kings have stocked the roster with draft picks and high-profile prospects. The Kings got off to a respectable start, but a 4-8 stretch in April all but ended things. 


    Vancouver Canucks, 6th in North (+12500)

    The Canucks have won three of five in April after missing the better part of a month due to COVID-19 issues. They're still 10 points out of fourth place but with five games in hand over the Montreal Canadiens.


    Chicago Blackhawks, 6th in Central (+15000)

    The Blackhawks were among the qualifying-round winners last season, stunning the Edmonton Oilers in four games. They're still among the league's surprises this season, but are probably out of gas.


    San Jose Sharks, 6th in West (+15000)

    There's only a five-point gap between the Sharks and the fourth-place St. Louis Blues, but the momentum is heading in the distinctly wrong direction. San Jose has just two wins in its past 10 games.


    Philadelphia Flyers, 6th in East (+45000)

    It's been a long, long fall for the top seed in last season's Eastern Conference bracket. The goaltending has gone from a strength to a weakness and there are too many other solid teams in the division.


    Ottawa Senators, 7th in North (+500000)

    Oh sure, the Senators could catch Canadian lightning in a bottle and pay out a cool half-million for a $100 investment. But a Cup run would require 16 wins and they've only won 18 games all season.

First-Round Fodder: Stars, Predators, Coyotes, Rangers, Flames

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Is the smart money backing these teams to make a run? Certainly not.

    But given that they're each sitting no more than six points from a playoff spot, their prospects are a tangible step up from the aforementioned teams looking up at them.

    Teams on the fringes of the playoff bracket do occasionally advance. But no, we wouldn't hold our breath.


    Dallas Stars, 5th in Central (+3500)

    If you're buying stock in a team now sitting outside of playoff qualification, the Stars are a bargain. Stanley Cup finalists a season ago, they're getting hot (7-1-2 in their past 10) at just the right time.


    Nashville Predators, 4th in Central (+4500)

    They're two points ahead of the Stars in the Central, but the Predators have cooled a bit since a run that got them back in the mix at the trade deadline. Still, either they or Dallas will be a tough first-round out.  


    Arizona Coyotes, 5th in West (+7500)

    Where Dallas is getting hot at the right time, Arizona has gone stone cold. The Coyotes have won just two of their past 10 games to fall a point back of the St. Louis Blues in the West and it looks like a fatal standings blow.


    New York Rangers, 5th in East (+8000)

    If only they could be somewhere else. The Rangers and their 56 points would be in fourth place in each of the other three divisions, but they sit four back of a hot Boston Bruins team in the East. Maybe next year. 


    Calgary Flames, 5th in North (+8500)

    While the Rangers wish they could change divisions, the Flames simply wish they had more games against the fourth-place Canadiens. Calgary won six of nine against Montreal, but still faces a six-point deficit.

Dynamic Dark Horses: Wild, Oilers, Jets, Canadiens, Blues

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Unless disaster strikes in the final three weeks, these teams will be in the tournament. But just how far they'll go depends on some things that are difficult to forecast.

    Each of the quintet has some degree of star power or playoff pedigree or goaltending prowess, which means any is capable of winning two series and winding up in the league's final four—and perhaps beyond.

    Pick the right one and it'll mean some nice profit potential. 


    Minnesota Wild, 3rd in West (+1900)

    The Wild have been banging heads with the elite, namely the Golden Knights and Avalanche, for the entire regular season out West. They're 7-7 in 14 games against Vegas and Colorado, so who knows?


    Edmonton Oilers, 2nd in North (+2100)

    There's not a team in the NHL that can boast the star power of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and the Oilers are 25-10-2 since a 3-6 start. If goalie Mike Smith stays solid in the playoffs, look out North.


    Winnipeg Jets, 3rd in North (+2200)

    A month ago, the Jets were a darling dark horse. But losing forward Nikolaj Ehlers for the rest of the season didn't help matters and a 6-1 loss to Edmonton on Monday left a bad taste.


    Montreal Canadiens, 4th in North (+2300)

    Seems like a while since the Canadiens were at the top of the power rankings mountain, eh? These days, they're simply hoping to hold off charging foes. If they get in, they'll need goalie Carey Price healthy.


    St. Louis Blues, 4th in West (+3000)

    The Blues do have the muscle memory of winning the Stanley Cup in 2019. But even if they hold off Arizona to get in the playoffs they're staring straight at Vegas, who've beaten them in four of six games.

Second-Tier Standouts: Penguins, Capitals, Bruins, Islanders, Panthers

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Not everyone can live on the top floor.

    But that doesn't mean those folks a level or two below the penthouse aren't capable of crowding the elevator or taking the stairs to get a peek at the view.

    Though just one of the five teams in the group was atop a division heading into Tuesday night, it wouldn't be a remarkable surprise to see any of them advance through their division, win two subsequent series and start considering the logistics of a championship parade through downtown. 


    Pittsburgh Penguins, 1st in East (+1200)

    Few are as hot as the Penguins, who've picked up 17 standings points in their past 10 games. Sidney Crosby is a legend and the goaltending is coming around enough to make Pittsburgh a dangerous foe. 


    Washington Capitals, 2nd in East (+1200)

    It helps to have stars, and who's a bigger star than Alex Ovechkin? The Russian ace has scored 24 times and helped the Caps to the most goals in the league. Their 17-7-2 road record is the NHL's best, too.


    Boston Bruins, 4th in East (+1300)

    Welcome to the fold, Taylor Hall. The first overall pick from 2010 is settling in nicely with his fifth team, scoring three goals and six points in his first eight games. Incidentally, Boston is 6-2 in those eight games.


    New York Islanders, 3rd in East (+1700)

    The Islanders were the surprise of last year's playoffs, but they won't sneak up on anyone in 2020-21. New York has allowed the third-fewest number of goals in the NHL and have more offense this time.


    Florida Panthers, 2nd in Central (+1800)

    Raise your hand if you thought the Panthers, after the exits of scoring forwards Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov, would be neck-deep in the Central race in late April. The first-round matchup is crucial.

Best of the Best: Avalanche, Golden Knights, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    And now, we present the stars of our show: Three division leaders, the team sitting third in the overall points-percentage standings and the defending Stanley Cup champions.

    A pretty imposing group, to be sure.

    But while it makes sense that they're the favorites when it comes to Stanley Cup odds, there's no guarantee all the things that went well from January to April will continue that way into late spring and summer.


    Colorado Avalanche, 2nd in West (+400)

    The most frequently-offered pick when it came to forecasting the Cup champs before the season, red-hot Colorado is 8-3 in April and will face first-place Vegas twice in the final 10 games coming down the stretch.


    Vegas Golden Knights, 1st in West (+600)

    The best team in the overall standings, Vegas has won nine in a row and 10 of 13 this month. The team finishing first in the West will avoid Minnesota in the first round, which is a huge motivation.   


    Tampa Bay Lightning, 3rd in Central (+750)

    The defending Stanley Cup champs know the way to the promised land. The question: Will they be healthy enough to travel it? They've won eight of 14 in April but will need to level things up to get a repeat.


    Toronto Maple Leafs, 1st in North (+800)

    OK, Canada, hold your breath. The Maple Leafs have spent most of the season atop the North Division and seemed at times to be a lock for the final four, but a recent five-game skid has prompted some shudders.


    Carolina Hurricanes, 1st in Central (+900)

    Perhaps the most under-appreciated team in the NHL this season, the Hurricanes boast quality goaltending, good defense and timely scoring. If they can escape a top-heavy Central Division, look out for high winds.