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NHL Playoff Standings 2021: Top Seeds, Odds Update and Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 30, 2021

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Jake Guentzel (59) celebrates his overtime goal with left wing Jared McCann (19) and defenseman John Marino (6) during an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Washington. The Penguins won 5-4. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

More than half of the NHL playoff qualifiers have been decided.

Although nine of the 16 franchises are locked into the field, the order in which they will be seeded has not been determined.

The top three teams in the East, Central and West Divisions are separated by six points or fewer. The North Division is the only one with a significant gap between the top two.

The seed order across the four divisions will be soon settled. The last scheduled regular-season game involving American teams is May 13. The Canadian teams are scheduled to conclude the campaign May 19 because of the Vancouver Canucks' extended absence related to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Entering Friday, the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, the top two teams in the West Division, carry the best Stanley Cup odds.

Since only one of those teams can reach the Stanley Cup semifinals because of the divisional playoff format, there is value among the squads beneath them on the odds chart.

                  

NHL Standings

East Division

1. Washington: 69 points

2. Pittsburgh: 69 

3. New York Islanders: 65

4. Boston: 64

5. New York Rangers: 58 

           

Central Division

1. Carolina: 73

2. Florida: 71

3. Tampa Bay: 70

4. Nashville: 56

5. Dallas: 54

6. Chicago: 50

             

North Division

1. Toronto: 69 

2. Edmonton: 60 

3. Winnipeg: 57

4. Montreal: 51 

5. Calgary: 47

6. Ottawa: 42

7. Vancouver: 41

           

West Division

1. Vegas: 72

2. Colorado: 66

3. Minnesota: 66

4. St. Louis: 52

5. Arizona: 47

6. San Jose: 45

7. Los Angeles: 42

             

Stanley Cup Odds

Colorado: +450 (bet $100 to win $450)

Vegas: +500

Tampa Bay: +750

Toronto: +750

Carolina: +900

Washington: +1100

Pittsburgh: +1200

Boston: +1300

New York Islanders: +1700

Florida: +1800

Minnesota: +1900

Edmonton: +2000

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

              

Predictions

Vegas Secures Favorite Status from West Division

John Locher/Associated Press

The West Division could provide the best head-to-head matchup in the second round of the playoffs.

Colorado and Vegas have exchanged positions atop the West Division standings and on the Stanley Cup odds chart for most of the season.

Vegas' 10-game winning streak created six points of separation between itself and Colorado. That run narrowed the difference in Stanley Cup odds between the two sides. You still have betting value on the Golden Knights, but it has decreased from previous weeks, when they sat around +750.

Colorado only has one game in hand on Vegas, so the Knights have some wiggle room in the standings if they slip up during their final eight regular-season games. The two sides play May 10 at T-Mobile Arena, where Vegas is 19-4-2. Only the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins have more home victories.

Vegas is 3-1 on home ice against Colorado this season, and it limited the Avalanche to four goals in those victories. If the Golden Knights secure the No. 1 seed in the West, they could be a difficult team to oust from the playoffs, even if Nathan MacKinnon and Co. are firing on all cylinders in front of goal.

The Golden Knights also have three more road wins than the Avalanche and carry experience from their Stanley Cup Final run in 2017-18, which resulted in a defeat to the Washington Capitals.

If Vegas secures home-ice advantage, it could end up as the odds-on favorite to hoist the Stanley Cup before the playoffs begin.

                  

Pittsburgh Makes Surge Past Washington

Nick Wass/Associated Press

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins have won five of their past six games to pull level with the Washington Capitals in the East Division.

Pittsburgh has to keep winning to avoid a first-round meeting with Washington. It is four points in front of the third-place New York Islanders and five ahead of the Boston Bruins in fourth.

The Penguins beat Washington on the road Thursday and can earn another result on Saturday before embarking on an easy closing stretch. Four games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres are left on their schedule, and if they sweep those contests, they could beat out Washington for the top seed.

In addition to getting hot, the Penguins have the better goal differential than the Caps. Both teams have scored 175 goals, but Pittsburgh has conceded six fewer tallies.

In their past five games, the Penguins allowed more than three goals once—during Thursday's win over Washington. If Pittsburgh maintains its defensive form and continues to bang in goals, it could emerge as the top contender out of the East Division.

If their run impressed you enough, you can get the Penguins at +1200 to win the Stanley Cup, which may represent the best value of any potential division winner.

                 

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from NHL.com.

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