Betting the NHL Playoffs: Important Tips and Strategies

The 2022-23 National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs began last month and are now well underway. The second round is about to get underway, so let’s look at betting the NHL Playoffs.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are arguably the best and most intense action in all of sports. Players battle through bumps and bruises, even major injuries, for a chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup at the end of the two-month grind to win a championship.

Betting the NHL Playoffs – Markets, Strategies & Winning Tips

Betting NHL playoff games is a little different than placing wagers on NHL regular season games.

There’s a lot more on the line for the players and games are typically lower scoring. They are also called tighter by the referees – although that is another topic of its own through the first few weeks of this year’s playoffs.

Hockey betting markets increase in variety this time of year, giving even more wagering opportunities. Sportsbooks know even more fans are watching the games and want all the action they can get before the slow summer months hit.

Let’s take a look at some of the types of bets you can make for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As well as some important things to consider when placing single-game wagers while betting the NHL Playoffs.

Types of Stanley Cup Playoffs Bets

Types of Stanley Cup Playoffs Bets

Stanley Cup Odds

While you can wager on the Stanley Cup winner at the start of the season, the picture becomes more clear at the start of the playoffs. After the regular season, just 16 teams are able to win the greatest trophy in all of sports. Odds are constantly updated and adjusted based on how well teams are playing. On April 25, when they had a 3-1 series lead over the Florida Panthers, the Boston Bruins odds lowered to +270. Florida, conversely, had +10000 odds to win the Stanley Cup. We now know how that played out with the Panthers upsetting the Bruins in 7 games.

Boston, which also had the shortest odds to win the Cup for most of the season, was looking to become the second team in as many years to win as betting favorites – Colorado won last year. However, the President’s Cup winner (first place in the regular season) hasn’t won the Stanley Cup in a decade, and that statement reigns true.

Series Correct Score – Betting the NHL Playoffs

You can also wager on the exact series outcome at most sportsbooks when betting the NHL Playoffs. For instance, when Boston went up 3-1, the Bruins to win in five games had -235 odds. Boston to win in Game 7 paid out +850, while Florida to win in Game 7 paid out +1600.

Most Points in Series

Some sportsbooks accept bets for most points in a single series. You can make these bets at the start of or at any point during the series. These markets are what separates betting the NHL Playoffs from any other time.

Conn Smythe Winner

The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded to the MVP of the playoffs.

Favorites are constantly changing based on the performance of each player and their respective team. Bruins’ forward David Pastrnak, for example, was the +550 favorite through the first week of play in the first round.

Tips For Betting the NHL Playoffs

NHL Playoffs betting tips

Home Ice is a Major Advantage

Playing at home is an advantage for teams in every sport, but there’s no advantage like home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Crowds are louder and more engaged, and players feed off of that energy. In the 2021-22 playoffs, home teams had a combined record of 51-26.

The home team is almost always favored in the playoffs. However, simply betting the home team on the moneyline isn’t always a good option. It’s best to follow each series closely and look for good opportunities where a road team may be able to steal a game.

Momentum Doesn’t Carry Over When Betting the NHL Playoffs

A lot of people talk about the importance of momentum in a series. But it’s simply just not relevant in hockey. It might exist during the regular season when teams play many different teams and can gain confidence on long winning streaks. But the playoffs are a different beast.

Don’t expect a team to be dominant the entire series just because they won the first game in convincing fashion. Don’t put your blinders on when betting the NHL Playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, for instance, embarrassed the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on home ice in Game 1 of their first-round series in 2023. Of course, the Maple Leafs responded with a 7-2 victory the following night. Don’t even consider the prior game when making playoff bets.

There is, however, such a thing as in-game momentum. This is where it can be beneficial to make in-game bets. It’s a good time to bet the trailing team when you notice they’re applying pressure and controlling the play.

Special Teams Are Especially Important

If there’s one thing you should keep an eye on when betting the NHL Playoffs it’s special teams.

While there has seemingly been a lot of penalties called in this year’s playoffs, referees are typically a little more reluctant to make game-changing calls in the playoffs. There’s usually fewer power-play opportunities, and those teams that are able to capitalize are the ones that have more success.

In the same sense, the ability to kill penalties is particularly important.

Colorado won the Stanley Cup in 2022 and, unsurprisingly, led all teams with a 32.8 percent success rate on the power-play. They also had the fourth-best penalty kill among teams that made it out of the first round. Tampa Bay had the third-best power play and fourth-best penalty kill when they won the Stanley Cup in 2021.

Goaltenders Can Steal a Series

Goaltending can be just as, if not more, important than special teams. In fact, a good goaltender can be the reason a team’s penalty kill is so successful.

It’s not often teams with the worst goaltender will win a series. And it’s even more rare for teams without elite goaltending to win the Stanley Cup.

Betting the NHL Playoffs – Expect Close Games = Puck Line

As unpredictable as the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be, one thing you can expect is close games every night. What does this mean for betting? Picking the underdog in puck line betting is a great option as there’s a lot of games either decided in overtime or end in a one-goal differential. 

Through one week of action in the 2023 playoffs, there have already been 10 games decided in overtime and 13 decided by one goal.

About the Author
Joe Berra
Joe Berra
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Joe takes care of the bits and pieces that sometimes slip through the cracks of the sports world. Efficiency and consistency is what makes different. JB helps keep Sports Hub’s content fresh and exciting, managing its many authors. From the New York area, Joe knew he had a knack for sports betting when his uncle was always asking him which side he was on as a young boy. His meticulous approach to the numbers formed his career path as a professional handicapper. Joe is sometimes called Jimmy Bagpipes, JB or Mr. B.