The NHL is Back! Playoff Schedule, Betting Odds and the Favorites

For almost two months now, hockey fans have been sitting on pins and needles awaiting the NHL’s return. On May 25, it was announced that the league would be restarting its season, and on August 1 teams will return jumping directly into the playoffs. Let’s go through everything that surrounds the NHL's return to play. 

American sportsbooks in general have three favorites leading up to the playoffs, with each boasting nearly identical odds.

Starting with the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Games will all take place in two hub cities, and other important highlights

  • There will be 24 teams in the 2019/20 playoffs, 12 from each conference

  • The seven teams who did not make the playoffs will end their season early

  • Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto, Western Conference in Edmonton

  • The top four teams in each conference are determined by average number of goals scored this season

  • These top four teams will play a series between them to determine seeding in the playoffs, starting on August 2;

  • The remaining 16 teams will face off in five-game series, starting on August 1;

  • The eight teams that make it through the playoffs, and the top eight seeded teams will play one game knockout series until the Stanley Cup winner is determined

NHL teams will play friendly games starting on July 29. This is a necessary way for teams to get back into shape after the break.

The Main Favorites: 2019/20 Stanley Cup Playoffs

There has been a lot that has changed since the NHL went on hiatus on March 12. The playoff format, venues, injuries, etc. All of this has influenced the balance of power between the remaining teams that we have today. Let’s get acquainted with the favored seven teams for the Stanley Cup 2020, according to the odds given by US sportsbooks. 

Much has changed since the suspension of the NHL regular season (March 12). Playoff format, venue, injured hockey players, etc. - all this influenced the balance of power before the restart of the NHL. Let's get acquainted with the seven main contenders for the Stanley Cup 2020, as well as the odds from different sportsbooks for the eventual champions.

2020 Stanley Cup Winning Odds

Tampa Bay+650+650+650
St. Louis+1000+800+1000
Las Vegas+800+600+800

With complete regards to sports betting, we take notice of a couple odds changes from before and after the quarantine took hold. Let’s note a few points:

  • Tampa Bay and Boston are both quoted with equal chances throughout sportsbooks, however before the break Tampa was looked upon more favorably than Boston (+550 vs. +650)

  • Odds for Washington to win have rocketed upwards (from +700 to +1150). Apparently, sportsbooks have lost some faith in Alexander Ovechkin and Todd Reirden’s team. 

  • The odds for the Colorado Avalanche also rose from +600 to +800. Though the young team will likely not let its peers opinions change the exciting game it plays. 

  • Pittsburgh was one of the main favorites before the quarantine (+700), but since then barely climbed into the top seven teams, even then not appearing in all sportsbooks. 

Stanley Cup Play-off Round

It's unusual to say the least to begin with the playoffs right after a long break. However, this is where the best teams will adjust quickly and find success. The NHL teams that are unlucky enough to be in the top four of their conferences will play a knockout game. This will prove incredibly difficult, as these teams have had little to no time to prepare. Either way, the playoffs will commence so let's get acquainted with the top teams. 

Eastern Conference 

We start with the teams that will be taking the ice first.

  • New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes

This series will feature two Russian stars going head-to-head, with the Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov taking on the Rangers’ Artemi Panarin. These two players have quickly become the leaders of their respective teams this season. Panarin is currently in the top 15 for both goals and assists, ranking third in the latter category with 63.

The series will start on August 1st starting at 12:00 p.m. EST. 

  • New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers

For the Islanders, the forced quarantine could not have come at a better time. The team had lost seven games in a row and were on its way out of the top eight teams. Now, the team has a clear-cut chance to get into the playoffs. The big factor for the Islanders will be how well goalie Semyon Varlamov will perform. The guy between the pipes has performed above average this season, however has been quite far away from being labeled as elite. 

The series will start on August 1st starting at 4:00 p.m. EST. 

  • Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadians

Despite the massive recent success that Pittsburgh has seen in recent seasons, the team very well may become the dark horse in the playoffs. Head Coach Mike Sullivan had a long list of unavailable players before the quarantine, though that list is now noticabely shorter. With Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang ready to go, the team should at the very least beat Montreal. 

The series will start on August 1st starting at 8:00 p.m. EST. 

  • Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

The most evenly matched dispute in the Eastern Conference will take place between Toronto and Columbus. Throughout the season, the teams were in a constant battle to find themselves in a playoff spot, and now they both know that only one can advance. Toronto will have the advantage of playing in its home city, though without fans it will be interesting to see how much this helps. Columbus however, has consistently proven a very difficult matchup come playoff time, so this series will likely not be quickly decided. 

The series will start on August 2nd at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Western Conference

  • Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks

The Western Conference teams will all be heading to Edmonton to play their games, which will give the Oilers the same advantage that the Maple Leafs are afforded. Chicago has had the better success in this matchup this season, beating the Oilers twice already, so the Oilers are definitely  not a 100% certainty to slide by in this series. 

The series will start on August 1st at 3:00 p.m. EST.

  • Calgary Flames vs. Winnipeg Jets

The biggest takeaway from this series is which of the two teams will actually capture a playoff spot after close and average seasons for both. Calgary finished eighth place in the standings with Winnipeg at ninth, separated by only one game. The American winger Kyle Connor has had a remarkable season, finishing seventh in goals scored putting him ahead of mega names such as Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid. 

The series will start on August 1st starting at 10:30 p.m. EST. 

  • Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes

Arizona is another team very fortunate for the quarantine, as without it they would have been hardly able to find a playoff spot. The team now has its chance, although, judging by the odds given US sportsbooks are placing minimal faith in the team getting past Nashville. 

The series will start on August 2nd at 2:00 p.m. EST. 

  • Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild

One of the closest series matchups, sportsbooks are having a difficult time deciding on which team will advance. Vancouver has been consistent and holds a higher place in the standings, however the Wild have played such attractive hockey before the quarantine that the teams will now go head-to-head for a playoff spot. 

The series will start on August 2nd at 10:30 p.m. EST.

NHL Round Robin Playoffs

Meanwhile, the top four teams from each conference will be playing a Round Robin tournament. The system is simple: each team will play once against the others in its conference, according to the results of all matches, the seed for the playoffs will be distributed, and, accordingly, the opponent in the first round of the postseason. 

Eastern Conference

Let's get acquainted with the field for the Round Robin in the East and the odds sportsbooks are giving teams for winning the conference.

According to the schedule, the Eastern Conference Round Robin will end on August 9th.

Western Conference

The Western Conference also holds some great matchups waiting for us in the top spots. Colorado has been a consistent force with both Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog heading the front line. St. Louis will look for help from Vladimir Tarasenko who had a difficult injury before the quarantine, but looks ready to play for the series. 

The Western Conference Games of the Robin Round will also end on August 9.

Everything will be fine, we have hockey, my friends!