Interest in the NHL is always incredibly high across Canada, but it reaches a fever pitch once the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around. At stake is Lord Stanley’s Cup, and it takes an absolutely massive effort to earn the right to take a victory lap with it.
The NHL postseason lasts for about two months. That’s on top of a lengthy regular season, so the club that comes out on top will more than have earned it. The 16 best teams in the league get invited to the dance, but only one will have their name etched in history at its conclusion.
It has been a while since a Canadian team managed to nab the cup, but the Montreal Canadiens just had quite the postseason run before coming up short in the finals. Looking ahead, there’s a huge amount of talent across the nation’s teams.
Before too long, one of them could snatch the brass ring. While it may not seem possible, interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs is on track to grow even further. Legal single-game wagering is on tap in Canada. Operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel may be on the way to Ontario.
The NHL playoffs are incredibly exciting already, but they can be even better with more ways to wager on what’s going to happen. In advance of the Canadian sports landscape changing forever, here’s what you need to know about betting on the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Latest NHL betting odds
Whenever a pair of NHL teams are set to hit the ice, you can check out the pregame betting odds at legal sportsbooks. Top options include moneyline, puck line, and totals, all three of which will attract plenty of betting action.
You can also take a long-term view of the season as a whole via the futures market. In all cases, the odds are constantly shifting, but we make it a piece of cake to stay on top of the market via our customizable live odds feed.
NHL preseason and regular season
For an average NHL season, team camps will open up in early September. Each club will play some preseason games to warm up. While you can wager on these contests, uncertainty over playing time and what to expect out of rookies can make these matchups very unpredictable.
The regular season will usually get underway in October and wrap up in April. Along the way, each team will play 82 games with an equal number of 41 each at home and away. The standard breakdown of opponents for each squad works out like this:
- 28 games within same division
- 24 games within same conference
- 30 games against opposing conference
There are typically a few days off around Christmas, as well as the All-star break in February. Following that, the chase for the postseason has a tendency to intensify. While there’s plenty to love about the average NHL game, the intensity level always rises along with the stakes.
It’s a long season that’s often filled with twists and turns. The clubs that burst out of the gates may not necessarily be the strongest when the Stanley Cup playoffs roll around, while those that get off to slow starts can catch fire as the postseason approaches.
How the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs work
Since the 1979-80 NHL season, the league has held steady with 16 clubs qualifying for the postseason. However, there have been a few format changes over the years. In the early part of the era, the playoffs were division-based with the ultimate winners advancing to the conference finals.
Following that, the league took on a seeding arrangement based on the conference standings and worked through the playoffs from there. The most recent Stanley Cup playoffs following the 2020-21 campaign harkened back to the divisional format. Looking ahead, 16 teams should stick as the standard with the following on a round-by-round basis:
- First round: eight best-of-seven series with winners advancing
- Second round: four best-of-seven series with winners advancing
- Conference finals: two best-of-seven series
The winners of the two final sets advance to play for the Stanley Cup, which is also a best-of-seven affair. All told, a club needs to win 16 times for the honour of hoisting the cup. The Stanley Cup is widely considered to be the toughest trophy to earn in the world of professional sports. It’s pretty tough to argue against that assessment.
NHL betting lines explained
From opening night of the NHL regular season straight through to the last game of the Stanley Cup finals, you’ll have scores of opportunities to wager on NHL games. There are nights that are packed with choices, and others with just a handful of games to consider. When you visit an online or mobile sportsbook and click the NHL tab, you’ll see the odds for upcoming games.
|Moneyline||Puck Line||Total Points|
|Ottawa Senators||+180||+1.5 (-115)||Over 5.5 (-110)|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-200||-1.5 (+105)||Under 5.5 (-110)|
The standard listing calls for the home team on the bottom and road-side on top. Next to the two team names are the odds and lines for the three big pregame bet types: moneyline, puck line, and totals. Here are the key details on each of them:
NHL moneyline betting
The moneyline is a simple bet where you just have to make the call on which team you think will win the game. Moneyline betting odds are negative for favourites and positive for underdogs.
- Ottawa Senators +180
- Toronto Maple Leafs -200
If the numbers are close, oddsmakers expect a tight game. When the odds are far apart on the two sides, the game is projected as a mismatch on paper.
NHL puck line betting
The puck line is where the spread element comes in for NHL betting. The standard line is 1.5 goals, but sportsbooks will offer alternatives with adjusted odds.
- Ottawa Senators +1.5 (-115)
- Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5 (+105)
The choices are to go with the favourite minus the goals or to pick the underdog plus the number. The side you select has to cover the puck line in order to win the bet.
NHL totals betting
Also known as an over/under, totals betting is all about how many goals will be scored in the game. Sportsbooks set an estimated number for bettors to decide on.
- Over 5.5 (-110)
- Under 5.5 (-110)
NHL totals range from 5.0 on the low end to 6.5 on the high side. The amount of the total can be a solid indicator of what kind of game to expect.
Before you place your bets, be sure to take the time to shop around. There may be more favourable prices to be found at certain shops. For example, if DraftKings Sportsbook has the Leafs listed at odds of -200 for this game, the number could be -190 or less over at FanDuel or BetMGM online. These small ticks of difference can add up to a lot over the course of a season.
Our odds feed helps to make shopping the latest NHL lines really simple. You can also estimate the return on winning wagers just by looking at the odds. When the number is negative, that’s how much you have to bet to get back $100 – i.e. $110 at -110. If the odds are positive, the digits are equal to what you’ll see back on a $100 winner – i.e. $180 at -180.
For an additional wagering option, parlays are also available. Similar to the games offered by Ontario Lottery and Gaming, you make multiple selections on the same betting slip. If you’re right on all of them, you can make a nice score. However, a single wrong choice means that your parlay ticket is a loser.
NHL playoffs live betting & props
For additional options for betting on the Stanley Cup playoffs, be sure to check out what’s available for in-game and props. Live betting gets underway once the puck is dropped. Many operators have dedicated sections to be found on their platforms. As for props, just click through on the game listings to explore all of the available offerings.
Live betting is one of the fastest-growing segments of sports betting. It’s a very fast-paced style of wagering, and one that has proven to be quite popular with the masses. Examples of what you’ll find may include:
- Updated odds for the top pregame bets
- New player, team, and game props
- Bet on power plays, periods, and overtime
Once the game gets underway, just login on your mobile device and keep your eye on the available offerings from your sportsbook. When you see live betting odds that look appealing, you can get in on the action right away.
Props are additional ways to wager on the individual games. There will be bets on team performance and various game circumstances, as well as plenty of options for individual player wagers. Here are a few examples of what you might come across:
- How many total points for Mitch Marner – over/under 1.5?
- Which side will have more shots in the game – Senators or Canadiens?
- Will overtime be needed – yes/no?
The odds and exact offerings for prop wagers can vary by operator, so be sure to take the time to shop around. As a quick example, FanDuel Sportsbook Ontario may have some more appealing props on goal scorers, while DraftKings or BetMGM has better odds on another wager you’re interested in. If you take the time to shop, you can find what you want at odds that work best for you.
NHL futures market
You don’t have to wait for the postseason to make your guesses on how it all plays out. The NHL futures market even lets you get a little skin in the game on your predictions. These are season-long wagers which require a long-term view as the bets can’t be settled until the outcome is official. Top options to check out include:
- Odds to win Stanley Cup
- Conference and division winners
- Team regular season point or win totals
- Clubs to make or miss playoffs
- Individual player award-winners
- Season-long player props
The odds for the top markets, such as NHL playoff odds, will come out early in the offseason and stay active from there, while other options will emerge as the season draws near. The ultimate goal is to make the right call, but you’ll also want to try to get your selections at the best possible price. That makes line shopping a crucial step. Don’t forget to lean on our odds feed to do so.
Using the winner of the next Stanley Cup as an example, you’ll see Stanley Cup odds for all of the league’s teams upon release. The numbers for a handful of favourites at the top of the board might look like this:
- Colorado Avalanche +500
- Vegas Golden Knights +600
- Tampa Bay Lightning +700
- Toronto Maple Leafs +1200
The amount of the odds has a direct correlation to the payout you’ll see on winning calls. For example, if you think this is finally the year for the Toronto Maple Leafs to end the drought, a $100 wager on the Leafs at odds of +1200 will return a profit of $1,200 if they manage to do so. The NHL futures market offers up additional season-long rooting interest, as well as the chance for solid returns.
NHL Stanley Cup MVP odds
After the playoffs get underway, there will naturally be plenty of discussion about which teams look like they’re built to make a run for the cup. As the postseason winds down, the question of which player will win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs will enter the debate.
The player who wins is the one who is deemed to be the most instrumental to his team throughout the playoffs. While top stars win their fair share, several winners have been relatively unsung during the season, but that changes once they win the award.
You can place your wagers on the winner of the Conn Smythe at sportsbooks. If you make the right call, you could be in line for a solid payday. Here’s a look back at the last ten winners of the Conn Smythe:
|2021||Andrei Vasilevsky||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|2020||Victor Hedman||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|2019||Ryan O'Reilly||St. Louis Blues|
|2018||Alexander Ovechkin||Washington Capitals|
|2017||Sidney Crosby||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|2016||Sidney Crosby||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|2015||Duncan Keith||Chicago Blackhawks|
|2014||Justin Williams||Los Angeles Kings|
|2013||Patrick Kane||Chicago Blackhawks|
|2012||Jonathan Quick||Los Angeles Kings|
Vegas odds for NHL playoffs
Las Vegas has long been regarded as the place to look for the best betting lines on the NHL and every other sport. The oddsmakers out in the desert have been essentially setting the market for decades. These days, they have some company. Local legal shops are delivering comparable odds and lines for bettors to consider.
When you’re ready to bet on the NHL, you can certainly check the numbers out of Vegas and use them as a benchmark. From there, compare what you’ve found with the latest odds from the local shops. As a general rule, you’ll find that the markets are in sync. You might find some outliers here or there, but you can generally find great NHL betting lines closer to home.
House rules for betting on hockey
If players do the wrong thing on the ice, they’ll be slapped with a penalty. The NHL rulebook is quite thick and serves as a guide for all to follow on what is or isn’t allowed. At legal sportsbooks, there are also rules that need to be followed. Generally referred to as house rules, here are some of the top points you need to be aware of:
- Unless expressly stated otherwise in the bet terms, settlement of wagers will include overtime and shootout results.
- Bets will remain live in the event of a slight delay or venue change, but a complete cancellation of a game or season will lead to wagers being voided and refunded.
- Settlement of all bets is based on official league data and statistics. Winning wagers are paid promptly once the result is confirmed.
The majority of house rules cover bet settlement and placement, while others delve into circumstances that could impact wagers. You should always take the time to review the rules of the road wherever you play. While you’ll find a lot of similarity across the industry, certain situations might be handled differently by the various operators.
Brief history of the NHL Stanley Cup
The Stanley Cup was first awarded in 1893. Named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada, the cup was first won by the Montreal Hockey Club. In the early days, the winner was determined by league play and challenge games. Initially awarded to amateur clubs, professional clubs became eligible to play for it in 1906.
In 1926, it took over as the championship award for the NHL. Originally standing 7.28 inches high by 11.42 inches wide, the cup has grown over the years and currently stands at 35.25 inches and weighs 35.25 pounds. A replica of the original bowl sits on top of bands, where winners get their names engraved, which are replaced as needed for size constraints.
Last ten winners of the Stanley Cup
Over the past decade, just six clubs have skated away with Lord Stanley’s cup to cap off the season. Two of them did so in back-to-back years, while another pair won two over the course of three seasons. Here’s a look back at the last ten years of Stanley Cup finals, including both participants and the number of games needed to decide the series.
|Year||Series Results||Number of Games|
|2021||Tampa Bay Lightning over Montreal Canadiens||4-1|
|2020||Tampa Bay Lightning over Dallas Stars||4-2|
|2019||St. Louis Blues over Boston Bruins||4-3|
|2018||Washington Capitals over Vegas Golden Knights||4-1|
|2017||Pittsburgh Penguins over Nashville Predators||4-2|
|2016||Pittsburgh Penguins over San Jose Sharks||4-2|
|2015||Chicago Blackhawks over Tampa Bay Lightning||4-2|
|2014||Los Angeles Kings over New York Rangers||4-1|
|2013||Chicago Blackhawks over Boston Bruins||4-2|
|2012||Los Angeles Kings over New Jersey Devils||4-2|
Stanley Cup history for Canadian teams
Canada-based NHL teams have made huge contributions to Stanley Cup lore. The Montreal Canadiens top the charts in both number of appearances in the finals and cup wins, while the Toronto Maple Leafs are third and second respectively in those metrics. Of the seven squads, the Winnipeg Jets are the only one to have never made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Here’s a peek at the cup history for the other six teams.
|Montreal Canadiens||35||24-11||2021 - Lost in five games to Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||21||13-8||1967 - Won in six games over Montreal Canadiens|
|Edmonton Oilers||7||5-2||2006 - Lost in seven games to Carolina Hurricanes|
|Calgary Flames||3||1-2||2004 - Lost in seven games to Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Vancouver Canucks||3||0-3||2011 - Lost in seven games to Boston Bruins|
|Ottawa Senators||1||0-1||2007 - Lost in five games to Anaheim Ducks|
Which teams have won the most Stanley Cups?
Just three of the current NHL clubs have won ten or more Stanley Cups. At the other end of the spectrum, four franchises are still waiting for their first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals.
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Minnesota Wild
- Winnipeg Jets
- Arizona Coyotes
Throughout the lengthy history of the NHL, there have been a number of memorable dynasties, including the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, and Edmonton Oilers. Here’s a look at the records of all of the current squads that have made it to the Stanley Cup finals at least once.
|Team||Appearances||Record||Last Win||Last Appearance|
|Detroit Red Wings||24||11-13||2008||2009|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||21||13-8||1967||1967|
|New York Rangers||11||4-7||1994||2014|
|New York Islanders||5||4-1||1983||1984|
|New Jersey Devils||5||3-2||2003||2012|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||4||3-1||2021||2021|
|St. Louis Blues||4||1-3||2019||2019|
|Los Angeles Kings||3||2-1||2014||2014|
|San Jose Sharks||1||0-1||N/A||2016|
|Vegas Golden Knights||1||0-1||N/A||2018|
Stanley Cup/NHL Playoffs betting tips
When it’s playoff time in the NHL, you’ll still want to break down the matchups as you normally would. In a nutshell, you’re looking for specific advantages that one side has over the other and any weaknesses that may be exploited. If you combine that with a good working knowledge of news surrounding both clubs, you can make a reasonable prediction on what might happen.
Of course, what seems most likely to happen isn’t always what comes to pass in the world of sports. That becomes even more true as the stakes ramp up on the ice. The somewhat hidden factors become that much more important in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Here are three specific areas you’ll want to spend some time digging into:
- Who’s hot or not?: Momentum is a massive factor in NHL games. An inopportune penalty or turnover that leads to a goal can suddenly change the narrative on the ice. From a broader perspective, teams that are catching fire heading into the postseason can be much better off than those clubs that padded the record early in the season before cooling off. Cumulative records don’t tell the whole story, so be sure to examine the current state of affairs for each team.
- Playing styles matter: It’s extremely rare to go through an entire NHL postseason without seeing some upsets happen. A great clue on how to spot them comes down to understanding the playing styles of the two teams in a series and how the other side can or can’t handle it. Quite simply, there are some lesser teams which play a style that even the top teams can’t break through. When examining the series throughout the tournament, make a mental note of potential trouble spots and dig deeper for clarity.
- Watch the odds and shop around: You should always be watching the odds when you wager and be in search of the best possible prices before placing your bets. For the Stanley Cup playoffs, betting volume increases with more casual fans in the mix, so you can expect to see even more movement on the odds board. You can study the movements to get a sense of where the public money is heading, but be careful not to be too influenced by that and to make the calls that you feel the most comfortable with.
For hockey fans, the Stanley Cup playoffs season is one of the best times of the year. Even the casual fans get on board more than normal as there’s just something really special about playoff hockey. The introduction of single-game wagering will bring even more folks to the party, so we have a lot to look forward to with sports betting in Ontario.