NHL Playoff Picture Tightens

As the NHL playoff picture tightens up, we are starting to get a clear picture of which teams will contend for the title, and who will be scrapping for the final spots down the stretch.

NHL playoff picture carolina hurricanes aho

2021 Playoff Odds and Probabilities

When the Vancouver Canucks took to the ice Sunday for their first of back-to-back games against first place Toronto, bettors were skeptical, and rightly so. The Canucks hadn’t played since March 24, and their form going into the unplanned break was uninspiring to say the least. Three-straight losses – two of them at home – and a pitiful scoring margin of 14-5.

Vancouver had sunk to the depths of the North division standings. Of course, it was due in large part to the lengthy layoff incurred when 25 players and coaches were placed in COVID protocol. But no matter what the reason, the likelihood of this squad snapping back into midseason form against the division leader was doubtful.

  • Moneyline odds for Toronto winning in Vancouver April 18 went from -280 up to -400.
NHL Playoff picture, odds to win North Division

Not only did the Canucks fight back from a 2-0 deficit, they won the game 3-2 in overtime on captain Bo Horvat’s second of the night. For an encore, the `Nucks doubled up the Leafs 6-3 on Tuesday, saving their best for last. Trailing 3-2, Vancouver scored four times in a 15-minute span. It was a statement game and it served notice to the rest of the North. This team is not going away without a fight.

Montreal chalked up a huge win over Edmonton on Wednesday, giving them an eight-point lead over the Flames and 10-point advantage on the Canucks. Vancouver has five games in hand against the Habs but with a grueling schedule that was adjusted to cram their remaining games in by mid-May, maintaining the high level of intensity we saw against Toronto will be a challenge.

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NHL Game of the Month tonight! (April 23)

NHL Playoff Picture: Central

No sixth-place team with a wafer-thin bench is really striking fear into the hearts of another squad currently inside the playoff bubble, but there are several other races worth keeping tabs on. Take the Central, for example. Dallas currently owns a .556 points-percentage and the Stars have won four in a row. They’re in the midst of an ultra soft scheduling spot with six games against the Jackets and Wings, and taking full advantage.

NHL playoff probability and NHL playoff picture, central division

Nashville and Chicago played a three-point game on Wednesday night. With Tampa Bay trailing the two front runners, Carolina and Florida, it is safe to call this NHL playoff picture a three-team race for fourth. And there can be only one winner.

Since 2017, the Stars have a 129-36 (78%) record when the score at least three goals. Dallas has scored 4-5-3-5 goals during their current win streak and Detroit will have a hard time snuffing out their momentum. Puck line, Over/Under and team total bets are worth considering, but there is conflict here between league trends and team trends

  • NHL road teams like Dallas are 25-7 OVER (78%) off a home win by three of more, when facing a team that’s been on the road for two-plus.

Only the Bruins (60%), Jackets (58%) and Islanders (57%) have posted a greater UNDER percentage than Dallas since 2019.

  • Dallas is 48-17 UNDER in road games with a total of 5.5 the past three years.

The odds for Thursday’s game favor Dallas -185 with a total of 5.5 UN -130. The Stars power play ranks sixth overall at 23.9% and Detroit is 30th at 11.1%. In net penalty kill, the Wings are only 29th, too. Look the Stars to pin their ears back in both games of this doubleheader.

Odds to Win the Stanley Cup

The Colorado Avalanche are a NHL consensus favorite to win the Stanley Cup, despite the fact Vegas leads the West by four points. Colorado has three games in hand against the Knights and before the one-week shutdown, the Avs had won four-straight and nine of their past 10.

Colorado will play three games against the Blues starting tonight (April 22), and the Avs hold a 4-1 edge in that series. Next up, the Avs travel to Sin City for a showdown with the Knights.

  • Coming off a previous shutdown, the Avs lost 1-0 to Vegas but responded with back-to-back wins.
  • Since losing to San Jose on March 1, Colorado is on a 19-2-3 run.

Carolina, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Washington are next on the list of Cup favorites and the Hurricanes have a tough match on-deck vs. Florida tonight.

Carolina at Florida
Thursday, April 22, 7:00 PM ET
Line: Hurricanes -115 and 5.5 OV -120

First place in the Central is on the line and each team is coming off a decisive victory. Carolina took down Tampa Bay 4-1 on Tuesday, while Florida dismantled the Jackets 5-1. Panthers rookie Spencer Knight earned the win during his NHL debut and the depth Florida has between the pipes is giving this club a ton of confidence as the prep for the stretch run.

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Carolina’s power play ranks second in the NHL at 27.4% and their penalty kill is fifth (84%). Each of these teams ranks Top 5 for shots on goal, so look for the Over/Under odds to increase throughout the day. The main reason bookmakers even opened this line at 5.5 is that the Hurricanes are riding a streak of five consecutive unders. Holding Nashville to one goal in back-to-back games is one thing. When you stifle the Lightning’s top playmakers, though, bookies take notice.

  • Off a win by two or more, home teams are 518-357 UNDER (59%) when playing their fourth game in seven days.
  • Carolina is 14-5 (74%) this season against teams with a winning record, including a 9-1 record in their past 10.
  • Florida is 13-20 (39%) at home against teams with a strong power play.
  • The Panthers are 84-53 OVER (61%) against teams that average more than 29.5 shots per game.

Carolina has won five-straight games between these teams and the past four, Florida scored two goals or less each time. The Panthers offense is averaging 3.2 goals per game on the year, and their past three games, Florida has tallied 14 goals. This should be a great game.

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NHL playoff picture, stanley cup odds