Check out our latest betting tips on the NHL as the season resumes following an extensive lockdown period.
Ice Hockey finally returns to North America after a long hiatus, with the Stanley Cup playing host to 24 teams for this 2020 iteration and featuring a best of five series in the qualifying round, along with a round-robin to determine the top seeds. All games will be played in two hub cities: Toronto (Eastern) and Edmonton (Western).
The NHL used a points-per-game system to determine the final placings in each Conference, with the top four from each, going into the round-robin phase, playing each other once to decide on their final seeding in the play-offs. The remaining eight sides in each Conference, go into a qualifying round, in a best of five series to decide who the seeded teams play.
So, with this new system in place, bettors have a few other markets to play in. Check out a few standout bets, along with Conference and Stanley Cup selections, plus our tip for the 2020 Hart Trophy.
PICK OF THE QUALIFYING
There are plenty of high-quality match-ups across the Western and Eastern Conference qualifiers, with a real standout below.
Canadiens v Penguins
The Penguins go in as strong favourites to take the series, which is no surprise with the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Letang in the side. Still, the Canadiens do have goaltender Carey Price, who is prone to the odd miracle between the pipes, with four shutouts in the regular season.
The Canadiens have caused the Penguins problems, winning during the regular season and taking them to OT and for game one, a cautious approach is likely. While questions remain over Sidney Crosby’s return for the opener. However, across five games, it would be a tough ask for the Canadiens to stop the star-studded Penguins.
Game One Betting: Under 5.5 Total Goals
Series Prediction: Penguins Win: 3-1
With a round-robin event, deciding the seedings across both Conferences, it also gives bettors a valuable insight into who will win the Eastern and Western titles.
The Boston Bruins lead the betting for the conference title, with the Bruins leading the Lightning by 8 points, when the season was halted. Goal machine, David Pastrnak leads the scoring charts, while at the other end Tuukka Rask leads the Goaltending stats, with the least Goals Against Average in the NHL. However, it would be a little unfair to single out just this pair, with the team as a whole contributing as one.
Behind the Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to pick up their form, having won just three of the last ten matches, before the season stopped, although that did include a victory over the Bruins. However, an over-reliance on Nikita Kucherov could be an issue, while goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy ranks third this season for most shots faced, which asks more questions about the defence.
Outside of these main favourites, the Capitals, Flyers and the Penguins too, look to have genuine chances of going all the way. However, the Bruins just look too strong.
This looks a three-team fight, with the Stanley Cup holders St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights both expected to be in the hunt, however, the Colorado Avalanche are the selection here.
The Avalanche finished just 2 points behind the Blues in the regular season and had picked up seven victories from their last ten matches played and had beaten the Blues in the previous two meetings. They are the top scorers in the Conference and had the third-best defence during the regular season and will be further boosted by the returns of both Cale Makar and Nathan McKinnon, who had missed practice over the last week of training.
The Blues won’t lay down easily, and with one of the top goaltenders in the game, in Jake Allen between the pipes, the match-up in the round-robin event between the two sides will offer tremendous pointers to who will take the Conference title.
Colorado Avalanche To Win Western Conference
STANLEY CUP WINNERS
So, who will hold the Stanley Cup aloft in 2020?
Well, the Bruins look the pick of the sides here, having gone so close last season, in that 3-4 series loss to the St.Louis Blues, but that pain seems to have spurred them on so far, with a superb regular-season record, along with some inspired form, from players such as Pasternak, Rask, Krug and Marchand to name a few.
They won their sixth title back in 2011, and it could be seventh heaven for Boston fans in 2020.