Pittsburgh Penguins’ Jeff Carter (77) cannot get a wraparound past Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
- With puck drop on the NHL season just hours away, several teams sit on the bubble in the odds to make the NHL playoffs
- Key injuries and an aging line up make the Pittsburgh Penguins an attractive bet to miss the playoffs
- With nowhere to go but up following a dismal 2021 campaign, can the Vancouver Canucks defy the odds with a trip back to the postseason?
As the countdown to puck drop on the NHL regular season continues, the action is heating up in the odds to make the NHL playoffs. Here is an early look at the best bets to make and miss the NHL playoffs in both the Eastern and Western Conferences as the NHL 2021-2022 regular season gets underway.
Odds to Make the NHL Playoffs
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+1100||-2000|
|Detroit Red Wings||+800||-1400|
|Los Angeles Kings||+250||-320|
|New Jersey Devils||+170||-200|
|New York Rangers||-190||+160|
|San Jose Sharks||+250||-320|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-1600||+850|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-1600||+850|
|Vegas Golden Knights||-1600||+900|
|New York Islanders||-350||+270|
|St. Louis Blues||-130||+100|
Odds as of October 11th at DraftKings.
Eastern Conference: Aging Pens Hobbled by Injury, Flyers Set to Rebound
The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off an impressive first-place finish atop the East Division standings, but after yet another dismal playoff performance, the time has come to start wondering just how much the current Pens group has left in the tank. Perched as a strong -215 bet in the NHL odds to make a 16th straight trip to the postseason, the Penguins face a number of questions coming out of the gate.
Coach Sullivan on starting the season without Crosby and Malkin: “They’re two generational talents, so those guys aren’t easy to replace… Whenever players go down from an injury standpoint, it’s going to provide opportunity for others.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) September 23, 2021
Injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leave the squad dangerously thin up the middle, while questions linger as to which version of netminder Tristan Jarry will show up. Jarry was stellar during the 2021 regular season, racking up a 25-9-2 record, but stumbled badly in the playoffs. Complicating matters further for Pittsburgh is the team’s return to the ultra competitive Metropolitan Division, and no easy matchups in the October schedule.
While the Penguins are looking increasingly ripe for a makeover, the Philadelphia Flyers are a leading candidate to benefit from their offseason changes. After finishing dead last in the NHL in goals allowed last season, the club took steps to bolster their blue line with the addition of Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Keith Yandle. The arrival of Cam Atkinson should also help spark an attack that averaged just 2.75 goals per game over their final 16 contests.
Carter Hart ends up with a 1.20 GAA and .953 save percentage in the preseason (two games). #Flyers
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) October 7, 2021
However, the big question remains whether goaltender Carter Hart can rebound from a forgettable campaign during which he compiled career worsts in wins, goals against average, and save percentage. The addition of backup martin Jones is an upgrade over Brian Elliott. And while, like Pittsburgh, the Flyers face a daunting task to keep pace in the Metropolitan, the amount of talent on this roster makes them impossible to ignore as a -125 bet to return to the postseason in the NHL playoff odds.
The Picks: Penguins to miss the playoffs (+175); Flyers to make the playoffs (-125)
Western Conference: Canucks Poised for a Turnaround, Fade the Kraken
Whatever could go wrong did go wrong for the Vancouver Canucks last season. Injuries to key personnel and a prolonged hiatus due to a COVID-19 outbreak doomed Vancouver to a last-place finish in the North Division. However, with the team returning to full health, including the return of star forward Elias Pettersson, and bolstered by offseason upgrades, the youthful Canucks are poised for a turnaround.
After adding BOTH Conor Garland & Oliver Ekman-Larsson, GM Jim Benning & the Vancouver Canucks certainly mean business in 2021-22:
— Dom Lunardo (@TapetoTape88) July 26, 2021
The additions of defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Conor Garland should bolster the club’s attack, while the arrival of veteran Jaroslav Halak should provide a big boost for young netminder Thatcher Demko. This Canucks squad remains a work in progress, but is far more talented than what they demonstrated last season, and are worthy of a wager as a +170 bet to make the playoffs.
The arrival of the NHL’s 32nd franchise has been met with considerable fanfare and high expectations, but can the Seattle Kraken come close to matching the Vegas Golden Knights’ spectacular debut four years ago? The short answer is no.
Instead of goal scoring or goaltending, the Seattle Kraken will be built around Cap Space! https://t.co/fv8Q9C7T4p
— A Winning Habit (@FSAWinningHabit) July 21, 2021
The Kraken have added the necessary pieces to be a competitive team during their expansion campaign. Philipp Grubauer arrives in Seattle as an intriguing +1200 bet to win the Vezina Trophy, and former Calgary captain Marc Giordano will provide this club with much needed leadership. However, who will produce offense for this time is yet to be determined. The top candidates for first-line duties (Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Eberle, and Alex Wennberg) combined to score just 41 total goals last season, and there is little offensive punch further down the depth chart. Add to that the challenge of playing in the Pacific Division, and the Kraken emerge as a solid +115 bet to miss the postseason.
The Picks: Canucks to make the playoffs (+170); Kraken to miss the playoffs (+115)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.