The Stanley Cup playoffs and Finals are what hockey is all about for many NHL fans. It’s certainly what the sport is all about for the teams and players. The Stanley Cup itself was first awarded in 1893, and it’s as coveted today as it ever was. With 16 teams competing to win it over four rounds of best-of-seven, there are plenty of opportunities for fans to try and turn their predictions into profits. If you’re just getting started, here’s our user-friendly guide on how to bet on the Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup is as American as the Star-Spangled Banner or mom’s apple pie. For that reason, all legal US sportsbooks will offer plenty of opportunities to bet on the Stanley Cup. This is good to know, because some states only have one sportsbook in operation, so bettors in those states don’t have much choice.
Of course, other states will have several sportsbooks operating in them, and that gives you a chance to choose between them. If you are an experienced bettor and you want to be on a specific kind of market, we would suggest that you with whatever sportsbook suits your needs most appropriately. Otherwise, focus on the big names to start with (for example, DraftKings, Fan Duel and William Hill) and go from there.
As we mentioned earlier, the Stanley Cup term refers to the trophy which is awarded to the eventual winners. This just happens to be the oldest sporting trophy which continues to be used in professional sports in North America. It was created in 1892 and was first awarded in 1893. That means it will celebrate its 130th anniversary in 2022.
The format of the Stanley Cup playoffs has been largely unchanged since 1979/80. A total of 16 teams participate - the top 3 teams from each of the 4 divisions, plus 2 teams from each of the 2 conferences. Those teams then play three rounds of a best-of-seven series. This whittles things down to just 2 remaining teams which face each other in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of everyone. And the sport of ice hockey hasn’t been immune from its impact. The format of the Stanley Cup playoffs for 2021 were changed so that the event could still go ahead. This format change meant that the top 4 teams from each division would qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. This removed the need for Wild Card entries.
The Stanley Cup Finals are a best-of-seven series involving the best team from the Eastern Conference and the best team from the Western Conference. This is the series of games that tends to attract the most action from betting fans. With as many as seven games that can be played, it gives bettors the chance to land multiple winning bets.
The answer to whether or not it is legal to bet on the Stanley Cup in the United States depends on which state you are in. Online sports betting via web or mobile is completely legal in some states, whilst others only allow you to bet at kiosks located in land-based casinos. Some states have not yet made any form of sports betting legal.
A quick overview of what is and isn’t legal in your state can be found on our page about online sports betting in the USA. If you are unlucky enough to live in a state where sports betting isn’t legal, your only option is to visit a nearby state where it is. Of course, if your state has legalized online sports betting, you will be able to bet on the Stanley Cup with any regulated sportsbook that operates in your state.
This is the betting market that most sports fans will be thinking of when talking about betting on the Stanley Cup. Your task here is to predict which team will win the competition as a whole and thereby earn the title of Stanley Cup Champions for the season.
One of the biggest advantages of this betting market is that it is as simple as they get. Each team will be offered with odds that reflect how the sportsbook assesses their chances, and you simply bet on the team that you want to win. If the team succeeds, your bet wins.
This market tends to have a moneyline format, with odds quoted alongside their name. For example:
And so on. The odds figures shown assume a bet of $100, so if you bet $100 on Team A and they win, your bet would give you a profit of $500. Similarly, a $100 bet on Team C would win you $1,200 if they succeed.
You can bet on the Stanley Cup winner at any stage of the season - even before the Stanley Cup playoffs have started.
The earlier you bet, the more generous the odds are likely to be, because there will be more work to do for a team to reach the Finals and then beat their opponents.
Of course, if your selected team doesn’t reach the Finals, or they lose to their opponents in the Finals, your bet will similarly lose.
Because a bet on the Stanley Cup winner is an all-or-nothing proposal, many NHL fans also like to bet on individual games during both the playoffs and the Finals.
This makes it a lot easier to place a winning bet, as there are only two teams involved in each game, but of course, the odds available won’t be as generous as those for a series or the competition as a whole. Your options when betting on an individual game will include:
Moneyline. This is a simple bet on the team that you think will win. If the team wins the game, your moneyline bet will also succeed.
Totals. How many goals will be scored during the game? That’s the question you have to answer here. The sportsbook will draw a proverbial line in the ice by making its own prediction. You will then have to bet on whether the total number of goals scored will be under or over the sportsbook’s prediction.
Puck Line. Here the sportsbook will try to even up a game by giving the underdog a theoretical advantage (say +1.5 goals) and the favorite an equal disadvantage (say -1.5 goals). You can then bet on the underdog or the favorite, as you prefer. For a bet on the underdog to win, the team must either win outright or lose by no more than the advantage given. For a bet on the favorite to win, the team must win by more than the stated disadvantage.
Because the Stanley Cup Finals is a best-of-seven series, you can bet before that series starts or you can bet when it is already underway. The odds available about each team will reflect both the sportsbook’s opinion about their chances and the current series score. For example, the odds for a team that is already 2-0 up in the series will be lower than they were before the series began.
Being able to bet as the series progresses means that you could hedge any other bets that you also have running. For example, if you had bet on Team C at +1200 in the Stanley Cup Winner market, and they succeed in reaching the Finals, you could afford to also bet on their opponents. That could give you a guaranteed profit - odds permitting - no matter which team actually wins the Finals.
When you are betting on an individual game, be it in the playoffs or in the Finals, you also have the chance to make prop bets. These are bets on events that can take place quite independently of a particular team winning or losing. If the event happens, your bet wins, regardless of how the game ends.
Two examples of popular prop bets in the world of NHL involve naming a certain player to score a goal and predicting which team will score first.
If the named player scores, or your chosen team scores first, a bet on that outcome would win. It would also be settled straight away because the bet isn’t at all dependent on the result of the game itself.
You can use goal stats to create a very rough prediction of how the next game might go if both teams play to their previous average performance.
To do this, simply take the number of goals scored by a team and divide by the number of games played. This will give you an average number of goals per game.
Do the same for the other team in a coming game and compare the two. The team with the highest average is - according to this measure - the most likely to win.
For example, Team A has scored 40 goals from 20 games. Take 40 and divide by 20 and you get 2 goals per game. Team B, on the other hand, has scored 80 goals from 20 games. The same calculation gives them an average of 4 goals per game. That makes Team B the most likely to win according to goal stats.
How well has the team you are considering fared in previous Stanley Cup playoffs? A team that has previously performed well in numerous playoffs games could be a far better bet than one that never seems to live up to expectations. This is a very general guide, of course, and exceptions are what make ice hockey so exciting. Even so, in the world of betting, siding with obvious underdogs is usually a fast track to the poorhouse.
Sportsbooks don’t set their odds by plucking random numbers from bingo machines. Instead, they hire full-time professional analysts to set odds based on how players and teams have performed in the past.
That doesn’t make their odds a cast-iron guide to the future, of course, or we’d all be rich and the sportsbooks would be out of business. However, it is worth looking at sportsbook odds and noting who they favor.
If your own considerations also lead you to lean in a similar direction, there’s a good chance that you’re onto something.
A team can only perform to the best of its ability if it is in good shape. If one or more key players is struggling with an injury or fitness issue, it can have a negative effect on the whole team. It is therefore always worth checking to make sure that no serious problems are being reported before placing any bet.
Also give some thought to the morale of a team. A team that is 3-0 down in a best-of-seven series may well have already conceded defeat psychologically, which would make them a poor bet for the fourth game. If the same team has fought back from 3-0 down to draw level at 3-3, on the other hand, they will be highly motivated to try and clinch the series in the seventh.
All of the sportsbooks featured here at HowToBet are completely legal and safe for bettors in the states where they operate. Head over to our online sportsbooks page and you’ll find a breakdown of all the states in which legal sportsbooks operate. Follow the link for the state you want to bet in and you’ll be shown which sportsbooks you have to choose from. Each sportsbook also has its own review page so that you can see exactly what it offers before you sign up. You can also explore the featured sportsbooks show below.
The Stanley Cup for the 2019/20 season was won by Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Stanley Cup playoffs for the 2020/21 season will begin on 11 May and end on 9 July.
The Montreal Canadiens is the team that has had most success in the Stanley Cup, having won 24 times.
You can bet on the Stanley Cup playoffs and Finals at most online sportsbooks. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and William Hill are all good choices if they are operating in your state.