As we approach the halfway point of an NHL regular season like no other, we’ve reached an important milestone: the one at which it is no longer “way too early” to start separating haves from have-nots. Can anyone overcome the defending champion Lightning? Are the Capitals for real? Are the Oilers going to throw scouting reports out the window and beat all comers in a series of absolute goal-fests? The picture is truly beginning to face into focus as the snow dries up across North America with an eye toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With that in mind, it’s time for CanadianBettingSites to roll through the best and brightest 2021 Stanley Cup Final exact matchup picks, plus some nifty futures bets for the NHL’s most competitive divisions.
2021 Stanley Cup Final: Exact Matchup
Split into four ad hoc divisions this season in order to limit excess travel against the backdrop of COVID-19 — and with the Eastern and Western Conferences temporarily abolished — the sheer number of possible, plausible Stanley Cup Final matchups has literally never been so high. That arguably disadvantages the teams at the very top, as nobody gets to be the beneficiary of beating up on the weaker of the two conferences in order to punch their ticket to the best-of-seven for all the marbles.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t some clear clubhouse leaders standing well above the pack.
The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning have picked up right where they left off, sporting an NHL-best +30 goal differential as of this writing. Only one other team in the league is better than +20.
Tied with Tampa Bay for the fewest losses in the league with four? Vegas, Florida, and Toronto. And if we’re going to find the most compelling opponent for the Bolts from a betting perspective, there’s no better choice than the Maple Leafs, who simply don’t give their foes even a moment’s peace: over their first 22 games, they lead the league in goals per game, and have lost just twice outside of overtime.
No offence to a quality team like the Panthers, but Toronto’s two-headed monster of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner is the stuff of nightmares. Nobody’s going to want to face this team, who happen to have lost just once away from home when the games matter most.
Pick Tampa Bay vs. Toronto as an exact 2021 Stanley Cup Final matchup (23.00). A $20 bet cashes out for a terrific $460 at Bodog.
|2021 Stanley Cup Exact Matchup Odds|
|Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning||19.00|
|Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning||19.00|
|Colorado Avalanche vs. Toronto Maple Leafs||21.00|
|Vegas Golden Knights vs. Toronto Maple Leafs||21.00|
|Colorado Avalanche vs. Boston Bruins||23.00|
|Vegas Golden Knights vs. Boston Bruins||23.00|
|Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs||23.00|
|Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins||23.00|
|Colorado Avalanche vs. Montreal Canadiens||26.00|
|Vegas Golden Knights vs. Montreal Canadiens||26.00|
|Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens||26.00|
|Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins||26.00|
|Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins||34.00|
With such a wide-open postseason format, however, there is a very real temptation to shoot for the moon with a truly inspired dark horse pick. There are some great ones out there for bettors, especially if you believe in a team like the Capitals, Panthers, or Oilers.
And what if I told you that a great Vegas Golden Knights team with top-five odds to win the Stanley Cup would pair up with one of those three squads and deliver a state of betting nirvana in so doing?
The opportunity for a rematch of the 2018 Final might just be too good to pass up.
For a dark horse matchup pick, give a long look to Vegas vs. Washington (51.00). A $20 wager at top sportsbooks like Bodog pays out an immaculate $1,020.
2021 NHL East Division Winner
Speaking of the Caps, if you truly believe in Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Co., why not let it ride and go even bigger? There is no tighter divisional race as of this writing than the hunt for the East, and though the Boston Bruins are the current odds-on favourite, Washington ought to feel disrespected by that fact. They’ve lost just once all season long outside of overtime, and they’ve scored 12 more goals than anyone else in the division.
And adding an absolute wall of a man in defence by the name of Zdeno Chara turned out not to hurt, either.
In the search for betting value, the Caps are a nifty choice from any number of angles until further notice.
In the NHL East Division, take the Washington Capitals to win (7.53). A winning $20 ticket redeems for $150.60 at Sports Interaction.
2021 NHL West Division Winner
The one division that might-just-might be even tighter than the East? The wild, wild West, where just four points separate the No. 1 seed from No. 6 as of this writing.
The Golden Knights are setting the pace so far this season and surely boast the best roster from top to bottom. Of course, that won’t do much to deter the likes of the Colorado Avalanche, who are a trendy Stanley Cup pick, or the upwardly mobile Minnesota Wild, who are enjoying a breakout rookie campaign from winger Kirill Kaprizov.
Kirill Kaprizov keeps finding ways to impress us. 😳 pic.twitter.com/ymt27Yqnhp
— NHL (@NHL) February 25, 2021
In the big picture, however, there’s just nobody out West that can match VGK as it pertains to pure class. The front line of William Karlsson, Max Pacioretty, and Mark Stone are combining for one goal and nearly two assists per game among them, and not many teams can boast that they’ve got a three-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender minding the net-like Vegas can with Marc-Andre Fleury.
It’s tempting to swing for the fences. But in the case of the West Division, don’t overthink this one.
In the NHL West Division, take the Vegas Golden Knights to win (2.30). A $20 bet cashes out for $46 at 10Bet.