2020-2021 NFL Season Update

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NHL 2021 Update

This is about as close to normal as the NHL was going to get. The powers that be decided to play out the 2021 season at the usual home arenas – putting all seven Canadian teams in their own division, in order to satisfy the coronavirus measures north of the border. So far, the teams who were expected to perform well are doing just that. The same four clubs who sat atop Bovada Sportsbook’s NHL odds board heading into the new campaign are still there at press time.

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a crazy season. The Montreal Canadiens, for example, started off with a bang at 7-1-2, but fired head coach Claude Julien less than a month later. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford retired out of the blue. And the first of the two outdoor games the league scheduled for Lake Tahoe was a mess; the sun was too hot that day, so they stopped after the first period and came back eight hours later to finish. Welcome to pandemic hockey.

NHL Odds to Win the 2021 Stanley Cup

Although the top four favorites on Bovada’s NHL betting odds haven’t changed since the start of the 2021 campaign, there’s a new team at No. 1, and they’ve been waiting quite a while for their shot at glory.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs: +550 NHL Odds

Given the sharp improvement in their NHL odds, 2021 could be a banner year for the Maple Leafs (18-5-2). As expected, they’ve taken advantage of the weak North Division, steamrolling their opponents and making the leap from +1100 heading into the regular season. The Leafs famously haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967; this is easily their best opportunity since, with no American-based teams in their way until the Eastern Conference semifinals.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning: +650 NHL Odds

The defending champs aren’t going to give up the Cup so easily. The Lightning (16-4-1) have the NHL’s best goal differential at press time, checking in at plus-32; that’s one goal better than Toronto. And they’re doing it in the much tougher Central Division, with the 16-6-1 Carolina Hurricanes (+1100) and others chasing them down. The Bolts have already moved up from +750 since the season began; if they keep this up, a Toronto-Tampa Bay playoff clash seems inevitable.

3. Colorado Avalanche: +700 NHL Odds

Don’t count out the preseason favorites just yet. The Avalanche (12-7-1) have taken a step back from +650 after a so-so start, but their +13 goal differential is still good for seventh overall in the league, and Philipp Grubauer (.920 save percentage) has performed very well between the pipes. Colorado could definitely move back up this list if and when key players like defenseman Cale Makar get healthy.

4. Vegas Golden Knights: +800 NHL Odds

It didn’t take long for the Golden Knights (14-4-1) to give Marc-Andre Fleury his job back as their No. 1 netminder. Fleury (.939 SV%) has been dominant in the crease throughout Robin Lehner’s (.890 SV%) upper-body injury that started February 10. Vegas have gone 7-3 since Fleury took over, with all three losses by a single goal; their +20 differential is well ahead of Colorado’s in the West Division, and that gap should widen if Fleury keeps playing this way.

*Odds as of March 15, 2021

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