2021-2022 NFL Betting Preview

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NHL Betting January Update

We’re almost at the halfway point of the 2021-22 NHL regular season – at least for some teams. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced the postponement of multiple games, with the Atlantic Division hit especially hard over the holidays. However, there’s renewed hope for a relatively smooth postseason, given what we know about the omicron variant at this point. Despite the disruptions, the NHL odds at Bovada Sportsbook remain pretty much the same for this year’s top Stanley Cup contenders.

The Atlantic has fallen behind schedule due the decision made by Quebec and Ontario officials to restrict live attendance; this prompted the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs to put several of their games on ice, hoping to play them later this spring in front of paying customers. The Winnipeg Jets are in a similar situation in the Central Division, and the remaining three Canadian teams in the Pacific could be next. The longer the omicron wave takes, the more this schedule imbalance will impact this year’s Stanley Cup odds.

NHL Odds to Win the 2022 Stanley Cup

For now, only one of the seven Canadian-based teams has managed to crack the top five favorites at Bovada – and it will likely stay that way from here through the playoffs. Here are the leading Cup contenders at press time.

1. Colorado Avalanche: +550 NHL Odds

Regaining sole possession of first place are the Avalanche, who won five of their last six games before the extended holiday break, and won their first three coming out the other side. With such a discrepancy in games played among the teams, win percentage (in games decided in regulation) is a key stat right now. Colorado leads the Western Conference at .666 heading into Thursday’s action, good enough for fifth overall.

Health-wise, the Avalanche are doing quite well at the moment, with zero players on the COVID-19 list. They’re No. 1 in the league at 4.30 goals scored per game and first in accuracy at 12.6%, however, the Avs have also given up 3.23 goals per game (No. 21 overall). Darcy Kuemper has been a disappointment between the pipes, posting a .912 save percentage in 22 starts, yet Colorado won 16 of those games – a success rate that might be unsustainable in the long run.

2. Florida Panthers: +700 NHL Odds

The market may be starting to cool on the Panthers. They briefly joined Colorado in first place on this list at +600 before slipping back into second, losing four of their last five games before the holidays. However, Florida shot right back with four straight wins after the break followed by a loss to Dallas on the 6, improving their win percentage to .647, second in the East.

Fittingly enough, the Panthers are also second in scoring behind the Avs at 3.88 goals per game. On the other hand, their defense has been considerably better than Colorado’s at 2.94 goals allowed (No. 16 overall). It helps to have a two-time Vezina Trophy winner in Sergei Bobrovsky (.918 save percentage), although there’s a massive drop-off from Bobrovsky to his back-up, 20-year-old sophomore Spencer Knight (.896 SV%). Florida might want to address that weakness ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning: +700 NHL Odds

The Lightning have taken another step forward from +800 since we last checked in on the defending champions. They were one of the hottest teams in the league before Christmas, winning seven of eight games, and they were at close to full health – until defenseman Zach Bogosian suffered a lower-body injury in Tampa’s 9-3 loss to Florida on December 30. That was the first of three straight defeats for the Bolts, who find themselves seventh in the East with a .638 win percentage.

However, help is on the way; Nikita Kucherov, the 2018-19 Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy winner, is back in uniform for the first time since he took a puck to the tender lower-body region on October 16. Kucherov is no stranger to this role; after missing the entire 2020-21 regular season (short though it was) to a hip injury, he returned for the postseason and led all players with 32 points, as Tampa successfully defended their Cup title. What will he do for an encore?

4. Toronto Maple Leafs: +800 NHL Odds

It seems like we’ve been here before. The Maple Leafs are once again among the top Cup contenders, third overall in win percentage at .687 after book-ending the holidays with a four-game winning streak. But do they have what it takes to get it done in the playoffs?

They’re certainly healthy enough at the moment. The Leafs have avoided the same COVID-19 issues that have dogged both Ottawa (+25000) and especially Montreal (+30000) in the Atlantic. Winning the Cup is as much about survival as anything else; if Toronto can ride Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and the rest of their horses into the postseason, they’ll be in very good shape to win their first Cup since 1967.

4. Vegas Golden Knights: +800 NHL Odds

Fans of the Golden Knights aren’t used to being patient. They went to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence, and they’re back in the mix this year, although a stride or two behind the top candidates with their .621 win percentage. That number should go up once Jack Eichel (neck) makes his Vegas debut, and he appears to be on track after successful disk replacement surgery in November.

The Knights still have to hold the fort until then. Goaltending has been a concern since they traded reigning Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks. Robin Lehner (.905 SV%) has missed time with a lower-body injury, and Laurent Brossoit (.900 SV%) is out for undisclosed reasons, leaving third-stringer Logan Thompson (.885 SV%) to carry that weight for now.

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