NHL Betting Action Heats Up as Players Return to Ice in Stanley Cup Qualifiers

Posted on: August 2, 2020, 11:52h. 

Last updated on: August 3, 2020, 01:08h.

After a nearly four-month absence, the National Hockey League resumed play this past weekend with games in Toronto and Edmonton featuring plenty of excitement.

NHL hockey
Colorado’s Nazem Kadri barely beats the clock to give the Avalanche a 2-1 win Sunday over the St. Louis Blues. It was the first game for both teams since the coronavirus shut down the season in March. (Image: Altitude TV)

Five of the first 10 games were won by a goal. That included Sunday’s 2-1 win by the Colorado Avalanche over the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, where Nazem Kadri netted the game-winner with just :00.1 left on the clock.

The NHL brought 24 of its 31 teams back to complete the season that shut down in mid-March because of the COVID-19 crisis. A dozen Eastern Conference teams have encamped in Toronto, while 12 Western Conference teams play in Edmonton.

This week, the bottom eight teams have been seeded in both conferences and will face each other in a best-of-five series to determine the final four playoff teams from each conference. The top four teams in each conference will face each other in a round-robin format to determine their seeds.

The opening weekend did see some shocking results. The two 12 seeds, Montreal Canadians and Chicago Blackhawks posted wins in their series openers, and the two host teams, the Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs fell in their first games.

Much like the NBA, the NHL’s resumption format means there will be multiple games scheduled throughout the day. On Monday, six games will take place, all scheduled to start between Noon ET and 10:30 p.m. ET. With the games spread out, it may lead to more wagering on the game, including possibly more in-game betting, as bettors will have a chance to watch more contests.

Bettors Like Avs

As play resumes, the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning were the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.  However, over at BetMGM, bettors like the Colorado Avalanche and the Philadelphia Flyers to lift up the cup.

The Avalanche are also drawing bettors on another future prop bet as well. BetMGM told Casino.org via email it’s seeing “a significant amount” of action on Colorado forward Nathan McKinnon to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, which goes to the most valuable player during the Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s also the oddsmakers’ top choice at +900.

Since there are no fans attending the games, MGM oddsmakers say there is no advantage given to the host teams, or for any games involving Canadian teams. And while the teams are coming off a significant stoppage, the oddsmakers say it hasn’t been that challenging to set odds.

With the neutral venue, it really comes down to matchups and who’s the better team statistically,” BetMGM said in an email to Casino.org.

Through Friday, BetMGM is offering new customers who wager $1 on an NHL game $100 in free bets if a goal is scored in the game. The wager special is available in New Jersey, Colorado, West Virginia, and Indiana.

Penguins, Blackhawks Popular at BetRivers

Over at BetRivers.com, the Rush Street Interactive sportsbook saw interest in several of Saturday’s games.

Saturday featured numerous betting opportunities in the lucrative Pennsylvania market, with the NHL going up against NBA and MLB games, plus UFC and PGA golf. Despite the competition, nearly a quarter of the wagers made by BetRivers.com bettors in the Keystone State were on the Canadians overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In Illinois, the second-most popular game, betting-wise, on Saturday was the Blackhawks stunning 6-4 win over Edmonton.