NHL Playoff Betting Strategies: Play-In and Quarterfinals Rounds

The fog that is Covid-19 is starting to lift and things are slowly starting to return to normal. Although the pandemic situation continues to evolve, the sun is starting to shine through the clouds on news that the NHL is starting to resume activities. Yesterday, the NHL confirmed what has been speculated over the last few weeks; the NHL will resume play, with a 24 team playoff.

Assuredly, most, if not all of our loyal readers, are familiar with the proposed plan. The NHL will start with a play-in round for the 9th to 24th ranked teams with teams 1 through 8 playing a round-robin style tournament to determine seeding for each of the conferences' top 4 teams. From there, we enter the typical NHL playoff format of conference quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals -- before a Stanley Cup winner is eventually crowned.

With FanDuel Sportsbook unveiling their updated Stanley Cup odds, we thought it was a good time to revisit the Stanley Cup futures market. Early in the season we listed some Stanley Cup Value Bets and followed that up with another article near the halfway point of the season. All told, we outlined six wagers that presented value in the betting market.

Thanks to the NHL's proposed format, all six teams still have their names in the hat. Next, we'll look at strategies to employ for your futures bets as we progress through the playoffs, using the wagers we outlined as a stepping off point.

Play-In Round

Of the six teams highlighted in our betting guides, three have their tickets punched to the quarterfinals, while three will have to go through the play-in elimination round to get there.

The Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins have been confirmed as one of the opening round match-ups. If you took our advice and wagered on both these teams, that leaves you in the enviable position to sit back and see which of your futures bets rides to the next round.

Under a normal playoff scenario this would be an outstanding position to be in through the quarterfinal round; But considering where the Canadiens were when the season was paused, with their playoff hopes all but extinguished, this is an ideal circumstance nonetheless.

That leaves the Edmonton Oilers as the other early-season value bet remaining in the play-in round. They'll be taking on the Chicago Blackhawks when the action gets started. Series prices are not yet available, but considering where these teams were in the standings and the futures board at FanDuel, it's safe to say that the Oilers will likely be heavy favorites when this series gets started. Chicago is tied with Montreal for the longest odds on the board at +10000.

If you want to put yourself in a position to have long odds heading into the quarterfinals, it might be worth taking the Blackhawks on the Stanley Cup futures board. At worst, you'll have a team with +3600 odds in the next round, if you got on the Oilers when we suggested.

Conference Quarterfinals

The Boston Bruins, the Colorado Avalanche and the Washington Capitals are the three other bets with odds of +950, +1100 and +1300, respectively -- when the Stanley Cup Value Bets articles were published. Considering the structure of this year's playoffs, it's not surprising to see these odds now decreased to +600, +800 and, +900, respectively.

If you are holding any of those wagers from earlier in the season, that means, hypothetically, you could take a position against your futures bet through all four rounds and still come out ahead. The position you take should be dictated by the series price once match-ups are known.

In some cases, it might be more beneficial to take an opponent on the series price. The Bruins have been dominant for most of the season and top spot in the Eastern Conference is theirs to lose. If they manage to hang on to the top spot, that would mean a quarterfinal series against either the Toronto Maple Leafs or Columbus Blue Jackets.

Expect Boston to be a substantive favorite against either of those teams, meaning taking the lower seed outright on the series price would mitigate your futures position.

The Avs and Caps might be in somewhat more competitive series, which will be reflected in the series prices ahead of puck drop. In that circumstance, it might be more beneficial to take the opposition on the futures board to maximize your long-term profitability. By emulating the strategy from the play-in round, you can all but guarantee a double-digit futures ticket through the conference semifinals.

Hopefully, these are some strategies that you employ regardless of what your futures portfolio consists of. In that way, you can enjoy a profitable run through the 2020 NHL Playoffs, as they finally become a reality!