NHL Qualifying Round Odds
As we wind closer to a potential return to the ice next month for the National Hockey League, the postseason is starting to crystallize into focus. We know the 24 teams that will take part in the postseason. In addition, we know which eight teams will battle in a round-robin tournament to determine seeding for the regular 16-team field once we get past the qualifying round. We also know which teams will take the ice against each other in the qualifying round in an effort to advance to the more normal 16-team field that we’re used to seeing come playoff time.
Earlier today, we gave you a look at what the current odds are for each team in the field to win the Stanley Cup. There was also the point of comparison of what their odds were back on March 2, roughly 10 days before the league was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we can take a look at the odds that are given for each team participating in the qualifying round, as it’s being termed, to win their respective best of five series and advance to the normal field of 16 that everyone is used to seeing come playoff time.
#5 Pittsburgh Penguins (-205) vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens (+166)
The Penguins took two of the three meetings this season, winning one of them in overtime. All three games went under the total by at least one goal when all was said and done. Montreal scored four goals in their lone win and a total of three goals in their two losses. In the standings, Pittsburgh finished with 86 points to Montreal’s 71.
#6 Carolina Hurricanes (-136) vs. #11 New York Rangers (+112)
This one is likely closer than you might have thought given the way the teams played most of the season. The Rangers got hot in the second half of the season to charge back into the playoff race and owned the Hurricanes in the regular season. New York was 4-0-0 in the series, winning three of the games by multiple goals en route to a 17-9 advantage in goals. Carolina finished with 81 points in the standings while the Rangers had 79.
#7 New York Islanders (-120) vs. #10 Florida Panthers (+102)
The Islanders cratered heading into the pause as they were just 2-7-4 in their last 13 games as their offense dried up. New York was blanked three times in that span and was held to two goals or less nine times. Florida has offensive weaponry but Sergei Bobrovsky has to be better in the postseason than he was most of his first year with the Panthers. These teams stayed under the total in all three meetings with neither team scoring more than three goals in any contest. The Islanders finished the year with 80 points while the Panthers posted 78 in the regular season.
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs (-166) vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets (+136)
Both teams are going to be in much better shape health wise once the series starts than the would have been in back in April. Toronto should have Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly at full strength in addition to Ilya Mikheyev, who had ligaments in his wrist damaged back in December in a game against New Jersey. Columbus should have Seth Jones back on the blueline, along with a group of forwards and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. The Leafs went 1-0-1 in the head to head meetings this season, winning 4-1 and falling 4-3 in overtime. Both teams had 81 points though the Leafs had a better mark at 36-25-9 to Columbus’ 33-22-15.
#5 Edmonton Oilers (-164) vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks (+134)
Edmonton has the dynamic duo of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid to anchor their offensive attack. The Oilers have to get their goaltending to stand up, especially as Chicago is no slouch. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are a powerhouse duo of their own and they have experience in the form of Stanley Cup rings on their side. Both teams have work to do defensively and this one could be a wide-open series. The Blackhawks took two of three meetings this season with two games going over the mark. Edmonton ended the regular season with 83 points while Chicago posted 72.
#6 Nashville Predators (-134) vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes (+110)
Nashville muddled along despite a subpar season from Pekka Rinne to hang in the Central Division race. Juuse Saros could be a big factor in a short series should Rinne struggle at any point. Arizona is an extremely stingy defensive team with excellent goaltending. Playing against Nashville in some ways is like facing a mirror image. The Coyotes should have Antti Raanta healthy and ready to go, which could be a major benefit for Arizona, especially in a short set. Nashville recorded 78 points in the regular season to Arizona’s 74. The teams split two meetings this season.
#7 Vancouver Canucks (-136) vs. #10 Minnesota Wild (+112)
Vancouver jostled for the top spot in the Pacific Division most of the year before Vegas got hot and ended up claiming the penthouse. The Canucks like to push the tempo and are an aggressive offensive team but they need some work in their own end of the ice. Minnesota was stuck in a logjam in the Central Division and had to battle to avoid the cellar as things were that tough. The Wild won two of the three meetings this season, one of which by shootout. Vancouver finished the regular season with 78 points while Minnesota finished with 77.
#8 Calgary Flames (-116) vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets (-106)
In one of those matchups where the lower-seeded team finished with more points than the higher-seeded one, the Flames have their work cut out for them. Calgary was underwhelming for most of the season but they have a chance to make up for that here. Winnipeg has a great top six group at forward that can keep them in games but they have to find a way to help Connor Hellebuyck in their own zone. These teams met only once in the regular season with Winnipeg taking a 2-1 win back in October. They were slated to meet twice more in the remaining stretch of regular season games before it was scrapped. Calgary ended the year with 79 points while Winnipeg had 80.
We’ll start getting into individual matchups in the coming days, so stay tuned for those breakdowns.