The Road to the Stanley Cup
Each October, the long NHL regular season begins and doesn’t end until April. Once the season concludes, eight teams with the best records in each conference – Eastern and Western – square off in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
There are three playoff rounds on each side of the bracket, followed by the Stanley Cup Finals with the last two standing teams facing each other for hockey supremacy. Each round is played in the best-of-seven format. The first team to win four games in the series against the same opponent moves on to the next round.
Stanley Cup History
The Stanley Cup is as old as dirt, almost literally. In 1893, the trophy was first awarded to the league’s champion. It has since become one of the most iconic trophies in all of sports, right up there with the Lombardi Trophy (NFL) and the Commissioner’s Trophy (MLB).
Up until 1926, the trophy was given to the series winner between the National Hockey Association (NHA) and Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) champions. The leagues merged that year to become the National Hockey League (NHL).
The Montreal Hockey Club, which disbanded in 1932, won the Stanley Cup trophy the first four years of its existence. After the Winnipeg Victorias won the next two years, Montreal again took the cup the following five seasons.
History of Stanley Cup Winners
No team has appeared in or won more Stanley Cup Finals than the Montreal Canadiens, which is not a spinoff of the Montreal Hockey Club. It is a completely different organization.
The Canadiens have made it to the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs 34 times and the title 24 times. They first appeared in the finals in 1916 but haven’t been back since winning it all in 1993.
Since their last championship, Montreal has been stuck in neutral. They’re usually competitive and make the playoffs in most seasons but rarely run deep when it counts most. Here’s a look at the teams with the most wins and appearances in Stanley Cup Finals history.
|Detroit Red Wings
|Toronto Maple Leafs
The Vegas Golden Knights, hockey’s newest team, is one of six teams to have never won an NHL title. But the Knights, in their expansion year of 2018, made it all the way to the finals before losing to the Washington Capitals, a 44-year-old franchise that won its first title.
Recent NHL Stanley Cup Champions
Many of the old-school great franchises such as the Canadiens haven’t had as much success in recent years. Washington is the most recent team to have won a title, and did so in 2018 by defeating the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
Washington’s title ended a nine-year dominance from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Los Angeles Kings. Pittsburgh won it all three times during that era (2009, 2016, and 2017) as did Chicago (2010, 2013, and 2015), while Los Angeles pulled it off twice (2012 and 2014). The Boston Bruins interrupted their run by winning the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011.
How to Bet on the Stanley Cup Finals
Now that you have a good understanding about the excitement and history of the Stanley Cup Finals, we’re going to discuss the NHL from a bettor’s perspective. Let’s take a look at a few expert Stanley Cup betting tips on how to bet on this glorious sporting event.
Tip #1: Injuries Play a Factor
Hockey players are some of the toughest dudes alive. But the NHL season is long and grueling. When you’re handicapping a game or the entire series, take into consideration the health of each team. Search the internet, listen to podcasts and coach interviews, to get a feel for how healthy each team is. Coaches don’t like to disclose specifics about injuries too much but you can find out which players are healthy and which aren’t if you snoop around.
Tip #2: You’ll Get Better Odds on a Futures Bet
We’re going to discuss the different types of wagers in the next section. But for now, a piece of advice we have to give is to consider betting on the series outcome as a whole instead of each individual game during the series. The reason we suggest that is because you’ll most likely get better odds which means a larger payout if you win.
Tip #3: Don’t Bet Just to Bet
If you can’t find good odds on a Stanley Cup Finals game, don’t waste your money. We know it’s the end of the season and you want action, but if the value isn’t there, save your cash. The great thing about hockey is the next season is only a few months away.
Stanley Cup Betting Lines and Odds
Before placing a bet, you have to know what exactly it is you’re betting on and what kind of odds you’re getting. That’s what we’re here for.
Moneyline: This one is simple to understand. You’re betting on a team to win the contest outright, straight up, or whatever you want to call it. Your online sportsbook will give you odds on a moneyline bet for both teams. The favorite is listed with a – symbol and the underdog has a + symbol by the odds. For example:
In this example, Vegas is favored and it would require a bettor to put down $205 to profit $100. On the flip side, a $100 wager on Washington would pay $220 for a $120 profit. You will always have to risk more to win more on a favorite and risk less to win more on an underdog, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the best value is on the underdog. It depends on how you handicap the game.
Puck Lines: Similar to MLB runlines, the puck line is a point spread element but with a moneyline still attached to the bet. The difference here is the favorite typically becomes the underdog to cover because that team must win by more than one goal, in most cases. Let’s take a look at an example of the switch.
Boston Bruins -140 (moneyline)
Montreal Canadiens +120
Boston Bruins -1.5 (+160)
Montreal Canadiens (-180)
The Bruins are still favored to win the game outright, but are considered an underdog to win by at least two goals which is required if you bet Boston on the puck line.
Over/Unders: The over/under is simply a bet on how many goals will be scored in the game between the two teams. Over/unders typically have -105 odds, so a $105 bet would net a $100 profit.
Futures: As we discussed in the earlier section, you can bet on the outcome of the Stanley Cup Finals at the start. This works like a single-game moneyline wager except you’re betting on the entire series, not just one game. You can also place a futures wager on the Stanley Cup champion before or during the regular season and playoffs.