NHL Conference Finals Wagering Preview: Avalanche Still The Team To Beat

Colorado now +120 to win Stanley Cup as Tampa vies for hat trick

And then there were four.

The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs concluded Monday night with the New York Rangers skating to a 6-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes to win their best-of-seven series. Now the Rangers will square off with the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lighting, while the Edmonton Oilers do battle with the Colorado Avalanche.

Here are the latest Stanley Cup outright odds heading into the conference finals:

  • Colorado +120
  • Tampa +230
  • New York Rangers +500
  • Edmonton +550


All odds in this article courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook & Casino.

Western Conference Finals — Edmonton Oilers vs. Colorado Avalanche

Series price: Edmonton (+195), Colorado (-240)

Game 1 odds: Edmonton (+152) @ Colorado (-184), o/u 7 goals

Head-to-head: Colorado took two of three regular season meetings between the clubs, but both of those victories came via shootout. The Oilers won 6-3 in the last meeting on April 22 in Edmonton.

This will be the third time the Avalanche and Oilers have met in the postseason. Colorado won in five games in the 1997 conference semifinals, and Edmonton won in seven games in the conference quarterfinals in 1998.

About the Oilers: The Oilers had the seventh-longest Stanley Cup odds (+1600) back when the playoffs started in early May, but now Edmonton’s odds have shortened to +550 heading into the third round. The Oilers (with a +160 series price) surprisingly made short work of their provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames, in five games to advance to the conference finals and earn a date with the Avalanche.

Edmonton is averaging an NHL-best 4.33 goals per game in the playoffs and has scored at least four goals in eight of its last 12 games, and at least five goals in six. However, despite the goal frenzy, the Oilers have only posted a 7-5 over/under record through their first 12 playoff games.

Goaltender Mike Smith’s Jekyll-and-Hyde act this postseason has been good enough to this point, but Edmonton will be seeking more consistency from its 40-year-old netminder. Smith was pulled from Game 1 of the team’s second-round series with Calgary after allowing three goals on 10 shots, but his numbers — 8-3 with a 2.70 goals-against average, .927 save percentage, and two shutouts — are respectable overall despite a few questionable games.

Oilers player to watch: Evander Kane leads the team with 12 goals this postseason and boasts an outstanding 23.5% shooting percentage, but there’s no question Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid have also been doing some heavy lifting offensively for the Oilers. Both skaters have seven goals and 19 assists in 12 playoff games. With McDavid on the ice, Edmonton has outscored opponents 38-11, and McDavid has earned a point on 68% of those goals.


About the Avalanche: The Avalanche were the Stanley Cup favorites (+320) at the onset of the playoffs and haven’t wavered since. Colorado knocked off the St. Louis Blues in six games in round two after sweeping the Nashville Predators in the opening round.

The Avalanche are getting contributions from all over their roster: In the second round, 17 Colorado skaters recorded at least a point and 14 recorded multi-point efforts. The team’s 34.5 power-play percentage in the playoffs is the best in the NHL.

Colorado, which converted on power plays at a 24% clip during the regular season, is an incredible 10-for-29 with the man-advantage in the playoffs to this point. However, its 73.1 penalty-kill percentage is the lowest of the four teams still remaining.

Avalanche player to watch: Nathan MacKinnon has been outstanding, recording 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 10 playoff games, including netting a hat trick in Game 5 of the team’s series with the Blues. With its leading center on the ice, Colorado has outscored opponents 20-6 this postseason, and MacKinnon has earned a point on 65% of those goals. Additionally, he had three goals and two assists in three games against Edmonton during the regular season.

Sports betting stats:

  • The favorite is 6-0 in the last six meetings.
  • The home team is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
  • The over is 4-1 in Edmonton’s last five games overall.
  • The over is 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings in Colorado.

Eastern Conference Finals — Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers

Series price: Tampa Bay (-190), New York (+160)

Game 1 odds: Tampa Bay (-125) @ New York (+104), o/u 5.5 goals

Head-to-head: New York won all three regular season meetings, outscoring Tampa by a combined score of 9-4. Two of the three games played under the total.

About the Rangers: The Rangers opened with long +1700 Stanley Cup futures odds at the start of the postseason, but they’ve moved all the way to +500 after the team eliminated the Hurricanes on Monday night. New York required the full seven games in each of its first two series, so fatigue could be a factor moving forward.

The Rangers have stayed alive thanks to their special teams and timely goaltending from Igor Shesterkin, who is  8-5 with a 2.68 GAA and .928 save percentage in 14 starts this postseason. His 9.9 goals saved above expected ranks only behind Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy. He also has three assists this postseason and a dynamite record against the Lightning.

Rangers player to watch: Mika Zibanejad leads New York with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in the playoffs, while defenseman Adam Fox is second with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists).

About the Lightning: After a grueling seven-game series with the Toronto Maple Leafs that went down to the wire, Tampa quickly dispatched the Florida Panthers in four straight games in the second round. The Lightning have won 10 straight playoff series and are trying to become the first team to win the Stanley Cup in three straight seasons since the New York Islanders won it four straight times from 1980-83.

Vasilevskiy appears to be rounding back into elite form, as his 8-3 record with a 2.22 GAA and .932 save percentage suggest. The impending goaltending battle with fellow Russian Shesterkin is the major storyline entering the series.

“He’s the best goalie in the world right now,” Shesterkin said of Vasilevskiy. “I think it will be a good battle. We will try to do all the best to try to score on him.”

Lightning player to watch: Nikita Kucherov leads Tampa Bay with 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) this postseason. Forward Brayden Point, who suffered a leg injury in Game 7 of Tampa’s opening series with Toronto, appears to be progressing well and could return at some point during the series. Point has four points (two goals, two assists) in seven playoff games this year and he led the NHL in playoff goals the past two seasons, scoring 14 in each to help the Lightning win back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Sports betting stats:

  • The Lightning have won six straight games.
  • Tampa has played under the total in five straight games.
  • The underdog is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
  • The over is 4-0 in New York’s last four games as a home underdog.

Photo: Perry Nelson/USA TODAY


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