The 2020 Stanley Cup begins in early August, after the training camps opened in July.
Although the NHL announced 26 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 8, the commissioner Gary Bettman is pretty sure that pandemic won’t jeopardize the postseason. The vast majority of NHL betting sites have subsequently updated the 2020 Stanley Cup winner odds.
In case you didn’t know, the 2020 Stanley Cup will be one of a kind with 24 teams competing for the trophy. While the worst seven clubs in the league are eliminated, a couple of hub cities will combine to host 24 playoff teams.
The playoffs start with the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. The best four teams in each conference will play a round-robin tournament to determine the seeds, while the remaining 16 teams will play eight best-of-five series. The winners will meet those top clubs in the official first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup.
Now, let’s move on to my Stanley Cup predictions for 2020, starting with the latest odds.
2020 Stanley Cup Winner Odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+500|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+600|
|St. Louis Blues||+900|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+2500|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+3300|
|New York Rangers||+4000|
|New York Islanders||+4000|
Many say that hockey is a game of luck which makes it very difficult to predict. I completely agree that hockey is one of the toughest sports for the bettors, but claiming that hockey is a game of luck is blasphemy.
The case is pretty simple – hockey is one of the fastest sports in the world, so tactics are not that important as in some other sports like soccer, football, tennis, or basketball. It all comes down to players’ strength, composure and anticipation.
Furthermore, the NHL is the strongest professional league on the planet. Even the worst NHL teams have some top-notch players capable of beating the toughest sides in the league. Therefore, the NHL season is full of surprises and unexpected outcomes. That’s the nature of this game.
Now, while hockey games are tough to predict, the 2020 Stanley Cup will be even tougher, considering the current health situation and a five-month willy-nilly break. The bettors cannot lean on the current form because there isn’t one.
The 2020 Stanley Cup will be a huge test for the sports bettors who certainly remember Tampa Bay’s first-round exit in 2019. And that’s just the last of many upsets over the years. Predicting the 2020 Stanley Cup winner is an extremely tough job.
On the other side, it’s very interesting, especially for hockey fans, while the odds are quite tempting even on the strongest contenders.
Big Guns in the East
The Boston Bruins finished the regular season atop of the league with 100 points out of 70 games (44-26-12), six points ahead of the reigning champs, St. Louis Blues, and eight points ahead of their closest rival in the east, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Interestingly, the Bruins earned exactly 22 home and away wins, while the Lightning tallied 22 home victories and 21 on the road. They won’t miss support from the stands, as well as the Washington Capitals who went 23-13-3 away from home this past regular season.
On the other side, the Philadelphia Flyers (25-10-4 at home) and Pittsburgh Penguins (23-12-4) were dominant on the home ice. The Columbus Blue Jackets went 13-21-11 on the road, while the Montreal Canadiens had a terrible 14-23-6 home record.
Hereof, I think playing in the hub cities favors the heavyweights. The Bruins have been consistent for most of the season. Since January 21, they’ve recorded 16 wins in 20 appearances. The Lightning have dropped seven of their last 10 games, but they’ve been playing in a tremendous form back in January and the first half of February.
Both Bruins and Lightning have some brilliant players on the roster, so I’m not surprised to see them atop of the bookies’ list at +500 to win the title. The Capitals are way back at the sixth spot with the odds at +1200, as well as the Flyers.
These four teams will play against each other in the qualifiers. Each side will have three games to gel the things and get ready for the first round of the playoffs. From this point of view, I’m backing the Bruins and Lightning to easily reach the second round, but anything beyond that point is a massive risk.
A Mess in the West
The Vegas Golden Knights finished the regular season atop of the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference, eight points behind the St. Louis Blues, and six behind the Colorado Avalanche. However, the Golden Knights are the strongest fave to win the Western Conference at +250.
I don’t get it even though the Golden Knights have won 11 of their last 13 contests. That was months ago, and I don’t see why the bookmakers fancy Vegas over St. Louis and Colorado. The Golden Knights have defeated the Blues in two of their three encounters, but they’ve lost both meetings with the Avs 6-1 and 7-3.
While I’m pretty sure that one of the top-four teams in the east will make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, the situation in the west seems quite dimly. Both Blues and Avs have had a solid regular season. Colorado went 24-13-2 away from home but still finished two points behind the reigning champs.
The Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks could be potential dark horses, as both sides possess tremendous talent upfront. Only the Avalanche (237) scored more goals than the Canucks (228), while the Oilers scored 225 and went 37-34-9 to finish just three points behind the Golden Knights.
The Arizona Coyotes, on the other side, had the second-best defense in the Western Conference. They allowed 10 goals more than the Dallas Stars, and these two teams can make some serious noise in the playoffs.
2020 Stanley Cup Finals – Betting Pick and Predictions
I have to go with the Bruins in the Eastern Conference. They’ve allowed the fewest goals in the league, and Tuukka Rask is probably the best goalie in hockey at the moment. Also, the Bruins’ offense is loaded, so I expect them to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight year, despite losing three of their four meetings with Tampa Bay and two of their three contests against Washington.
I’m backing the Bruins at +500 to win it all, too, but that comes from my hypothesis that Boston and Tampa Bay are stronger than any team in the Western Conference. It doesn’t mean we won’t see a great battle in the west. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dallas or Arizona in the conference finals, and I won’t go with the Golden Knights or Blues to win the conference title.
Finally, you have to keep in mind that seeders will be determined in the qualifiers, making this future bet even harder than it’s usual. Also, after the first round, the seeders aren’t determined by a bracket. The highest remaining seed meets the lowest remaining seed in each conference, making the 2020 Stanley Cup a complete madness.