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As hockey fans know, the Stanley Cup playoffs are one of the most thrilling events on the yearly sports calendar. While Florida may not seem like a great fit for the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning have built themselves into a standard for the rest of the league to follow. Further south, the Florida Panthers have even had their moments here and there.
If you’re not a fan of hockey just yet, legal sports betting might get you to climb over the boards faster than the next Lightning shift change. In states where it’s legal, you can bet on daily NHL odds all season long and, of course, that includes the Stanley Cup playoffs.
If you’re a casual NHL betting fan or newbie, here’s how to get your bets straight for the Stanley Cup.
The NHL futures market lets you place a bet on the next Stanley Cup winner nearly all year, and you can also bet on each game individually once the playoffs get underway. Check the live Stanley Cup odds feed below. If you see odds to win the Stanley Cup you like, you can click on them to go to that sportsbook and start making your bets.
The two local NHL teams will likely be big attractions at Florida sportsbooks. So can the Lightning pull off a three-peat? Are things looking up for the Panthers? The futures market has some answers. Below, you’ll find the real-time Stanley Cup betting odds on the local squads to make some noise this season.
All season long, legal online sportsbooks in Florida will update their available Stanley Cup futures odds. You lock in your odds at the time you make your bet. Once the Stanley Cup Final starts, you’ll be able to bet on games, teams and players in all of the usual ways, but some different options also emerge for the postseason. Here’s a run through of all of the main ways to bet:
Place your bets on the total combined goals in the game. Oddsmakers set the bar, which is typically in the range of 5.0 to 6.5 for the NHL. An example of a totals bet on the Lightning vs. Panthers you might get at HardRock Sportsbook is a follows:
Additional pregame bets that you can find by clicking on the main game listing. Many depend on individual player stats.
Total points for Nikita Kucherov
Bet in real time as an individual game plays out. It’s a fast-moving market with updated game lines and many prop-type wagers.
Who will have more shots on goal in period two?
During the early rounds of the playoffs, there are plenty of nights with multiple games. That makes for a great time to take a shot with parlays — bets in which you include two or more picks on one slip. Returns can be great, but they’re also high-risk, as one wrong choice means you win nothing.
Once the playoff field is ready, you can bet on the winners of the individual series. There are straight bets on which side will advance that look just like a standard moneyline bet, and others that provide a range of choices to consider:
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers series winners (best of seven)
If you want to bet on the Stanley Cup playoffs, you’re going to need a place to play. Legal sportsbooks are the place to go. With more and more states legalizing sports betting, there’s simply no valid reason for taking a risk with an unregulated or offshore sportsbook. You can create an account at a legal sportsbook in mere minutes by following these steps:
The registration process is simple and takes just a few minutes. You’ll need to provide some basic info and confirm your identity to proceed. Once complete, you’ll have access to a legal and safe sportsbook where you can bet on the Stanley Cup playoffs.
See the full house rules for NHL betting at Florida online sportsbooks.
These are bets that stay active for much of the year. NHL betting lines and odds will come out in the offseason and shift as the season plays out. The live odds feed above will show a variety of these options. Here are some of the most popular NHL futures bets in addition to the next Stanley Cup winner:
If you start with futures, stay active during the regular season, and keep on rolling through the playoffs, you’ll be able to place a variety of NHL bets all year long. While always entertaining, the action intensifies at the betting window for the Stanley Cup playoffs, just as it does for the players on the ice.
Since the 1979-80 NHL season, the Stanley Cup playoffs have included 16 teams. There have been some changes to the overall structure through the years, but it has generally boiled down to eight teams from each conference qualifying.
The postseason field will be a bracket, with teams receiving seeds based on their regular season records. Once the first-round pairings are set, the playoffs get underway.
The team with the best regular season record in each conference has home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, followed by the team with the next best record in the bracket, and so on. Tiebreakers include the total number of regulation wins.
In recent seasons, we’ve seen some interesting innovations on a trial basis. For 2019-20, there was a play-in tournament to reach the playoffs, so 12 teams in each conference kept playing after the regular season was over.
The 2020-21 season saw the NHL tweak its divisions and base the postseason around divisional play, with the survivors advancing to the conference finals. We’ll have to wait and see if any of these changes become permanent moving forward.
The NHL officially came to the Sunshine State in the 1992-93 season when the Tampa Bay Lightning debuted. The following year, the Florida Panthers joined the fold. Both teams had some growing pains, just like any other expansion club.
In the years since, we have seen a number of memorable moments in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the local teams. Here are the ones that really stand out:
The Panthers achieved liftoff in just their third season of action. After racking up 92 points in the regular season, the team surprised the NHL world with wins over the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers in the first two rounds to get to the conference finals. Florida then pulled off an absolute stunner, knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games to reach the Stanley Cup Final. The Colorado Avalanche promptly swept the Panthers in the finals, but this postseason run was one for the books.
From their debut season of 1992-93 through 2001-02, the Lightning made it to the playoffs just one time. Things began to turn around in 2002-03, setting the stage for the club’s first run to glory the following year. Tampa Bay needed just nine games to advance to the conference finals, where the team took down the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games. Up next was a thrilling Stanley Cup Final win over the Calgary Flames, another series that went the distance.
This was the year when the two Florida squads finally crossed paths in the NHL playoffs. The Panthers closed out the season with 79 points, just ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning at 75 points. The clubs met in the first round. Tampa Bay got out to a 2-0 series lead, but Florida showed some life with a 6-5 overtime win in game three. The Lightning managed to close things out with a 4-0 win in game six to continue their quest for another cup.
After a tough series with the Panthers, the Lightning took care of the Carolina Hurricanes in five games in round two. Next was an epic seven-game series with the New York Islanders that closed out with a 1-0 victory for Tampa Bay. It was back to the finals to face off with the surprising Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning, however, just wouldn’t be denied in the repeat bid, closing out the series in five games for a second title in a row and third overall.
There are lots of theories out there on the best ways to bet on the NHL. For those new to the game, perhaps the best starting advice is to learn what you can while focusing on what really matters in terms of results.
Come playoff time, there are other factors that may enter into the equation. The most important one to pay attention to is this:
To further drive that point home, let’s consider the NHL Presidents’ Trophy, which has gone to the team with the most regular season points every year since the 1985-86 campaign.
Since its debut, there have been 35 winners. Just eight of them have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. It’s not all bad news, as 11 have at least made it as far as the final round, but you get the gist.
When examining the field, pay extra attention to which teams look like they may be built for the postseason. Recent playoff success can be a solid indicator to pay attention to. As with any other bet, there’s no way to be right every time, but you can put yourself in a position to make the best possible decisions each time you wager.