NHL playoffs odds and bracket

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How do the NHL playoffs work?

The NHL playoffs has four rounds in total, featuring 16 different teams - eight from the Eastern Conference and eight from the Western Conference. The top three teams from each of the four divisions automatically qualify (12 in total and six per conference). The remaining four teams are referred to as ‘wild card teams’ - two wild card teams make the playoffs from each conference.

The division winner with the better record in each conference faces off against the lower-seeded wild card team in the first round. For example, if the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Atlantic Division and the Washington Capitals win the Metropolitan Division, the team with the better overall record of the two would face the second-seeded wild card team. Naturally, the division winner with the lesser overall record of the two would face the first-seeded wild card team. The second and third place finishers in each division would also face off in the first round.

Since 16 different teams make the playoffs, there are eight total playoff series in the first round, which adds up to a lot of potential betting opportunities. The winner of each series advances to the second round and the four second round winners then advance to the Conference Finals, for the chance to reach the Stanley Cup.

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NHL conference winners

The Conference Finals refer to the third round of the NHL playoffs. At this point, only two teams from each conference remain (four in total). The remaining two from each conference play a seven-game series to determine who will compete for the Stanley Cup.

The winner of each Conference Finals is in fact deemed the best team in the conference, regardless of how the regular season standings ended. When placing an NHL futures bet on the best team in the conference, make sure the differentiation between winning the conference (the regular season) and winning the Conference Finals (the playoffs) is clear before making the wager.

Every team in the Conference Finals will be very good, considering what it takes to make it that far. As such, it’s important to compare odds, look at the form of the teams as they approached the playoffs, and keep an eye on important news coming from all the camps.

Most bettors opt to wager on the favorite in each series, but the volatility of the NHL playoffs is like no other sport. Odds for the underdog could provide great value, and if they end up winning, the payout will normally indicate that too.

Hockey_NHL_Seattle Kraken forward Jared McCann and Winnipeg Jets goalie Eric Comrie
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What are NHL playoffs standings?

The NHL playoffs may be what ultimately matters, but the regular season plays a very important role in determining the seeding for them. For example, only the top two teams in each division are awarded home-ice advantage in the first round. The disparity between the second and third place team in any given division is often slim, meaning the difference between gaining or not gaining this huge advantage can come down to just a handful of points.

Some teams get an even shorter end-of-the-stick and may only finish in a wildcard spot despite a strong season, due to the competitive nature of their specific division. Once the NHL playoffs begins, the standings are portrayed in bracket form, similar to most major league sports.

In past NHL playoffs, re-seeding has taken place after each round, meaning that the highest-seeded team remaining was ensured a second-round matchup with the current lowest-seeded team. Now that rule is gone, meaning that a team will simply go on to face the winner of the adjacent playoff bracket. For example, if the second seed knocks off the seventh seed in the first round, but the eighth seed of that conference knocks off the top team to advance to the second round, the second seed is not guaranteed to matchup against the eighth seed in the second round.

NHL playoffs FAQs

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BET.CA staff
BET.CA staff