Stanley Cup Betting Odds: Avalanche Of Cash Lands On Colorado

Four Colorado Avalanche players celebrate after their team scored a goal
Image Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL drops the puck on the 2021-22 season tonight with a pair of games, one featuring the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions (Tampa Bay Lightning) and one involving the new kid on the block (Seattle Kraken) versus the new-ish kid on the block (Vegas Golden Knights).

As is the case with any sport, the dawn of a new season brings a renewed sense of optimism in all 32 NHL cities, where fans want to believe this is the year. The reality? Only a handful of clubs truly have a shot to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup come June (and then spend the summer doing untoward things with the greatest trophy in sports).

A glance at the NHL Stanley Cup odds board at PointsBet USA shows 25 percent of the league has a modest to legit shot to win it all: Eight of 32 teams have odds of +2000 or lower. Which means — barring an out-of-nowhere, Vegas Golden Knights-like Cinderella story — 75 percent of the league will be spending the next eight months doing what the late, great comedian George Carlin once described as hockey in a nutshell: ice skating, playing with a puck, and beating the crap out of each other.

Not surprisingly, the two-time reigning champs are among the top contenders — but, alas, the ’Ning aren’t the odds-on favorite. That honor goes to a squad that hasn’t gotten as far as the conference finals since their goaltender was a 36-year-old named Patrick Roy

With the initial face-off of the 2021-22 season hours away, takes a look at Stanley Cup odds and action, with an assist from PointsBet sports analyst Mike Korn.

Mile-High Expectations

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon celebrates with teammates on the bench after he scored a goal
Image Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Adjusted for a full 82-game season, the Colorado Avalanche would’ve finished with 108 and 105 points in the last two pandemic-shortened seasons. As it was, the Lanche ranked third and first, respectively, the past two years in points scored. Know what that got them? A pair of second-round playoff exits.

In fact, Colorado has reached the postseason in four consecutive years and has yet to get past the second round. So what did the Avs do in the offseason to fix that problem? They let Philipp Grubauer — their Vezina Trophy-finalist goaltender whose 1.95 goals-against average was second best in the league in 2020-21 — skate on off to the Kraken as a free agent.

Despite all this, the Stanley Cup futures market at PointsBet is incredibly bullish on Colorado. Not only are the Avs favored at +500 — slightly out front of the Lightning and Golden Knights (both +600) — but they lead in both ticket count and handle.

As much action as Korn has taken on Colorado to end a 21-year title drought, a bigger concern for the folks behind the PointsBet counter is the team Tampa Bay defeated each of the past two years to reach the Stanley Cup Final: the New York Islanders. The Isles, who at +2000 are tied with the Florida Panthers for the eighth-shortest odds, rank right behind the Avalanche in ticket count and handle.

As a result, the Islanders enter the season as PointsBet’s biggest liability. The good news for Korn and crew: You have go to back to 1983 for the last time New York got as far as the Cup Final — the same year the Islanders’ run of four consecutive championships ended at the hands of Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers.

East Could Be A Beast

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn lifts the Stanley Cup over his head in celebration
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

You don’t have to do a deep dive into PointsBet’s Stanley Cup odds board to find two distinctive storylines that already formed heading into the campaign: The Western Conference is projected to be a two-horse race between Colorado and Vegas, while the Eastern Conference appears to be much more of a wide-open battle.

After the Avs and Golden Knights, Tampa Bay tops a collection of eight straight Eastern Conference teams that fall in order down the odds list. Those squads directly behind the Lightning: the Toronto Maple Leafs (+1100), Boston Bruins (+1400), Carolina Hurricanes (+1600), Panthers and Islanders (+2000), and Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers (+2200).

Another Eastern Conference team — the Washington Capitals — is among a cluster of three Western Conference entrants (Oilers, Dallas Stars, and Minnesota Wild) that come in next at +2500.

Among this entire group, PointsBet customers have latched onto the Rangers, who rank third in handle (and as such, third in biggest liability).

One team not listed above is the Chicago Blackhawks, who have missed the playoffs three times and gone out in the first round three times since capturing the Cup in 2014-15. That recent run of futility hasn’t stopped a few bettors from grabbing a +4000 long-shot ticket on the Blackhawks, who slot between the Islanders and Rangers on PointsBet’s liability ledger.

Confidence In The Kraken

Image Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Four years ago, the Golden Knights entered the NHL, grabbed it by the throat, and rolled all the way to the Cup Final in what was the most successful expansion season in modern sports history.

Can the Kraken, with a veteran netminder in Grubauer, duplicate Vegas’ blueprint? It’s doubtful, but Korn notes that PointsBet has seen some long-shot play on Seattle at +5000 to win the Stanley Cup. Another dark horse that Korn says bettors are backing: the New Jersey Devils at +6000.

While a Kraken-Devils Stanley Cup Final would undoubtedly send the PointsBet risk room racing for the antacids — and send NHL commish Gary Bettman racing for the liquor cabinet — there are three teams that, as of this moment, would result in solid outcomes for Korn’s team: the Penguins, Hurricanes, and Maple Leafs.

Unfortunately, those outcomes are unlikely, considering the Penguins’ roster is aging, the Hurricanes haven’t won the Eastern Conference since their 2005-06 title season, and the Leafs haven’t lifted the Cup since two years before man lifted off to the moon.