This page will look at the live odds for the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with our best NHL betting picks for each day. We’ll also review the best NHL betting apps and what each has to offer hockey bettors.
Odds are subject to change after picks are published.
NHL Best Bets for Saturday, May 15
Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals – Game 1 (7:15 p.m. ET)
The Capitals head into the playoffs with multiple injury concerns. D John Carlson (lower body) is probable and RW T.J. Oshie (lower body) is questionable, while G Ilya Samsonov and C Evgeny Kuznetsov are on the COVID-19 protocol list. If Samsonov sits, Caps rookie G Vitek Vanecek would make his first playoff appearance.
Boston’s main injury concern for Game 1 is C Charlie Coyle (undisclosed), who’s probable. The Bruins are favored on the series line and have better odds to win the Stanley Cup than the Capitals at +1000 to +1800 (at DraftKings Sportsbook), despite being the lower seed and road team. Trust in those lines and maximize value in Game 1 by betting the Bruins to win in regulation with the unproven Vanecek or Samsonov likely to struggle under late-game pressure.
The health concerns for the home side should also result in a lower-scoring game.
The Pick: Bruins 60 Minute Line (+130 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Secondary Pick: Under 5.5 goals
NHL Best Bets for Sunday, May 16
New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 1 (12 p.m. ET)
The Penguins won their regular-season series with the Islanders 6-2-0 but are just slight favorites on the Game 1 and series lines. The books are expecting this to be the tightest series of Round 1, and the Islanders should be expected to start strong.
Penguins D Mike Matheson (face) is probable while both G Tristan Jarry (upper body) and G Casey DeSmith (lower body) are questionable. While at least one goalie is likely to dress and start, both missed the regular-season finale. Jarry started just one playoff game last year and stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced in a loss; DeSmith has never appeared in the playoffs.
Look for the Islanders to strike quickly and win the first period against an inexperienced goaltender after their trip to the Eastern Conference Final last summer.
The Pick: Islanders 1st Period moneyline (+102 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Secondary Pick: Goal scored 0:00-9:59 (-130 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Minnesota Wild at Vegas Golden Knights – Game 1 (3 p.m. ET)
The Golden Knights are the biggest favorites on this week’s playoff slate. They’re also the fourth biggest favorites by the Round 1 series odds in this West Division 2-3 matchup.
Vegas is in the playoffs for the fourth straight season after the young franchise’s second trip to the Western Conference Final last summer. The Knights have played a total of 47 playoff games the last three years. The Wild are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017-18; they haven’t won a series since 2014-15 with a total of four playoff wins over their last three trips.
Minnesota won this season series 5-1-2, but side with the Knights’ extensive playoff experience in the series opener on home ice. Veteran G Marc-Andre Fleury should also be trusted to shut down a Wild offense led by rookie W Kirill Kaprizov.
The Pick: Golden Knights -1.5 goals
Secondary Pick: Away team total goals Under 2.5 (-120 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers – Game 1 (7:30 p.m. ET)
The Lightning are Game 1 and Round 1 favorites despite being the third seed in the Central Division. They also have the fifth-best odds of all teams to win the Stanley Cup at +800. The Panthers went 8-2-0 over their final 10 games to move into second place while the Bolts went 6-3-1.
That was the regular season and these are the playoffs. Lightning C Steven Stamkos (lower body), D Victor Hedman (lower body) and RW Nikita Kucherov (hip) are all probable for Sunday’s game and all are well-rested after staying out of the lineup for the conclusion of the regular season. The 2019-20 Stanley Cup champs are well-positioned to run it back.
Due to the “uncertainty” regarding the Lightning’s three biggest stars, we’re getting the best value for the Lightning we’ll see all series in Game 1. Take the plus money and run with the Game 1/Series Double at FanDuel.
The Pick: Lightning moneyline
Secondary Pick: Lightning/Lightning Game 1/Series Double (+145 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Live NHL betting odds (May 15, 2021)
Best NHL betting apps
DraftKings expanded from Daily Fantasy Sports to become the No. 1 rated app in US sports betting. Bets can be placed (and won) in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, with more to follow suit upon state legalization. There are more than 10 million registered users with $7 billion in winnings paid out.
They offer a sign-up bonus up to $1,000 upon a user’s first deposit. The money is awarded as a risk-free bet and deposit bonus matching 20% of an initial deposit up to $2,500. Bets can be placed on all major sports such as football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, soccer, MMA, and more. Betting markets include the standard game lines of moneylines, spreads, and totals, while they also offer many creative player and team props and futures. Their Stats Hub allows users to get a quick feel for the odds and lines before placing a live in-game wager.
Pools allow users to bet on large groups of games from across sports and get points for correct selections. Many are free and are an easy transition from DFS as users compete against each other for the most correct picks. Missions reward users for completing tasks and betting more. Odds boosts offer more enticing and more profitable odds on marquee bets.
Those outside of legal jurisdictions can always stick to DFS. The single-day action will be the best way to get involved in Fantasy Hockey this postseason. DraftKings’ “one wallet” feature allows users to play DFS and bet on DraftKings Sportsbook from the same account, where legal.
Like DraftKings, FanDuel has made a seamless transition from the realm of Daily Fantasy Sports into sports betting. FanDuel Sportsbook is licensed and operating in Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. DFS excludes only Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, and Washington.
New sportsbook customers can sign up for a risk-free first bet of up to $500 in site credit if you lose. They also offer many other promos depending on the sport or event you’re betting. Odds boosts are a great way to get action on your favorite team, golfer, or fighter at a more profitable number. Multi-Sport Parlay Insurance still rewards bettors who get most of the picks on their slip correct.
They offer almost all of the same betting markets as DK Sportsbook while slight variance in the odds and lines allows bettors with multiple accounts to go shopping (more on this later). They recently announced an exclusive content partnership with former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee whereby they offer special promotions and odds boosts created by him.
BetMGM has branched out from the standard retail and online casino games to offer online sports betting in Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia. They have partnerships with MLB, the NBA, NHL, MLS, and WNBA.
They offer many of the same betting options as DK and FD Sportsbooks. Their Multi-Sport Parlay Boosts allow users to earn up to 40 percent more on parlays when opting in. New users also get up to a $500 risk-free first bet. Special promotions centered around specific events reward bettors for specified outcomes or statistical totals in the game.
How to bet on the NHL and win
Moneyline picks: Moneyline picks require bettors to pick one team to beat the other outright. In the modified and unique 24-team playoff format, lines are likely to be conservatively set and range from -200 for a favorite to +200 for an underdog, though they could extend in either direction if a team were to take a 2-0 or 3-0 series lead. A $10 bet on a team to win at -200 would return a profit of just $5. The same wager on a +200 dog would fetch a profit of $20. Pick ‘ems will see odds set at -105 or -110 for both teams in tight matchups.
Three-way lines can be set for just regulation time and include the option of a tie at higher odds. Two-way lines including the overtime result are much more common.
Puck line picks: Puck lines are a much better way to get action on more lopsided matchups, especially when looking to bet the favorite. Usually set at +/- 1.5 goals, the handicap line asks for the favorite to win by two or more goals while requiring the underdog to lose by no more than a single tally. Odds are typically equal on both sides of the line but can range from -120 to +120 for profits of $8.33 or $12, respectively, on a $10 bet.
Total (Over/Under) picks: Similarly to puck lines, lines are set for how many goals the two teams will combine to score in the game. Totals are often set at 5.5 or 6.5 goals with odds generally at -110 on both sides, but they can move to reflect the most likely result or to steer public betting action. Lines can also be set for each team or period individually.
Alternate lines: Alternate lines allow bettors to get more profitable odds while taking on more risk with a higher or lower spread or goal total. They can also offer some insurance with lower odds when looking for a safer play.
Prop bets: Bettors can get action on individual teams or players in each game via props. Over/Under lines will be set for how many goals, points, shots, or hits marquee skaters will record, or how many saves a goalie will make. They can also pit players against each other for the highest point, shot, or save total in a game. Players can be pooled together to score the first goal of a game or to record the most of a specified stat.
Parlays: Parlays will be common in these hectic, multi-game playoff slates. Combine multiple bet types from the same game or multiple different games in order to get higher, more profitable odds. The more bet types included in the parlay the more difficult it becomes to win, as all bets need to play out correctly for the entire ticket to cash.
Futures: Many hockey bettors will still have live futures wagers on teams to win their conference or the Stanley Cup. Player futures exist for each of the major end-of-season awards or to lead the NHL in certain stats. These odds have been adjusted throughout the season to reflect current favorites and underdogs, and the public betting action on the most popular teams.
Futures can carry the highest and most profitable odds of any bet type, especially when getting action on opening odds as far out as possible from the bet being decided. Early-season Stanley Cup odds can range from +500 to +10000 or higher for longshots. Odds will shift to reflect the standings, current winning and losing streaks, player injuries, or advanced analytics.
Live betting: The rise in popularity of mobile betting has improved the experience of live betting at major sportsbooks. Get action once games have started by betting a live line which continuously shifts to reflect the current score of a game or most recent events such as penalties or injuries. It can often be a profitable play to place an in-game wager on a pre-game favorite should they fall down by a goal early on and switch to plus-money underdogs.
NHL betting strategies
Line monitoring: Much like tracking futures odds, one of the biggest keys to single-game betting is to monitor the lines throughout the day. Note the opening numbers for the moneyline, puck line, and total and be ready to jump in once the lines begin to shift in a certain direction and odds rise to a more profitable number.
This can be known as “fading the public.” The sportsbooks know what they’re doing when they release the opening odds. Sticking to those numbers once the odds have strayed too far away is often the best play.
Advanced statistics and how to use them: Advanced statistics such as Corsi and Scoring Chances per 60 minutes allow bettors to better predict results over the longterm vs. simple base stats such as shots, goals, and win-loss records. Corsi looks at how well teams control the puck by measuring their total shot attempts, not just those that hit the net.
Stats can be broken down by situation to look at even-strength (5v5) rates, and power-play and penalty-kill performance. A team mired in a losing skid but still continuously outshooting their opponents at 5v5 is likely suffering from poor puck luck or bad goaltending and will become a good betting target when offered plus-money.
Line shopping: As noted above, all bettors should have accounts at multiple sportsbooks and look around for the most profitable odds once they’ve decided on their daily picks. If you’ve decided the Columbus Blue Jackets will upset the Toronto Maple Leafs in their qualification round series, they should be bet at DraftKings’ +140 odds rather than FanDuel’s +136. A $10 wager would return a profit of $14 at DK but just $13.60 at FD.
Situational betting: The 2019-20 NHL playoffs will remove many of the inherent advantages in hockey by playing games in fan-less neutral arenas. Still, the designated home teams will receive tactical edges in final line changes. Playoff scheduling also generally removes advantages within the same series, but if a team has a long wait in between rounds while their upcoming opponent goes the distance in a hard-fought series, they can recover from injuries or get rusty in their time off.
Tracking injuries and COVID-19-related health news will be important this postseason. Players could be ruled inactive on shorter notice than generally seen in hockey. Be on top of the updates and go look at the lines for potential value once word surfaces of a player potentially being sidelined in case the books haven’t yet adjusted the odds.
Taking advantage of bonus offers: A common mistake made by new sports bettors is not taking full advantage of the free money being offered to them. Make a sizable first deposit at multiple sportsbooks in order to obtain the highest bonus amount possible. Many of these bonuses require bettors to “play through” the amount a number of times before it turns from bet credit to a withdrawable amount of money. Make higher wagers on heavy favorites to start out in order to accomplish this form of alchemy as quickly and safely as possible.