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Amid talk of the NHL returning with a 24-team playoff to complete the 2019-20 season, we dove yesterday into the updated Stanley Cup odds based on the new format.
There are also odds available for each of the eight play-in series, and there's a ton of value available for bettors with the majority of matchups so closely contested.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins (-190) vs. 12. Montreal Canadiens (+170)
As much as Carey Price may worry the Penguins, this isn't 2015, and Pittsburgh boasts too much firepower, especially with Jake Guentzel returning. At his best, Price will give them a scare, but the Canadiens lack the roster talent or depth to keep up.
6. Carolina Hurricanes (-150) vs. 11. New York Rangers (+130)
This would be a fascinating series between high-powered teams, but the break could really hurt the Rangers' momentum. I have to give the edge to the Hurricanes, who are dynamic up front and loaded on the blue line - the latter being particularly true with Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce set to return.
7. New York Islanders (+100) vs. 10. Florida Panthers (-120)
Things haven't gone quite to plan for the Panthers in what was supposed to be a special season under Joel Quenneville, but this second chance might be exactly what they needed. The break could prove to be a valuable mental reset, and this an incredibly dangerous team if it hits its groove. The Panthers have the sort of game-breaking talent the Islanders just can't match, which means it's Florida or nothing for me at this short price.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (-160) vs. 9. Columbus Blue Jackets (+140)
A disciplined, well-coached, and healthy Blue Jackets team is a brutal draw for the Maple Leafs, who will suffer more from the lack of home-ice advantage. Toronto's youthful roster could prove a significant edge coming out of the hiatus, but it's hard to pass up this value with all the big guns back in Columbus.
5. Edmonton Oilers (-150) vs. 12. Chicago Blackhawks (+130)
Missing out on a bye won't sit well with the Oilers, who were just 0.09 back of the fourth-seed Dallas Stars in points percentage. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are playing with house money. With all of the firepower on these teams, it could prove to be run-and-gun series that comes down to which side gets the better goaltending - and it's hard to look past Corey Crawford's strong run before the campaign was suspended. The Blackhawks won the season series and warrant a strong look at this price.
6. Nashville Predators (-125) vs. 11. Arizona Coyotes (+105)
Both of these teams came into the season with loftier expectations, but the Predators never could get out of first gear and the Coyotes struggled to find any consistency. Regardless, Arizona had the superior goal difference, and this series has the biggest gap in save percentage between the two clubs, as Darcy Kuemper is severely underrated between the pipes. I have the Coyotes as a small favorite here, which makes them terrific value at the current price.
7. Vancouver Canucks (-140) vs. 10. Minnesota Wild (+120)
Much like the Maple Leafs, this young Canucks team could be one of the least impacted by the break, and it will also get back goalie Jacob Markstrom. The Wild are polar opposites in terms of age, and it's hard to envision them flying out of the restart. The momentum they built in February was halted in its tracks, and this feels like a tough draw for them.
8. Calgary Flames (-110) vs. 9. Winnipeg Jets (-110)
This would be an excellent series featuring a pair of the season's bigger underachievers. On paper, there's very little separating these teams in what would be an incredibly tough one to call. I'd feel more comfortable backing the Jets with their better goaltending and more playoff experience up front.
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.