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NHL Qualification Round: Best Bets & Updated Odds for Every Series

David Golokhov

by David Golokhov in NHL Hockey

Jul 26, 2020 · 5:32 PM PDT

PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh
What are the best bets in the Qualifying Round of the 2020 NHL playoffs? Photo by Nick.Amoscato (Wikimedia)
  • The 2019-20 NHL season will resume action on Saturday, August 1st.
  • The league will move into a qualifying series round where the No. 5 through No. 12 seeds in each conference will engage in best-of-five series.
  • See below for all the series odds and our top value bets

The 2019-20 NHL season will get back to business on August 1st.  The top-four teams from each conference will play a Round Robin tournament to determine seeding for the playoffs, while the rest of the teams will go straight into a qualifying series where they’ll have to survive to move on. With the series prices on the board, what are the best bets for the NHL playoff odds in the qualifying round?

2020 NHL Qualifying Series Odds

Series Odds at FanDuel
Arizona Coyotes +110
Nashville Predators -134
Series Odds
Chicago Blackhawks +134
Edmonton Oilers -164
Series Odds
Columbus Blue Jackets +140
Toronto Maple Leafs -172
Series Odds
Florida Panthers -102
New York Islanders -120
Series Odds
Minnesota Wild +102
Vancouver Canucks -124
Series Odds
Montreal Canadiens +166
Pittsburgh Penguins -205
Series Odds
New York Rangers +114
Carolina Hurricanes -136
Series Odds
Winnipeg Jets +104
Calgary Flames -128

Odds taken July 25th.

Qualifying Series Format

The NHL will return to action with the No. 5 through No. 12 seeds in each conference playing in a best-of-five qualifying series. This was done because many of the lower seeds in each conference were within arm’s reach of making the postseason but there was no home stretch for the teams to try and make one final push.

The teams will go straight into these series with the Eastern Conference teams playing their games in Toronto with the Western Conference teams playing their games in Edmonton. No fans will be allowed to attend the games.

Blue Jackets Could Be A Live Dog

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the regular season as one of the squads that was clearly expected to make the playoffs and possibly contend for a Stanley Cup. As the season played out, though, they fell way short of expectations, eventually firing head coach Mike Babcock.

The Leafs now find themselves in an odd spot. They are the second-biggest favorite on the board in terms of the series prices as they go up against a team that had the same amount of points as them. I’m not sure that the price is right – even if the Leafs are at home.

These two teams couldn’t be more opposites. The Leafs are offense-oriented, filled with big stars but are weak in net. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are one of the best teams in terms of goals-per-game allowed (tied for third), and are mostly a blue-collar team without stars and are the sum of their parts.

The pressure will be on the Leafs to deliver here while the Blue Jackets – who weren’t expected to be much of anything this season – are essentially playing with house money. If Toronto was more in the -130 range, I would understand. At -172, there’s value with the Blue Jackets as these teams are about even.

Jets Offering Some Value

The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets are two teams who were big factors in the 2019 playoff picture. In 2020, they’ve fallen way short of expectations and would barely be inside the playoff cut if we were using the traditional format.

The Flames have had some serious issues in net as David Rittich has simply not been the answer. He has a 2.97 GAA and .907 save percentage this season and generally speaking, just isn’t that reliable. He had an .887 save percentage in January and .871 in February. The Flames other option is Cam Talbot, who has been slightly better at times but is also unreliable.

A big issue for the Flames is that while they have a solid blue line, they give up a ton of shots on net (eighth-most). Many of their young offensive stars – who shined brightly last year – hadn’t been delivering before the hiatus. The team is just 20th in goals per game (2.91).

The Jets are not without flaws as they had been very average until February. They started 25-23-4 but finished the year 12-5-2 in their final 19 games. They have the better goaltender here as Connor Hellebuyck has a 2.57 GAA and a .922 save percentage on the year. He had a .934 save percentage after the All-Star break.

These are two fairly even teams but the Jets have the better goaltender. Considering they also have the plus sign in front of their number, I’m more inclined to take a shot with them.

Pens Are Worth The Price

I’m very hesitant to lay juice in any opening series, so naturally, it makes complete sense that I’m interested in the biggest favorite, right? Paradox aside, I do think the Pens are one of the strongest plays in the qualifying series. This is a complete mismatch for the Montreal Canadiens.

To start, the Habs have just 71 points on the year, the fewest of any team playing in the qualifying round. Secondly, this team goes as Carey Price does and he’s in the midst of a bad year. Only once in the last seven years has he had a worst save percentage than his current .909 and only once in the last 12 years has he had a GAA higher than his current 2.79.

The Pens have a lot of firepower coming in – they are 10th in scoring at 3.20 per game – and the team benefited from the hiatus as star Jake Guentzel, who was out, is now back. It’s hard to find an edge for the Habs here, which is why I’m expecting the Pens to make this quick and painless.

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