Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

How to Bet the 2020 NHL Postseason

Handicapping the
NHL Playoffs

The NBA isn't the only league returning to a standard format schedule, as the NHL has decided to give every opening series one potential back-to-back spread around four other games with one day off before hand.

It can always be debated how important the numbers these teams put up before the stoppage really do matter, but games off a day's rest do make up the bulk of the schedule for NHL teams regularly, and we already have some matchups where some interesting betting angles can be approached with these numbers.

The lack of any real travel should dilute them somewhat, as the long layoff will as well, but there could be some nice spots that pop up early on in these series, and continuing throughout the playoffs.

So let's take a look at some of these potential scenarios as it will be here before you know it.

NHL Results
One Day of Rest

2019-20 Records - One Day Off (Alphabetical Order)
Team Wins Losses Overs Unders
Arizona 18 21 17 21
Boston 21 15 14 18
Calgary 24 20 23 18
Carolina 18 12 14 16
Chicago 10 25 16 19
Colorado 27 14 18 21
Columbus 20 17 17 19
Dallas 14 20 14 18
Edmonton 20 26 19 23
Florida 16 19 20 14
Minnesota 23 21 19 20
Montreal 19 18 15 22
Nashville 18 21 20 17
N.Y. Islanders 20 23 13 28
N.Y. Rangers 19 21 20 19
Pittsburgh 21 9 18 10
Philadelphia 24 8 18 12
St. Louis 24 14 16 21
Tampa Bay 25 16 25 13
Toronto 16 16 16 14
Vancouver 20 18 19 17
Vegas 22 17 19 18
Washington 21 16 22 15
Winnipeg 21 20 16 21

Best Records One Day of Rest

  • Colorado 27-14
  • Tampa Bay 25-16
  • Philadelphia 24-8
  • St. Louis 24-14
  • Calgary 24-20
  • Pittsburgh 21-9

Not surprising to see the majority of these teams being the ones in the round robin playing out for the Top 4 seeds, because like it was mentioned earlier, this one day off structure does typically make up the bulk of a team's schedule. Those are some strong numbers the Blues, Flyers, Lightning, and Avalanche put up and should be able to be put to use in the rounds going ahead.

Chances are this scheduling format stays consistent throughout the entire stay in the bubble, and if the teams that dominated in that situation do so again in the restart, likely the most futures units should be saved for teams that do currently reside in the Top 4, whether they are on this list or not.

What is really interesting in terms of the Pittsburgh Penguins case is that the first four games of their series with Montreal are all off a day off. The Canadiens were simply average in that role (19-18 SU) during the year, but were 3-9 SU in that spot as any sort of plus-money underdog and that's likely where they'll be all series.

Pittsburgh to win exactly 3-0 is sitting at +400 right now, while the Penguins to win 3-1 is +350. If you're liking Pittsburgh but aren't keen on paying the juice on them for the series, those are other options to go about it.

And should the series go to a decisive Game 5 on back-to-back nights, a series Penguins wager would still be live, but it would be sweating a 6-8 SU record in that role vs Montreal's 4-9 SU number.

A game Pittsburgh should win, but could also be a single game wagering option should your only pre-series wagers be on the Penguins in three or four and whiff on both. Keeping options open is never a bad thing.

Worst Records One Day of Rest

  • Chicago 10-25
  • Dallas 14-20
  • Edmonton 20-26

Chicago and Edmonton are matched up to begin their proceedings and Oilers fans are hoping that their young talent does in fact win out in the end. Chicago did tie Vegas for the most wins overall in games played on no rest this year with nine, and that back-to-back spot in this series would be a pressure packed Game 5.

Oilers fans do not want to see their team in that spot if possible – although Edmonton was 6-1 without rest this year - and their prices to win 3-0 (+450) and 3-1 (+375) are in the same ballpark that Pittsburgh's are.

Other notes for NHL games off a day of rest

Tampa Bay was a great 'over' bet after a day off at 25-13-3 O/U this year, while the Islanders were the best 'under' side to be on at 13-28 O/U. The Islanders path to success in this restart is going to have to start with their defensive play to begin with, and if they can shut down a Florida team that was predominantly an 'over' team after a rest day (20-14 O/U), who knows how far they could go.

Tampa Bay and their offense is always going to get plenty of love, but looking to back them 'over' the number in their round robin games out of the gate may not be a bad idea either. Washington was an 'over' team themselves in this role at 22-15, and while Boston was just 14-18 SU in their outings, that could also keep the total low enough to keep the 'over' side as the play.

The round robin games could have a more loose feel to them to begin with as they are used more for fitness rather than anything else, and the Lightning, Caps, Bruins and Flyers could all end up going that guns blazing route and let the seeds fall where they may.

NHL Results
Zero Days of Rest

2019-20 Records - Zero Days Off (Alphabetical Order)
Team Wins Losses Overs Unders
Arizona 2 10 5 7
Boston 5 6 4 7
Calgary 5 4 3 6
Carolina 7 5 7 5
Chicago 9 5 4 9
Colorado 6 6 4 8
Columbus 6 7 5 8
Dallas 7 5 6 5
Edmonton 6 1 4 3
Florida 8 6 7 7
Minnesota 4 4 3 5
Montreal 4 9 7 5
Nashville 4 4 5 3
N.Y. Islanders 5 2 4 3
N.Y. Rangers 7 5 4 7
Philadelphia 6 7 8 5
Pittsburgh 6 8 7 7
St. Louis 6 4 7 3
Tampa Bay 8 4 5 6
Toronto 2 11 7 6
Vancouver 4 5 5 4
Vegas 9 2 4 7
Washington 6 4 5 5
Winnipeg 4 5 6 2

Best Records
Zero Days of Rest

  • Vegas 9-2
  • Chicago 9-5
  • Tampa Bay 8-4
  • Edmonton 6-1

The first thought that tends to come to mind with Vegas atop that list is the Golden Knights owning an advantage formerly known as the “Vegas Flu” when opponents were in town. That is a term that will likely won't be around much longer, but this is Vegas playing without rest, not their opponent.

The Knights did the bulk of that damage on the road (7-1 SU without rest on the road), but did have the benefit of some luck going their way being 4-0 SU in games that needed OT or a shootout.

The suggestion that Vegas understands how to shut out distractions and get the best result does bode well for their future prospects in this restart and it will be interesting to see how things may line up for the Knights when their elimination games start.

Worst Records
Zero Days of Rest

  • Toronto 2-11
  • Arizona 2-10

Hands down the two worst records of any teams involved in this restart, and both better not find themselves down in their respective series when that no rest game pops up.

For Arizona it's Game 3 of their contest with Nashville, so get a split in the first two “road” games and all is forgotten about.

That Coyotes/Predators series has been one that's felt like it will need the distance to be decided since the format was laid out, and outside of this severe disadvantage for one game from a scheduling standpoint for Arizona, the historical scheduling numbers are pretty even between the two.

Toronto's back-to-back game is Game 4 with Columbus a team that was 6-7 SU in that role over the course of the year. The Leafs still have to view this unique campaign as one where they can get that playoff burden off their back early without having to deal with the likes of Boston or Tampa Bay, and maybe they end up flipping the script on this number and close out the series in four games.

Or, it Toronto's “throw away” game after grabbing a 2-1 series lead before they deal with a pressure-packed Game 5. That sounds about par for the course for your team doesn't it Leafs fans? Either way, Toronto trailing in that series going into a Game 4 might be time to start pricing out the possibility of being on the Blue Jackets to close things out then.

Other Notes for NHL games played without rest

The sample size is nowhere near the same, but to see a heavy 'under' team like the Islanders actually be 4-3 O/U in their games without rest is a tidbit of information to hold on to.

That back-to-back spot is Game 3 for the Islanders and Panthers, and it may end up being the only spot that does really look decent to 'over' bettors in that series. Dallas is another team that has had more 'overs' in back-to-back spots too (6-5 O/U).

Ultimately, these back-to-back numbers are helpful in isolating certain games, but these back-to-back spots are going to be so different that they might not mean nearly as much as the one day off numbers do. When games without rest happened during the year, there was some travel involved, and new lodgings to deal with, potentially a time zone and a whole bunch of other things.

None of that will be the case for this restart, and the later in a series these back-to-back games are the easier it may end up being pulling the trigger on the side that simply has looked the fittest through the first four games. Hard not to give that method of attack a thought as well.

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