We’re finishing off this two-part series by looking at the odds, picks, and best bets for the NHL Western Conference after the All-Star Break. Check out the best bets for the Eastern Conference here!
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NHL Western Conference Odds & Best Bets: Central Division
NHL Western Conference: Central Division Standings & Odds
The Central Division is quite possibly the most competitive in the league with four teams having a realistic chance to finish the season in first place.
The first-place Stars are the favorites between -110 and -140, depending on the book, with the Avalanche (+380), Jets (+550), and Wild (+600) all in the mix as well.
Central Division Best Bets
While the Eastern Conference divisions are all but settled, leaving playoff markets to choose from, the Central Division, in particular, has some value in the betting markets.
First and foremost, I am looking at…
Colorado Avalanche to win Central Division (+380)
The reigning Stanley Cup champions are finally getting healthy with Valeri Nichushkin and Bowen Byram expected to return this week. They’re still without Gabriel Landeskog, which hurts, but they’re well within striking distance of the Stars.
The Avalanche are just nine points back of the Stars with three games in hand. You’d expect Colorado to get at least three or four points in three games, moving them to likely just six points back (or fewer) of the Stars once they make up those games.
There was a bit of a Cup hangover for Colorado but the Avs should be raring to go after the break. They have an easier schedule the rest of the way and should be looking to ramp things up heading into the home stretch.
However, if things go the other way…
Colorado Avalanche to miss the playoffs (+620)
Yes, this completely goes against the first bet listed but stay with me here. The Avalanche aren’t guaranteed to find their form again and they could very well see injuries hamper them the rest of the way.
The Avalanche hold the second wild card spot in the West with the Flames tied at 57 points — in three more games. It would shock me if Colorado didn’t make the playoffs, but there is pure value on odds of +620 (13.89%) vs. 31% chance to miss the playoffs on MoneyPuck.
Speaking of longshots…
Winnipeg Jets to win Central Division (+550)
Connor Hellebuyck has carried the Jets thus far and they’re also finally healthy with no major contributors on the injury list.
The Jets may need someone to help out Josh Morrissey on the blue line, but they’re firing on all cylinders up front with Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mark Scheifele, and now Nikolaj Ehlers back and producing.
MoneyPuck gives Winnipeg a 43.3% chance to win the division — the highest in the Central — while +550 odds imply a 15.38% chance. That’s quite a gulf and some value can be had there.
Finally, take a crack at a team we haven’t even mentioned yet…
Nashville Predators to miss the playoffs (-168)
The Predators are three points behind the Avalanche for the final wild-card spot in the West, and three points behind the Flames with two games in hand. They’re not a team that has the weapons to make a run in the second half, especially after Roman Josi, Matt Duchene, and the rest of the Preds’ top guns had career years last season to just make it into the playoffs.
NHL Western Conference Odds & Best Bets: Pacific Division
NHL Western Conference: Pacific Division Standings & Odds
Not to be outdone by the Central, the Pacific Division has five teams with odds of +900 or shorter to win the division.
The Kraken (+180), Oilers (+300), Golden Knights (+500), Flames (+800), and Kings (+900) are all still in the mix with none pulling away from the pack just yet.
Pacific Division Best Bets
Seattle Kraken to win the Pacific Division (+180)
The Kraken came out of nowhere and took the league by storm this season. After an unimpressive inaugural campaign, Seattle is swimming strongly in its second season.
The Pacific Division is close at the top but the Kraken have played the fewest games and are tied for the most points. MoneyPuck gives them a 40.6% chance to win the division (~+145) so we’re getting some value here as well. It’s also worth noting that the Kraken have the easiest remaining strength of schedule in the league.
The one issue with Seattle is the goaltending. Martin Jones isn’t what he once was during his first few years in San Jose and Philipp Grubauer isn’t much better. The Kraken may need to swing a trade for a goalie if they want to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, +180 is a great price for the Kraken right now.
Speaking of teams with goaltending issues…
Edmonton Oilers to win the Pacific Division (+300)
The Oilers may have found a solution to their goalie problems, however, with All-Star netminder Stuart Skinner. He’s taken over as the starter and is 13-10-3 with a 2.92 GAA and .914 SV% so far this season.
Edmonton also has a few pretty good players — you may have heard of them — in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It’s also about time that the Oilers went for it and made a trade for a defenseman at the deadline.
These +300 odds imply just a 25% chance to win the division but MoneyPuck gives Edmonton a 33.9% chance (~+195).
How about one last longshot…
Calgary Flames to win the Pacific Division (+800)
The Flames are currently outside of the playoffs looking in at the break. However, they’re one of the best teams in the league in terms of Expected Goals For Percentage (54.4%). In fact, that mark is the best in the West and only behind the Hurricanes and Devils in the entire league.
Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar are starting to find their footing, and the Flames are going to be dangerous if Jacob Markstrom can do the same. He had nine shutouts with a .922 SV% last season but is just 13-13-5 with a .893 SV% this season. He could be the difference-maker in the long run for the Flames.
Given that, the Flames could go one of two ways. They could take off and win it, or….
Calgary Flames to miss the playoffs (+250)
As stated above, the Flames are barely out of a playoff spot right now. The Predators are on their tails, although I don’t believe in them too much. However, it’s going to be tough to topple the Oilers or Avalanche to grab one of those two wild-card spots. Mind you, the Wild (58 points in 48 games) could fall into a wild-card spot as well.
If goaltending doesn’t come around, Calgary to miss the playoffs +250 could cash easily.
Follow Ryan Gilbert on Twitter (@RGilbertSOP)