Even though the Chicago Blackhawks have lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup three times in the past six seasons, today’s National Hockey League has more parity than ever before.
Without even going into the number of eighth and seventh-seed first round playoff upsets (11), or the number of different teams (7) that have won the whole thing the past 10 seasons, the NHL shows us consistently that any team can win on any given night. Near the halfway point of the 2015-16 season, the last-place club in the Western Conference is only six points out of a playoff spot, and the second-to-worst team in the Eastern Conference is only 10 points out, another example of just how tight the level of talent is across the board.
This is what makes the NHL such an exciting and popular sport to bet on, no matter if it’s a matchup between two teams fighting for playoff seeding or a bottom-feeder trying to play spoiler to a rival’s wild card aspirations.
And while hockey’s playoffs are widely regarded as the most exciting in professional sports, the second half of the 2015-16 season still has plenty of huge matchups remaining. These big-time games we’ve outlined below will no doubt see large sums of money wagered on them, bolstering the excitement of the season even further for bettors.
By far the easiest way to make a bet on the big games is doing so online – allowing you to do so, sometimes even mid-game, from the comfort of your chair. (OnlineGambling.org is a great place to start if you’re new to sports betting).
January 31 – 61st NHL All Star Game
Last season’s All-Star Game set nine different ASG scoring records, including most total goals scored (29), most scored in a single period (11), and the fastest two, three, and four goals scored. There’s no doubt that this year in Nashville that players will be out to try and outdo last year’s game, making it even more of a fun novelty to wager some side money on.
February 13 – Washington Capitals at Dallas Stars
Currently with the third most points in the league, the Jamie Benn-lead Stars have been one of the biggest surprises of the season. Conversely, the league-best Washington Capitals’ performance has surprised no one, and they remain one of (if not the) favorite to lift the Cup.
February 21 – Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild (Coors Light NHL Stadium Series)
We’re not sure what’s harder to believe: that the NHL’s Stadium Series is already in its third season, or that Minnesota, a state synonymous with frozen pond hockey, has yet to host an outdoor game. The University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium will be the site of the Wild’s maiden open-air game, a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Semi-Finals.
February 27 – Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche (Coors Light NHL Stadium Series)
Also hard to believe (given their franchise’s history, their city’s climate, and the team name itself) is that the Colorado Avalanche have also never participated in an outdoor game. Coors Field will be the host venue for their first one in a clash with the Detroit Red Wings.
Perhaps as safe a bet as wintry and snowy conditions will be countless mentions by the announcers that this was hockey’s fiercest rivalry in the mid-90’s and early 2000’s. Some of that animosity may be born again as the two clubs vie for playoff spots in the hyper-competitive Western Conference.
March 28 – Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks
In what many call today’s best rivalry in the NHL, this edition of the Battle of California between the Pacific Division’s current top two teams will undoubtedly be no less heated or important as the regular season winds down.
The first three meetings between the teams this season were high-scoring affairs (19 goals total). Given that San Jose’s Joe Pavelski and LA’s Tyler Toffoli are both near the top of the league in scoring, it wouldn’t be a surprise if that trend continued.
April 5 – Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
They might seem like an unlikely combination for a rivalry, but the Bolts and Rangers have much more in common with each other besides both just being Eastern Conference members. For starters, three current Tampa players–Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, and former captain Ryan Callahan–joined the club after being traded to or signed away from the Rangers.
The two Atlantic seaboard teams then met in the playoffs for the first time in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, a seven-game affair that saw New York lose a playoff Game 7 at home for the first time in their long and storied history.
April 7 – St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks
The Blues and Hawks’ nearly 40 years of being in the same division, short proximity from each other, and countless moments of controversy over the years always make their matchups ones to circle on the calendar.
The way things are shaping up in the standings, this fifth and final regular season meeting could realistically be a precursor to a heated meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight year.
April 9 – Every game, every team
Playoff seeding and berths will undoubtedly be on the line as a 15-game smorgasboard gets under way on the final day of the regular season.
Perhaps most meaningful and most difficult to call for bettors will be the normally already-intense Red Wings-Rangers and Penguins-Flyers matchups, as well as Lighting-Habs, Capitals-Blues, and Coyotes-Sharks matchups that could have major seeding implications.