Take the toughness and athleticism of the NFL, the passion of collegiate sports and the worldwide popularity of the NBA, and you have the NHL. How can anyone not love a sport that features 220-pound athletes skating into one another at up to 30 miles per hour?
There is no better Winter Olympic event than the hockey tournament when NHL players from all over the world lose their professional jerseys for those of their country. And there is no annual sporting event that comes close to the intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Lord Stanley’s Cup has a reputation as the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports. And when you watch the more-than-two-month postseason grind that teams endure to win it, it’s obviously true.
Hockey is as Canadian as Molson and the McKenzie brothers; though, in today’s NHL, a full 24 of the 31 teams call the United States home, including the Colorado Avalanche.
The real sea change in both popularity and franchise location came with Wayne Gretzky’s trade to Los Angeles in 1988. At the time of his trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles, the league had 21 teams, and the Kings were in the only warm-weather city on the hockey map. Since that time, the cities of San Jose, Anaheim, Dallas, Nashville, Miami, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Raleigh, Atlanta and Las Vegas have all added franchises.
The popularity in the US is at an all-time high, and more and more people are figuring out that betting on hockey, and specifically the Stanley Cup playoffs, is some of the most exciting action a sports bettor can ever play.
Colorado has a great hockey history, first with the Colorado Rockies — a team that became the New Jersey Devils — and now with the Colorado Avalanche, who have won two Stanley Cups since relocating to Denver from Quebec. But with legal sports betting only now coming to Colorado, placing bets on the NHL is a new thing.
You probably have questions. Maybe even some concerns. This page is here to answer those queries and alleviate any of your nervousness about placing Stanley Cup playoff bets.
How to make Stanley Cup playoff bets
Sixteen teams, four rounds, and a best-of-seven series to decide each winner. If you like betting on sports, you are going to love betting on a deciding Game 7 that features hatred, exhaustion and desperation born from facing elimination. It’s the absolute best.
And if you are new to sports betting completely, the Stanley Cup playoffs are a great place to cut your teeth on this new endeavor.
To make legal sports bets in the state of Colorado, all participants must be at least 21 years old. You also must be physically located in the state when making those bets.
This does not mean that you have to be a resident of Colorado to be legal. Anyone visiting Colorado is welcome to make a sports wager from within state lines.
If using an internet connection or mobile device to place those bets, your location will be confirmed through your IP address or location services on your phone.
Retail sportsbooks in Colorado
If you’d like to place your bets in person at a brick-and-mortar sportsbook and with a live teller, the three mountain towns that are home to Colorado’s 33 casinos are where you’ll have to go. The casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek can apply for master sports betting licenses, which upon approval allow them to open retail sportsbook locations inside their casinos.
Almost all of the casinos have put in applications, with half of those already meeting approval. In addition, more may join the mix in the coming months.
Online and mobile sportsbooks in Colorado
Retail sportsbooks aren’t always convenient or even preferred if they are convenient. But when Colorado wrote its sports betting laws in 2019, it also legalized online and mobile sportsbooks. All holders of a master license and operator of a retail sportsbook have created partnerships with companies to open online and mobile sportsbooks that are connected.
This means that if you sign up for DraftKings on its website, you can access its mobile app with the same login information. Two ways to connect, but using a single account.
To get that account, you’ll have to register with your name, date of birth, email address, physical address, phone number and final four digits of your Social Security number. Once you’ve created the account and verified your age and identity, you can make a deposit and begin placing bets.
Almost all of these sportsbooks will have apps available for iOS and Android. But one note about Android apps — the Google Play store does not allow any gambling-related apps. To download an Android app, you’ll need to go to the website and look for a download link for the app.
Stanley Cup history
First commissioned in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the Stanley Cup now bears the name of Lord Stanley of Preston, who donated it to the Montreal Hockey Club in 1893. It is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, and noteworthy for a unique aspect: It keeps growing in size.
New bands have been added along the base of the trophy to accommodate the name engravings for new winners of the Cup. To date, nearly 3,500 names have been engraved on it.
The road to the Stanley Cup
The NHL has been the official awarder of the Cup since 1926, some nine years after the NHL came into being. When the Stanley Cup playoffs first began, the NHL had two divisions — American and Canadian, with five teams each.
The top three teams in each division made it to the playoffs. A two-game round-robin between the three teams based on total goals decided who advanced to the final, which was a best-of-five series.
The league retracted to six teams in 1943 and remained that way through 1967. These six — Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Montreal, Toronto and the New York Rangers — are what is known as the Original Six.
It was during this time that best-of-seven series began, and Red Wings fans began throwing octopuses on the ice as a good luck charm to secure the eight wins needed to take the Cup.
Expansion to 12 teams happened in 1967; then, in 1974, the league added four more. By 1979, the NHL was up to 21 teams — the same year it began sending 16 teams to the playoffs.
And today, each of the seven-game playoff series is played in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, so no one plays more than two consecutive games on home ice.
Stanley Cup playoff betting odds and lines
Stanley Cup playoff betting has five types of wagers that you can play.
This is the most basic bet in sports, the most basic bet in hockey, and the bet you’re most likely to put down in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s just a straight win/loss bet that pays on different odds, depending on if you took the favorite or the underdog. A moneyline looks like this:
- St. Louis Blues (-120)
- San Jose Sharks (+105)
American odds express an even odds matchup as +100. So if you’re playing the +105 on the Sharks, it’s easiest to understand that payout as $105 in winnings off a $100 bet.
If you bet the Blues to win on the moneyline, as the favorite, they pay less. It takes a $120 wager to win $100.
Unlike football or basketball bets that have shifting point spreads, hockey has the puck line. It works like a spread in that the favorite must win by more than the amount of the puck line. But it’s also very different in that the puck line is almost always +/- 1.5.
This is how it will look on the board.
- St. Louis Blues -1.5 (+160)
- San Jose Sharks +1.5 (-180)
Because of the nature of hockey and its low scoring, to truly make things even with a puck line, there is still a moneyline bet attached. So to get the Sharks at +1.5, you have to accept lower odds and a smaller payout. Conversely, if you take the Blues to win by two goals or more, the payoff is bigger.
Also known as a totals bet, an over/under bet is simply a bet on the combined score of both teams. You don’t care which team wins. You only care how many goals the teams combine to score, and if that total is over or under the line.
Here’s an example, sticking with the Blues and Sharks.
- St. Louis Blues -6.5
- San Jose Sharks +6.5
If you bet the over, you will need seven total goals to win your bet. If you take the under, six goals or fewer is your winner. And yes, overtime goals will count against the total.
You might see a small fluctuation in the odds attached to an over/under bet. Typically the odds you see on this type of bet reflect the juice the sportsbook is collecting, which is expressed as -110. Although if you’re lucky, it can be lower.
Futures and propositions
The final two types of bets are futures bets and propositions. Futures are exactly that — betting on a future winner of an event, like betting on the winner of the Stanley Cup Finals long before the finals take place. Propositions are individual or team bets placed inside larger events.
Prop bets are hugely popular for the Super Bowl, but there are also plenty of great prop bets for the Stanley Cup Finals. Total games played in the series, over/under on games played, exact score, in what city will the series end, total points scored by a particular player, total shots on goal, etc.
Futures betting is always fun, and if you bet on the Blues to win 2019, it was quite profitable. Even as the Stanley Cup Finals began, St. Louis was paying +230 as Stanley Cup champions.
But back in January, when the Blues had the worst record in the league, they were listed at +25000 to win the Cup. One lucky fan named Scott Berry bet $400 on the 250-1 long shots, winning him a cool $100,000.
Recent Stanley Cup Finals
|2019||St Louis Blues||4-3||Boston Bruins|
|2018||Washington Capitals||4-1||Las Vegas Golden Nights|
|2017||Pittsburgh Penguins||4-2||Nashville Predators|
|2016||Pittsburgh Penguins||4-2||San Jose Sharks|
|2015||Chicago Blackhawks||4-2||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|2014||LA Kings||4-1||New York Rangers|
|2013||Chicago Blackhawks||4-2||Boston Bruins|
|2012||LA Kings||4-2||New Jersey Devils|
|2011||Boston Bruins||4-3||Vancouver Canucks|
|2010||Chicago Blackhawks||4-2||Philadelphia Flyers|
Stanley Cup betting FAQ
Can I bet on the Colorado Avalanche when placing bets in Colorado?
Yes. All professional sports are legal to wager on in Colorado, including teams that play in the state and any event that takes place in the state. Additionally, it’s only illegal to bet on high school sports. All Avalanche bets are legal.
Is live betting offered on the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Yes. Almost every sportsbook that has opened in Colorado does offer live betting — the placing of wagers on games already in progress, and with changing odds and lines throughout. Furthermore, the high-speed play of hockey makes it a particularly good sport for live wagering.
The action is intense, scoring can happen at any moment, and with penalties, power plays and individual period bets, the wagering options are plentiful.
How important is home-ice in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
Home-ice advantage used to be a bigger factor in determining winners than it is now. For instance, in 2018 the Washington Capitals lost their first two games at home in round one but still won the series and went on to win the Cup by winning two games in Las Vegas.
In 2019, three of the Blues’ four wins came on the road in Boston, including the 4-1 clinching victory in Game 7.