The National Hockey League returns to action in two secure zones in Canada after a four-month layoff with 24 teams qualifying for the postseason. DraftKings updated the NHL play-in series odds, and the #5 Pittsburgh Penguins are the biggest favorite at -245 to defeat the #12 Montreal Canadians in the Eastern Conference bracket in the play-in series.
Commissioner Gary Bettman halted the NHL season on March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Teams had approximately 10 games remaining in the regular season when the league shut down.
The league determined that 24 teams would become eligible for the postseason when the NHL playoffs resumed. The top four teams in each conference will play a special round-robin tournament to determine the top four seeds.
Meanwhile, the other teams were assigned regular seeding between #5 and #12. The play-in series will be a best-of-five affair. The winners of the play-ins will square off against the round-robin teams in a best-of-seven series.
Eastern Conference: Mighty Penguins, Leafs Make a Run?
The Eastern Conference playoffs will take place in a “secure zone” in their hub city of Toronto, Ontario.
The Pittsburgh Penguins (86 points) begins the postseason as the top team in the east. The Montreal Canadiens should have bubbled the playoffs, but they were afforded a second chance with the play-in format. The Canadiens are the last team from Canada to win the Stanley Cup, but they’re huge dogs to advance to the next round.
PLAY-IN SERIES ODDS – EAST
#12 Montreal Canadiens +195
#5 Pittsburgh Penguins -245
#11 New York Rangers +110
#6 Carolina Hurricanes -136
#10 Florida Panthers +100
#7 New York Islanders -122
#9 Columbus Blue Jackets +148
#8 Toronto Maple Leafs -182
Speaking of Canadian teams, the Maple Leafs would love to end Canada’s championship drought and bring the Stanley Cup back home to Toronto. The Leafs, with the #8 seed, are one of the other big favorites in the east at -182. They will be skating on their home ice as well.
The Leafs square off against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who played the role of spoiler in the 2019 playoffs. The Blue Jackets not only upset the #1-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round, but they also swept the Lightning. The Blue Jackets are another live dog once again.
Western Conference: Home-Ice Oilers
The Western Conference playoffs commence in the hub city of Edmonton, Alberta.
The Edmonton Oilers have a home-rink advantage and get to skate on their own ice. They come into the play-in series as the top favorite in the west. With the #5 seed, the Oilers are -200 to defeat the #12 Chicago Blackhawks.
The Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild square off in one of the closer match ups out west. The Canucks, also seeking to bring the Cup back to Canada, come into the play-in series as -121 favorites. The Wild are even money.
PLAY-IN SERIES ODDS – WEST
#12 Chicago Blackhawks +160
#5 Edmonton Oilers -200
#11 Arizona Coyotes +115
#6 Nashville Predators -139
#10 Minnesota Wild +100
#7 Vancouver Canucks -121
#9 Winnipeg Jets +106
#8 Calgary Flames -132
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames meet in the only all-Canada play-in series. At least one Canadian team will definitely bust in the play-in series. The Flames are currently 37/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup, while the Jets are 45/1 odds to win the Cup.