We’re getting close.
The NHL released the schedule for the first part of the league’s playoffs on Aug. 1. In some ways, the exercise was just a formality. The Pittsburgh Penguins already knew they were playing the Canadiens in their qualifying series. And the Philadelphia Flyers were already locked into a pool-play format based on being one of the best Eastern Conference teams.
But the league’s schedule release is yet another completed step in the NHL’s return to action. Twenty-four teams will compete in the league’s restart. The top four in each conference will play in a round-robin format to determine playoff seeding. The remaining eight teams from each conference will compete in a best-of-five qualifying series with a single opponent.
Once the initial round is completed, the remaining eight teams from each conference will be placed into a traditional Stanley Cup playoff format. So what has perhaps been the craziest season in NHL history is approaching something that could lead to a rather traditional ending. That’s good news for all of us.
Let’s take a look at the NHL’s upcoming schedule and what it means for our hometown teams and our NHL betting opportunities.
Penguins, Flyers meet in exhibition game on July 28
Pennsylvania’s two pro hockey teams will kick off the NHL’s return with an exhibition game Tuesday, July 28, at 4 p.m. Eastern Conference teams will play all their games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Western Conference teams will compete at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
After the exhibition game, the Penguins will meet Montreal in a best-of-five series to determine which team advances to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Pittsburgh is -190 at BetRivers Sportsbook, PlaySugarHouse and DraftKings Sportsbook in the first game of the series on Saturday, Aug. 1, at 8 p.m.
Three-way wagers are also available for the game with Pittsburgh at -112 to win (Montreal is +250) and a tie at +310.
The rest of Pittsburgh and Montreal’s series games are scheduled as follows:
- Monday, Aug. 3, at 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 8 p.m.
- August 7 and 8 – To be determined
The Penguins are -195 to win the series at BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse, while the Canadiens are +155. There are also wagers available on the series outcome puck line, the total games in the series and the series correct score.
FOX Bet has boosted odds for the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup
Philadelphia’s schedule for Eastern Conference pool play should be announced soon. In the meantime, fans may want to take a look at futures odds. FOX Bet has boosted the Flyers’ odds to win this year’s Stanley Cup to +1300.
FanDuel Sportsbook views them even more favorably at +850, making them the fourth favorite for the title. The Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning are the consensus favorites, ranging between +600 and +650 at PA sportsbooks.
Pool play odds are also available at BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse, with the Flyers at +550 to win the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed.
Penguins are +1600 to win the Stanley Cup
Pittsburgh is +1600 to win the Stanley Cup at most of the region’s sportsbooks. Eastern Conference futures are also available, with the Penguins’ chances improving to +900 with that wager. The Flyers are +300 to win the conference.
Daily fantasy hockey should also return soon
A glimpse at the NHL’s schedule reveals an abundance of hockey awaiting us all. There are three exhibition games on July 28, six on July 29 and three more on the 30th. Then the qualifying series will begin with five games on Aug. 1. Most days after that will feature a similar busy schedule until the Stanley Cup playoffs start.
And daily fantasy players can expect a number of contests from FanDuel and DraftKings, providing plenty of action as the season resumes.
We’re not quite there yet. But the hockey schedule is out. And the plans are in place.
We’re getting close.