2023 NHL Playoffs Betting Guide

by DFSx42

This year's quest for the Stanley Cup begins tonight and therefore we bring you the 2023 NHL Playoffs Betting Guide.

But we begin with yesterday afternoon when @domluszczyzyn and his merry band of consonants took a break from traumatizing spelling bee flunkies to release his projections for the Cup.

I don’t mean to pick on Dom, from what I’ve seen of him he’s a very smart guy. On the surface, these are good projections. Everything here looks solid and I am inclined to agree with most of it. I even admire that he is taking a stand on the Winnipeg Jets being slight favorites over the Golden Knights in the first round. I can see a world where a healthy squad with an elite goalie can defeat a banged-up team that’s been struggling at finding consistency between the crease all season.

The Knights are in such a bad spot for goaltending that they upgraded by taking on the discarded starter of another playoff team who themselves had so little confidence in his abilities that they felt the need to find an upgrade. I also love Jonathan Quick. He’s a future Hall of Famer in my opinion and was the backbone for what were some of the most dominant shutdown defenses we’ve ever seen in the modern era. Having said that, he’s so old that I personally know people who played against him in high school.

But I digress. I brought up Dom’s well-researched and good-intentioned projections to make a very clear point. This model is so far off consensus that it can’t possibly be of any value for a sports betting purpose. If it were, the lines would move to correspond to his projections that he released to nearly a million people.

Since we've published @robpizzola has put his own projections and you'll see his also lines up with what you'll see here with slight differences. Simply put, nobody actually betting for a living will differ dramatically from the market consensus.

I’m sure people bet with these as a guideline, but the books didn’t flinch. So let's dive in a little more for our 2023 NHL Playoffs Betting Guide.

2023 NHL Playoffs Betting Guide

Reviewing The Model

A quick review of the model shows Dom even has Winnipeg beating Vegas 51% of the time. But the current odds available to bet this implies Winnipeg will win <40% of the time. As of the time of writing this, Pinnacle, the sharpest book on the planet, has Winnipeg lines up at +143. So if Winnipeg is going to win 51% of the time, wagering on them at +143 represents an astounding 24% EV.

Actually, Dom has since backtracked on this, changing it to Winnipeg winning a more reasonable 45% of the time. Yet even at this line, you’d still be printing money betting them at +143. He claims that Stone’s return warrants that change. But I personally think he’s rather realized the mistake and looking for an out. A single player accounting for a 5% swing in win rates implies he alone accounts for 10% of the game outcome. Stone is a great player, but very few can single-handedly move a line like that and he’s not one of them.

I’m not trying to be harsh on Dom. He’s not even promoting picks or doing anything scummy. I just want to mention that chart to clarify why we can’t simply say “These are the teams I like". The market is efficient. It’s set by teams of PhDs and then hammered into more accurate closing lines based on the investment of millions of dollars into it, hammering any lines that give out value.

But this is a common trap. You build a model, see the results, ignore how vastly it differs from the market, and go along your merry way. If you ever find yourself disagreeing that strongly with market consensus this close to game time on a mainstream market then you may as well get it over with. Take all your possessions; put them into a sack; and throw that sack into a river. Then go move into the tunnels underneath Vegas. That’s where you’re headed betting those results anyway and this way you save yourself a bunch of time.

My Approach

So what makes what I’m doing different? My model doesn’t have any spectacular insights. It says pretty much what anyone can tell by looking at the board in a sportsbook. There will be no surprises in mine. And all value is derived from various off-market books which briefly mispriced something to make wagering upon in +EV. Nobody is going to read this blog and say “Looks like the Islanders could make a run this year.” Yes, they could indeed make a run. But that’s already priced in. The only places we would bet the Islanders are where the chance they do go on a run isn’t priced in.

So what is the correct way to do this? Well simply put, it’s to throw out any model that gives results that dramatically differ from market consensus. You start over and try again. Once you do you have something that agrees, then you’re onto something and you can use those insights with a price in mind to then go line shop. We build the model for insights, but real EV is generated by then actively shopping for the best lines to bet once we know which sides we prefer.

So with that long-winded lecture aside, here are the bets which I believe are good bets, neutral bets, and terrible bets to make. I’ll also mention my own positions at the end of the article.

Series Props

Good Bets That I’m Not Betting

NJD – 1% EV - fair at -122

I’m very disappointed with this output. I personally favor the NY side of this wager. Shesterkin is one of the few things on earth that can defy math, science, gravity, and whatever model I used to determine playoff winners. Having said that, I also loved the Rangers' chances going into this season and thought they’d never lose again after seeing their deadline acquisitions. I’m clearly biased here, but my model cares not for Patrick Kane and Igor Shesterkin’s highlight videos.

CAR – 2% EV - fair at -206

Embed from Getty Images
Losing Max Pacioretty upon his return and then later losing Svechnikov was devastating and they limped through to the end of the season. Despite missing those key players, Carolina is still a great team and the NYI are fortunate to even be in the playoffs. I’m a little skeptical though, and worry I’m relying too heavily upon older data and not the post-Svech harsh reality. So this is yet another no-bet for me.

EDM – 4% EV – fair at -244

We’re finally getting to an actual wager where we can tell ourselves we’re not just degenerates looking to wager as this one actually has a tangible EV behind it. Edmonton took a lot of forward steps this year. They have addressed their issues with depth and defense and should beat the Kings, who still aren’t sure if Kevin Fiala will be back for the first game of the playoffs and that’s never a good sign. Obviously, anything can happen in an NHL series, but this is the only series bet I would personally consider betting.

Bad Bets for Good Fans

BOS – fair line at -346

If Boston were in the West then I’d be slamming home any first-round matchup at current odds of -359 with glee. But the East is absolutely stacked this year. And the Panthers are a very good team despite being the lowest seed. As a Boston fan, I was not happy to see they wound up with Florida.

And let’s be real, while it’s a bad bet in the long run, over a single instance, they are winning most of the time and we profit anyway. Just gotta hope this is one of that 78% of times they win and we don’t feel like idiots wagering 3.5x to 1 and still lose. There’s better Boston juice to squeeze here in Conference and Cup futures.

DAL – fair line at -150

Minnesota has been in freefall lately and just as they get Karill Kaprisov back, they lose Eriksson Ek. If your heart believes in Dallas, then you can justify paying a little vig to prove it. And with some line shopping, you can probably find better than -150. Like with Boston, I am on other DAL futures, but not this one.

TOR – fair at -167

I have the fair line at -167 and it’s currently smack dab at -168 so feel free to bet them and watch as they rip out your heart falling apart in the first round yet again. At least when this bet loses, don’t blame. It was the fault of the Leafs. It’s always the Leafs.

VGK – fair line at -164

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of plausible scenarios that Connor Hellebuyck keeps them in it each game and Stone is too rusty to contribute off the bat. But Vegas still has the better roster and home-ice advantage.

Terrible Bets for Degenerates

FLA – fair line at 346

There were a few shops that had lines out there briefly where you could have bet these big numbers to get a fair price, but those lines were hammered and no longer exist. If you do like Florida then I would consider waiting. It’s likely that a bunch of steam will come on the Boston side. If you’re going to get in bad betting on the biggest dog on the slate then you’ll probably get the best line waiting until the last minute.

TB – fair line at 167

I was really surprised by this one and thought this series would be closer. But both Vegas bookies and my model prefer Toronto by a decent margin. Like with Florida, I’d wait on this one as more money should be coming in on the Toronto side as we get closer to puck drop. There’s definitely a world where Vasilevskiy just dominates and their top line finds the fountain of youth for another deep playoff run. That would be fun to watch. But I’m not expecting it enough to bet it.

NYI – fair line at 206

The Islanders are just bad. They have an elite goalie, which always helps. But they will only win this series about 1/3 of the time and you will lose money, in the long run, betting them at the current line of 171. I’ll be watching this one but don’t expect it to move too much in the right direction to be a good bet.

WPG – fair line at 164

Like the Islanders, the Jets are a bad team propped up by great goaltending. But what’s unsaid is that all goaltending is inconsistent. We tend to zero in on the one goalie who led his team to victory after victory playing out of his mind. We tend to forget the other dozen playoff goalies who are equally as talented and just played normally or even underperformed in their playoff runs.

LA – fair line at 244

I really like watching the Kings. They are also a favorite of mine to play in DFS. But I will not be betting on them in this series. They are just outgunned, plain and simple.

MIN – fair line at 150

Losing Eriksson Ek is bad for them. He is their defensive glue in the center and even managed to develop his offensive skill set a bit this year, something which was lacking in years past. Fleury is also 38. We also don’t know how healthy Kaprisov is despite that he’s back.

SEA – fair line at 255

Embed from Getty Images
I’ll be watching this one closely because I really want any reason to fire a unit on the Kraken. We still don’t know Cale Makar’s health status and Colorado is just not a dominant team without him. One could also argue they are a lot better than their record indicates. They suffered from stretches of absolutely horrendous goaltending at times last year and that appears to finally be behind them. Matty Beniers has also emerged as a legitimate top-line center as a young rookie. Seattle has a bright future, but it’ll be a struggle to get out of the first round.

COL – fair line at -255

I used to believe that Nathan Mackinnon was one of the most underrated players in the NHL. I’d see Colorado at the top of the standings despite not having a very deep roster behind him and giving him most of the credit. While I stand by his greatness, Makar’s absence has firmly demonstrated that it was rather he who dictated whether the team thrived or not. And we still don’t know details about his health other than he should be back at some point. All this is troubling for a team currently listed at -281 odds.

2023 NHL Playoffs Betting Guide: Random Bits of Value

TOR -1.5 – 1% EV - fair line at 124

Lines to Watch and Line Shop – (but you should be line shopping anyway)

  • NJ -1.5 – fair line at 172, currently 171 on pinny
  • CAR -1.5 – fair line at 102, currently -101 on pinny
  • VGK -1.5 – fair line at 127, currently 122 on pinny
  • DAL -1.5 – fair line at 137, currently 135 on pinny
  • SEA +1.5 – fair line at 119, currently 115 on pinny

Lotto Tickets to Scratch That Probably Won’t Hit

  • BOS wins series 4-2 – fair line at 391, currently 394 on pinny
  • A fun way to bet Boston small, I could end up betting this soon
  • NYR sweep NJ – fair line at 1683, currently 1788 on pinny

Stick it to the bridge and tunnel crew in style

COL win series 4-2 – fair line at 409, currently 418 on pinny

I prefer the Seattle side, but this could be a fun one for the COL bettors

TOR win series 4-2 – fair line at 462, currently 470 on pinny

This is literally the perfect Leafs bet. This way when TOR goes 3-0 and loses the next four for a reverse sweep, you’ll experience the full roller coaster of emotions along the way. You get a faint bit of hope that they may get past the first round. You then console yourself with early losses that are necessary for the bet to win. And then reality sets back in. They lose yet another game seven and break your heart and bankroll in a 1-2 punch.

For max experience, I recommend you wager about $29.91 on this one. The closest roller coasters to Toronto are at Canada’s Wonderland, where $39.99 Canadian buys you a day pass. So save yourself the commute and use that fare on this coaster ride instead...

2023 NHL Playoffs Betting Guide: To Win the Conference

Here are my active wagers as well as a few others that are kinda close.

BOS win conference +180

This Boston team is arguably one of the best hockey teams ever put on ice. They’ve been dominant from start to finish. While it’s going to be tough to get value betting them in individual games and series, we like them a lot to win the conference. Just always line shop, there are a bunch of books that offer very different lines on conference and Cup winners and a lot of the lower ones are not +EV investments.

DAL win conference +705

Dallas has a fairly easy road ahead of them compared to the battle royale that will take place in the East. They have the best line in hockey that will be well-rested and handle massive loads of minutes. Top-heavy teams like Dallas can really shine when they have the opportunity to rest between games and not need to play the bottom six as often, who are their weak points. Toss in Oettinger in the net and I like it. But this is all fluff, I didn’t tell the model any of this, I just fed it data and we both had the same conclusion. That’s a beautiful thing.

EDM win conference +300

While we like Dallas, it’s still a distant 2nd to our favorite to win the West coming out of Edmonton. The public seems to be firmly on Colorado so this is in our favor and why we were about to find a good line to bet them at.

Lines to Watch

The Devils are +EV to bet to win the conference, but we’re passing unless those payouts get bigger as this is firmly Boston’s conference to win and they are big dogs to not get it done.

The Rangers, like New Jersey, if you line shopped you could get it in good but still in a lost cause.

2023 NHL Playoffs Betting Guide: Stanley Cup Winner!

DAL win Cup +1950

Stars are big long shots, but the payout is big enough at certain books to be worth wagering.

BOS win cup +320

A lot of places are hanging lines south of +275 so we were ecstatic to find a place that still had +320 up and hammered it. Kinda crazy to be betting a team to win the cup at only 3:1 before the first round but this Boston team is really just that good.

Closing Thoughts

Don’t forget to line shop. This isn’t about who we like to win. We genuinely love everyone to win. Anyone in this can win. So it’s not about “can they win” but rather “will they win frequently enough for the payout to justify the investment"? That answer is almost always no.

Feel free to bet whoever you like, but remember to line shop when you do it. Good luck, have fun, and stay within your means.

Check out more Betting content

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

F6P Badges Banner

Follow us on social media


A Six Pack of Fantasy Sports

Copyright © 2024 Fantasy Six Pack.