Vegas oddsmakers do not like to lose money, this is fact. A knowledgeable team of professionals create preseason odds attempting to minimize damage to the House in terms of money paid out. While there is no way of truly knowing what will transpire throughout the course of a season that may positively or negatively influence the performance of all 30 NHL clubs, the bookies in Vegas use logic and skill to project the most likely Stanley Cup winners. This post will use the rankings from 6 Vegas oddsmakers to create the final NHL regular season standings. This post is not about gambling, it’s about using an unconventional method to create pre-season predictions. If you want details on Vegas Stanley Cup odds, you know where to find them.
How it works, is simple. Using six widely distributed Stanley Cup odds’ lists, The Hockey Daily will give points to NHL teams with the five lowest odds per division, which varies from list to list.
The team with the highest ranking (lowest odds) in each division will receive 5 points.
The team with the second highest ranking (lowest odds) per division will receive 4 points.
3rd highest ranking will receive 3 points.
4th highest ranking will receive 2 points.
5th highest ranking will receive 1 point.
All teams that finish outside the top five in their respective divisions will receive 0 points.
*If two teams share the same odds, for example, the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs both appear at 30/1 on one list – both those teams will receive the same amount of points, tying them for whatever position they place in.
This is an experiment, more than a prediction. The end results will provide a potential 1st round Stanley Cup Playoffs scenario, nothing more.
Vegas Odds Final Regular Season Standings
Vegas Odds Predict The First Round Of The 2013-14 Stanley Cup Playoffs Will Look Like This:
Western Conference – Central Division
Western Conference – Pacific Division
Eastern Conference – Atlantic Division
1. Boston Bruins vs WC1 Toronto Maple Leafs*
2. Detroit Red Wings vs 3. Montreal Canadiens
Eastern Conference – Metropolitan Division
The Results Explained
Using 6 different oddsmakers’ lists, the end results were pretty safe. As you can see, the obvious choices scored the highest at the tops of their respective divisions. Last season’s Conference finalists the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins project as favourites to win their divisions in 2013-14. Reality, could be very different. It’s not uncommon for last season’s finalist or Cup winner to coast into the playoffs in a lower seed.
Teams with stars beside their names are Wild Card teams. For a full explanation of how the NHL Realignment system works, check out this informative article by TSN. Basically, the top three teams in each division make the playoffs. The two next best records in the conference also make the playoffs as Wild Card teams, regardless of the division they play in. The team with the most points in the Eastern Conference plays the Wild Card team with the least amount of points in the Eastern Conference. And it works exactly the same in the Western Conference.
In the above 2014 1st round playoff match up mock up, the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins regularly topped Vegas preseason Cup favourite odds’ lists. Therefore, in this projection they are setup to play the lower scoring of the two Wild Card teams. In the East, it is the Philadelphia Flyers, in the West, it’s the Edmonton Oilers.
There are some very interesting omissions from this projection. The Ottawa Senators regularly scored lower than the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in spite of the fact they went further than either team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. For whatever reason, Vegas doesn’t believe in the Ottawa Senators at the moment.
The New York Islanders, a playoff team from 2013, have also been snubbed by Vegas. Last season’s 8th seed in the Eastern Conference appear to be a team on the rise, not the decline.
In the West, the Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames regularly finished way down near the bottom of the odds’ lists. These omissions are especially fascinating because two of these teams are only a year removed from strong performances, including a trip to the 2nd round of the playoffs for the Preds, and a trip to the Conference Finals for the Coyotes.
Last season’s Pacific Division winners, the Anaheim Ducks, do not have numbers on their side to repeat as division champs in this projection.
In the end, these projections are over the top safe, as they should be, because they are based on probability, leaving teams with the most “what ifs” at the bottom of the pile as far as contenders are concerned. In reality, things are going to go wrong for good teams and things are going to go right for unexpected teams, creating a much different playoff picture come next April.