The NHL is heading into the business end of the season now, with the Pittsburgh Penguins seeking to win the Stanley Cup for the third year in a row. Ice hockey has been dominated by the Penguins of late, Mike Sullivan’s team cruising their way to a pair of richly deserved titles. No American team has won three or more Stanley Cup’s since the New York Islanders back in the 1980s, so the Penguins have a chance to write their names into the sport’s history books this year.
Betting on the NHL is a great way to make the game even more exciting and a lot of sports fans will be picking out their selections for the new season. However betting laws in the United States still hard to understand, how can you make sure you stay on the right side of the law? Hopefully regulation will happen soon to clarify who can bet and where, but for now a lot of people are in the dark.
Where is it legal to bet on sports in the United States?
Everyone knows that legal gambling is still heavily restricted across the United States. Las Vegas is one of the few places in America where people can gamble on whatever they choose, whether it is poker, slot machines, or the day’s big match in the NHL. Gambling has been present in the United States since the early settlers, but by the early 20th century betting had been outlawed throughout much of the country. Nevada was the first US state to legalise gambling and this enabled Las Vegas to grow into the city it is today.
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware have since followed suit in relaxing their gambling laws, so individuals in these three states can have a bet on the NHL without breaking the law. Various online betting sites have sprung up to take advantage of the change in legislation in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, so there is a decent choice of bookmakers too.
Choosing the right bookie can be tricky as they are so many options, but there is nothing stopping NHL fans from having accounts with various online sites.
What to expect from the NHL in 2018
The Penguins had a bad start to the season but there have been signs in the last few weeks that they are turning their form around. Qualifying for the play-offs is still going to be a tough task, but Pittsburgh have shown their winning mentality of late and they are still in the hunt. A run of successive home games are coming up for the champions and if they hit top form they can be a very dangerous team.
The Penguins are 22/1 to win the Stanley Cup for the third year in a row, which looks like it could be great value considering how they have triumphed against the odds a couple of times before. They will need a strong end to the season, however, as the Pens sit third-bottom in the Metropolitan division, having played more games than all the teams above them.
It is is very tight though and they are only a few points behind the New Jersey Devils, who sit in second spot behind the leaders, the Washington Capitals.
The Favorite: Tampa Bay Lightning
The current favorites for the 2018 Stanley Cup are the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are offered at around the 13/2 mark by most major online bookmakers. Tampa are top of the Eastern Conference with the best goal differential record in the division by a long way. They look like they could be the team to beat in the post-season games, although a short recent losing streak indicated they could be vulnerable.
Not far behind the Lightning in the NHL betting odds are the Vegas Golden Knights, who are top of the tree in the Western Conference having claimed 31 wins from their 46 games played. Vegas can still be backed at 14/1 to win the Stanley Cup this year, although the lack of post-season experience in the 2017 expansion team could be their downfall.
Nashville Predators cannot be discounted either, having reached the final of the Stanley Cup last season only for the quality of Pittsburgh to shine through for the second year in a row.
The Predators are third in the Western Conference, only a handful of points behind Vegas, and they will be determined to go one step better than they managed a year ago. They should reach the play-offs at the very least and then anything can happen, as all hockey fans know. Nashville are offered at around the 14/1 mark in the Stanley Cup betting and they have a great chance of making it through the play-offs again this season.
Short and Long Shots
For an outside chance, NHL fans could be tempted by the Colorado Avalanche, who can be backed at odds as large as 45/1 to claim the Stanley Cup title this season. Victory at the Toronto Maple Leafs extended Colorado’s winning streak to 10 matches in a row. Nathan MacKinnon has been in fine form, but the run will surely come to an end soon. The Avalanche were not expected to be in the running for the Stanley Cup this season but they have proved over the last few weeks that they are a better team than many had expected.
Winning the Stanley Cup would be an incredible story for this team and while their chances still look slim, at such massive odds plenty of people will be tempted into a small wager. The second wildcard spot in the Western Conference is well within their reach at the moment. Colorado ended last season with an NHL-worst 48 points but they are on the charge right now. They won 12 straight during the 1998-99 season but are on track to set a new Avalanches record if they can keep up their strong form for just a little while longer.
Another team at attractive odds is the Los Angeles Kings, who have slipped to 25/1 in the Stanley Cup betting after a recent poor run of results. Sitting fourth in the Pacific Division, the Kings are only a couple of results away from getting back into contention for a run deep into the post-season. Having won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, the LA Kings certainly know what it takes to go all the way and although the current team cannot match that vintage, they have the experience.