Check out our latest picks for who will win the 2021 Stanley Cup.
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And then there were four. The second round of the 2021 NHL playoffs is officially set. The New York Islanders are taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning while the Montreal Canadiens will square off against the Vegas Golden Knights. This can mean only one thing: It's time for another batch of NHL playoff betting picks, only this time we'll be ranking every team's Stanley Cup odds.
Here is a look at every remaining squad's Stanley Cup lines entering Round 3 of the playoffs, courtesy of Bovada:
Remember to always double-check these Stanley Cup betting odds before committing to any wagers. The lines will move as each series unfolds or breaking news—such as a key injury—hits the mainstream.
NHL Playoff Picks: Stanley Cup Rankings
Our Stanley Cup pecking order will not merely be a list of every team's betting odds in ascending order. These are our actual picks.
We have ranked each team according to how likely it is they will win the 2021 Stanley Cup. The exercise will culminate in the No. 1 spot, which will belong to our official championship pick. Let's hit it.
4. Montreal Canadiens (+950)
The Canadiens are not long shots on accident. There is evidence that their run thus far is a little bit lucky.
Sneaking past the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 1 was huge. They were also outscored by four goals over the course of that seven-game series, suggesting some wonkiness with their offense.
Sweeping the Winnipeg Jets in Round 2 was impressive, and they put together two five-goal performances. But they're currently too reliant on getting near-perfect performances from goalkeeper Carey Price, who is stopping a playoff-leading 93.5 percent of the shots that come his way.
Mostly, we just don't like Montreal's third-round matchup. Advanced metrics peg the Golden Knights as the second-best team in the league when weighting point differential and strength of schedule, and they just dispatched what was supposed to be the league's standard-bearer, in the Colorado Avalanche.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (+225)
This might seem a little low for the Golden Knights. After all, we basically just said that we expect them to make the Stanley Cup Final.
Still, we can't get past the relatively lackluster performance of their offense so far. Their 8.6 shot percentage is noticeably lower than their regular-season average (9.2), and they're tallying just 2.8 scores per game in the playoffs, compared to 3.4 beforehand.
Without getting more consistent performances from wingers such as Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, they should be able to make it past the Canadiens, but they won't stand a chance against either of the two teams that follow.
2. New York Islanders (+550)
Offensive reinvention is fueling a truly incredible ascent from the Islanders.
During the regular season, they shot 7.9 percent from the ice, right around league average, while scoring just 2.7 goals per game. In the playoffs, they've been shooting 12 percent while putting in 3.8 scores per game.
Make no mistake, this is bonkers—and it doesn't appear to be a flash in the pan. It isn't just one or two players scraping by. The Islanders are dominating by committee. They have four players—Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson—who have notched at least 10 total points during the postseason.
In the event they get past the Lightning, this would be the team we pick to win it all. It's not a bad idea at all to jump on their 5.5-to-1 odds. There's a chance they're only going to get less bettor-friendly from here.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (+180)
And our Stanley Cup outright winner prediction is...the Lightning!
This isn't a spicy take. We get it. The Lightning has been the betting favorite ever since the Avalanche began their games-long implosion. But that's because they've earned it.
Last year's reigning champion is currently second in goals scored and second in average margin of victory for the postseason. Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point have both been monsters, combining for more than one-third of Tampa Bay's goals and nearly 30 percent of their total points.
Granted, the Lightning's offense has shown a tendency to fall off for a game or two at a time. That'd be the reason to doubt them under normal circumstances. But their defense has picked up to a ridiculous degree. Goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy is posting a save percentage of 93.4 and allowing just 2.3 goals per game overall.
Unlike the situation with Montreal, this performance feels sustainable because of the stellar shot deflection Tampa Bay gets from its defensemen. That's why we're counting on them to become just the second team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions over the past two decades.
Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your future NHL betting: