Best Stanley Cup playoff value bets
Ben Arledge

If there's a time when you see an uptick in hockey betting, it's the NHL playoffs. This year's pack of 16 teams vying for a championship is loaded with talent.The Nashville Predators are the favorite to win it all at 4-1, with the Tampa Bay Lightning right behind them at 5-1.For what it's worth, the Lightning are my pick to win the Stanley Cup this year, but at 5-1, I'm passing right now to see how the first round plays out. Those odds won't drastically change.Here's a look at some of the best value bets to win the Cup, as well as analysis on the better series prices of the opening round.Note: All odds are via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, as of April 10.

Best Stanley Cup bets

Winnipeg Jets (8-1)<offer style="box-sizing: border-box;"></offer>The Jets now have the third-best odds to win the Stanley Cup, despite closing the season second in the league to the Predators with 114 points. Patrik Laine tallied 44 goals this season, while Blake Wheeler dropped 91 points. In all, the team had four 60-point players and five 20-goal scorers, helping Winnipeg to the second-best goals per game mark at 3.33. On the back end, Connor Hellebuyck was stellar all season, and the defensive group is solid. There's a lot to like here, despite a lack of playoff experience throughout the roster.
Boston Bruins (8-1)Boston kept suffering injuries to key players in the final two months of the season -- and just kept winning hockey games. It was truly incredible to watch the battered group continue to record points in the standings. And now most of those players are healthy again. Both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak cracked 80 points, and Patrice Bergeron joined them in the 30-goal club despite missing 18 games this season. Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy are lightning rods from the blue line, and Tuukka Rask has been adequate in his 53 starts. The Toronto Maple Leafs will be a tough test in the opening round, and Tampa Bay is likely on deck in Round 2, but the Bruins will be a tough team to beat. Those 8-1 odds might be the best you see for this team at any point hereafter this season.
Pittsburgh Penguins (8-1)The Pens were 6-1 on Monday afternoon, then 7-1. Now they sit at 8-1, so it would be nuts not to at least look at the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs. I do think they've slowed a bit since last season, especially on the back end, but this team can score and has the pedigree to get the job done. Put it this way: Sidney Crosby's 89 points ranked third on the team this season. Third. The Penguins netted 3.29 goals per game and had the league's best power play at 26.2 percent. The concern here is more on the back end.Matt Murray was not great this season, sitting in just 44th place in even-strength save percentage (.911). Yes, he's been fantastic in the playoffs for two straight years, but his numbers this season are concerning. If there's a reason for pause on the Pens at 8-1, he's probably it. And he might just decide to get hot at the right time. Pittsburgh has a pretty decent path to the conference finals and has the roster to make it three straight championships.
Toronto Maple Leafs (14-1)The Leafs are better than they are given credit for. Third in a division behind two juggernauts, Toronto posted outstanding numbers this season. Auston Matthews is back on the ice for the Leafs, helping lock down three lines of offensive depth. Frederik Andersen is a talented goalie and comes with plenty of playoff experience. The area of concern is the blue line, as it still seems like a huge miss that the Maple Leafs failed to go get a defenseman at the trade deadline. Opening against a team that posted 3.26 goals per game and likely to see a team that led the league with 3.54 goals per game in the second round, that blue-line deficiency could loom large. Still, at 14-1, you have to like the balance of talent on offense, the underrated goaltending of Andersen and the coaching smarts of Mike Babcock behind the bench.
One long shot

Los Angeles Kings (25-1)These are pretty long odds for a team that just sneaked into the playoffs, but you have to feel good about the core here. Jonathan Quick is arguably the best money goalie when it comes to the playoffs right now, and he's coming off his best regular season in years. Dustin Brown reemerged with 61 points, and Anze Kopitar made a case for the Hart Trophy with his 92 points and strong two-way play at center. To be clear, this is a long-shot bet, but it's one you can make with some confidence, rather than flinging a dart. The Kings also sit in that Pacific Division part of the West bracket, so the path to the conference final is a little lighter. And if they manage to get there, perhaps all that experience this team has to offer provides the necessary added boost to get the rest of the way. As an additional note, the 10-1 odds to win the West are also perhaps worth a look.
One big favorite

Field (-2000) vs. Vegas Golden KnightsThe sportsbooks provided a prop bet to hedge the liability they currently have on the Golden Knights winning it all, allowing bettors to bet the field against them. At -2000, the odds aren't fantastic. I liked it a whole lot better at -1100 on Monday, but it is still worth a consideration now. Vegas is currently the sixth favorite at Westgate, and for good reason. The storybook inaugural season was downright impressive and deserves plenty of recognition, but the playoffs are a different beast. The top point-getters for the Knights were William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault. They are fantastic players, but in crunch time in a seven-game series -- or four of them -- I'd rather be relying on the Crosbys and the Kucherovs and the Bergerons and the Forsbergs. There are too many elite teams that will stand in the way for this young team. If I had to pick here, I'd lean with the field despite the price.

Best Round 1 series bets

Los Angeles Kings (+120) over Vegas Golden KnightsFor reasons outlined above, I like the Kings over the Knights in the opening set. I think it has the potential to go seven (Kings in seven games is currently +550), but I don't see Kopitar, Quick and the rest of the L.A. squad dropping the series to this expansion team in Year 1. If you are hesitant to bet the field against the Knights because of the -2000 price, perhaps this is a better landing spot. Of all the 1-seed teams, I think Vegas is the most likely to fall to its wild-card challenger.Toronto Maple Leafs (+125) over Boston Bruins
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Listen, Boston is dominant. When I looked for statistical weaknesses for every playoff team, Boston was perhaps the toughest to find one for. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that Toronto has a great team, as well. As far as potential upsets go, this is one that I circled. Matthews is healthy again, and Toronto got a taste of the playoffs last season. I wouldn't write them off just yet, despite the tall task of surviving a seven-game series against Beantown. I know I have Boston as a value bet for the Cup, but this price is too good to pass up on Toronto.Columbus Blue Jackets (+110) over Washington CapitalsThis is another potential upset. Washington's goaltending is a question mark right now, as Braden Holtby continues to hunt for a path out of his current funk (Philipp Grubauer will start Game 1), and the Caps' playoff shortcomings are well documented. But this is more about the underestimation of the Blue Jackets. Artemi Panarin is a star (82 points), and Seth Jones is the next big thing on the blue line. In goal, Sergei Bobrovsky has struggled in the playoffs, but he's still the type of goalie who can get molten hot at any time.