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2019-20 Stanley Cup futures odds: Stars’ stock rises

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We are nearing the busiest time in the NHL regular season where teams near the top of the standings stock up on rental players for the playoffs while others are trying desperately to save their season and make sure they are still on the ice come spring. We look at the favorites, longshots, and all the odds to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup this June.

Atlantic Division rivals Tampa Bay and Boston lead the way as betting favorites at online sportsbook Bet365 (as of Feb. 19, 2020). Through 60 games each, the Lightning trail the Bruins by one point in the standings but oddsmakers seem to lean towards Tampa Bay making a deeper run into the playoffs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, a Stanley Cup betting favorite for some before the season began, have underachieved all season. They are currently clinging to a playoff spot and their futures odds have dropped to +2,200 after being as short as +800 earlier this season.

The Edmonton Oilers have improved on their opening odds on the back of Leon Draisitl and Connor McDavid having stellar campaigns and they now sit at +1,800. The Dallas Stars, who have won 13 of 19 in 2020, have seen their stock creep to a promising +1,100, while the defending-champion St. Louis Blues currently sit at +1,000.

Odds to win the 2019-20 Stanley Cup

Team Odds to win 2019-20 Stanley Cup
Tampa Bay Lightning +450
Boston Bruins +550
Pittsburgh Penguins +800
St Louis Blues +1,000
Dallas Stars +1,100
Colorado Avalanche +1,100
Washington Capitals +1,100
Vegas Golden Knights +1,500
Edmonton Oilers +1,800
Vancouver Canucks +2,200
Toronto Maple Leafs +2,200
New York Islanders +2,200
Carolina Hurricanes +2,200
Philadelphia Flyers +2,200
Colombus Blue Jackets +2,800
Calgary Flames +2,800
Arizona Coyotes +3,000
Florida Panthers +3,000
Nashville Predators +3,500
Winnipeg Jets +3,500
Minnesota Wild +5,500
New York Rangers +6,000
Chicago Blackhawks +6,600
Buffalo Sabres +15,000
Montreal Canadiens +17,500
San Jose Sharks +20,000
Anahiem Ducks +30,000
Los Angeles Kings +150,000
New Jersey Devils +150,000
Ottawa Senators +150,000
Detroit Red Wings +499,900

Understanding Stanley Cup Odds

Sportsbooks will post odds for the Stanley Cup before the season starts. These odds are constantly adjusted throughout the offseason as players get hurt, suspended or are traded. Once the regular season begins, title odds will change daily as teams win and lose games and as more players get hurt, suspended or traded. Sportsbooks will also adjust the NHL odds based on handle and liability to certain teams.

Stanley Cup odds will usually look like this:

  • Washington Capitals +250

This means that on a $100 bet, you’ll stand to win $250 if the Caps win the Stanley Cup. If it’s close to the end of the regular season or even during the playoffs and the NHL has a very dominant team, you might see that a team is has a minus sign (-) ahead of its odds.

  • Tampa Bay Lightning  -120

This means that you would need to bet $120 to win $100 on a Lightning Stanley Cup win.

Above we have posted the American odds for the Stanley Cup. However, these are easy to convert to decimal odds or fractional odds with our odds converter tool.

How to bet NHL Futures Odds

There are many strategies to consider when making a futures bet on the winner of the Stanley Cup Finals. Obviously, you’re looking to bet on who you think can make it through the NHL playoffs and come out on top. So just because a team is in first place at midseason, doesn’t mean that’s the team to beat come May and June.

One thing to consider is the current NHL playoffs format, where the top three teams from each conference plus two wild card teams make up the eight teams from each conference. Then, a team needs to win its way out of its division before getting to the conference championship round. This season, Tampa Bay and Boston are the two top teams in the entire league but they are on a collision course to meet in the second round of the playoffs.

Also, consider how an injury may affect a futures bet. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is playing out of his mind at the moment and hasn’t lost in regulation since Dec. 14, 2019. But what if he gets hurt? Tampa Bay would then turn to backup Curtis McElhinney and its odds would drop considerably, meaning there would be value in other Eastern Conference teams like the Bruins and Penguins.

Finally, the trade deadline occurs on February 24, 2020. Almost every year, some contenders will make big moves to bolster their rosters — and their odds to win it all. Keep an eye on trade moves and if you see a contender add an impact player, try to get your bet in before oddsmakers update the lines.

Longshots to consider when betting the Shoemaker Mile

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Monday’s Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park is a great race for a number of reasons. For starters, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race that offers the winner a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The race also features last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, War of Will, making his season debut. Despite his triumphs on the dirt in 2019, War of Will started his career on the turf and his pedigree suggests that he’s very likely to be just as successful on the grass. That said, the Shoemaker Mile will be his first start off of a six-month break, and I’m going to try to take a swing or two with some horses who could upset the apple cart at longer odds.

Let’s start out with the horse on the rail, Without Parole. He won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes going a mile at Ascot back in 2018. His three other career wins have all came at this mile distance as well. Granted, he hasn’t won in six races since the St. James’s Palace but he did finish a fast-closing third two starts ago in a much tougher U.S. debut in the TVG Breeders’ Cup MileIrad Ortiz Jr. rode Without Parole in that race and he will reclaim the mount on him again on Monday.

Without Parole has only had one race this year and it was in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in which he finished second to last. However, he had several excuses right from the start of that race when he got squeezed coming out of the gate. He also raced in traffic throughout and got cut off several times in the stretch before Frankie Dettori — who had come from Europe to ride him at Gulfstream — finally just wrapped up on him. The Pegasus World Cup Turf also was a race that didn’t allow him to run on Lasix (furosemide) after he’d shown significant improvement racing on Lasix for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup.

Stream the 2020 Shoemaker Mile live here

How much of a factor might Lasix be for some horses? Well, let’s next look at the horse who finished last in the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Next Shares. In his following start (back on Lasix) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, Next Shares finished third (beaten just a neck) to River Boyne. Both Next Shares and River Boyne return in the Shoemaker Mile and I prefer the former as a pace play who has plenty of back-class. If you rewatch the Kilroe Mile, Next Shares covered a lot more ground than River Boyne. With a similar effort, Next Shares could certainly turn the tables.

The other thing to like about Next Shares is that his trainer, Richard Baltas, has entered speedster Neptune’s Storm in the Shoemaker Mile. That horse, along with Voodoo Song, should ensure a very brisk pace up front — they’ll also be kept honest by Blitzkrieg and War of Will, both of whom usually race on or near the lead. All of that speed adds up to good news for Next Shares. He’s a Grade 1 winner who has always done his best running when he’s had some pace to run into. The other two keys for him (like all stalking or closing-type runners) is clear running room late, and hopefully he’ll get that with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking the mount.

Lastly, we should take a look at True Valour. It’s hard to make much of an excuse for his flat finish in the Kilroe last out, but he’s truly performed better than what his results on paper might indicate. In the Thunder Road Stakes in February, he looked pretty keen early and it took him a few strides to settle down without throwing his head around and fighting his rider. Turning for home, it was clear that jockey Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him but was just waiting for some running room. It ended up coming too late because River Boyne was in a better spot and had already taken command. True Valour did split horses nicely in the closing stages and was half a jump away from finishing second.

If you go back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, True Valour had excuses there, too. He was up on heels early and he again took a little bit of time to settle down into a comfortable stride. Then, turning for him, he was just waiting for running room but instead got stuck behind a wall of horses. True Valour ended up steadying pretty badly and lost all chance at that point. I’m a little worried about how headstrong he tends to be early in races, but there’s a scenario here that could have at least two horses battling for the lead early and opening up some daylight on the rest of the field. That means he’ll be less likely to be running up on anyone’s heels and it also ensures that he’ll have a nice setup. Whether he can navigate clear passage late in the race is a separate matter.

Longshot Selections

#1 Without Parole

#3 Next Shares

#2 True Valour

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

How to bet an exacta on a horse race

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Betting an exacta can present a challenge on several levels.

There is, of course, the primary need to analyze past performances and decide which horses are going to finish first and second.

Yet because of the inherently lower payoffs as opposed to what you’ll find in a Pick 3 or Pick 4, you’ll need to structure your wagers effectively in order to turn your selections into a profitable wager.

For starters, an exacta can be a simple wager. If you like two horses equally, you can just box them in the exacta and collect so long as they finish 1-2 in any order. If you like one of them a little more, you can then bet more on the one you prefer, say $10 on a 1-2 exacta and $5 on 2-1.

If you’re a little more uncertain, make sure you structure your bet around the size of the field and the probable payoffs.

If you like a longshot, the higher probable payoffs give you the cushion you need to wager on more combinations and still turn a nice profit.

But if you’re dealing with favorites or horses at relatively low odds, you have to wager more efficiently to preserve your profit.

In a field of six or less, you’re best to either focus on one horse or box two of them instead of boxing three or more horses because of the small payouts the bet will most likely generate.

In a field of seven, a wise strategy would be to box your top two choices and then, if you are worried about other horses, play them top and/or bottom other the other horses. For example, box 1-2, then bet 1-2 over 3-4 and 3-4 over 1-2. This way you are getting coverage on four horses without having to box them.

Once you get an eight-horse field, as long as there is not an overwhelming favorite, you can expand the number of horses you box since the payoffs will typically be higher, giving you a better opportunity to offset the inevitable array of losing tickets in a boxed wager.