b log

Jun 14 2020

NHL 🏆 winner odds and predictions for the 2020 playoffs

📣 We will update the latest Cup winner predictions here in this post, as the playoffs progress.

Predicting the Stanley Cup winner

Playoff time, it's here finally (or at least in a few months 😃) !

Anyway, once the playoff format for 24 teams was announced by the NHL, I wanted to publish our predictions for winning the Cup as soon as possible. The system needed some tweaking, as this time, the number of rounds to play is not equal for all teams, unlike in the typical 16 team playoffs we are used to - hence the small delay in releasing the results.

Without further ado, here are the predictions:

Probability to win the Stanley Cup
Tampa Bay Lightning53.05 %1.89
Dallas Stars46.95 %2.13


Stanley Cup winner prediction (after 2nd round)
Tampa Bay Lightning27.21 %3.68
Vegas Golden Knights24.91 %4.01
Dallas Stars24.24 %4.13
New York Islanders23.64 %4.23


Stanley Cup winner prediction (after 1st round)
Tampa Bay Lightning13.5 %7.41
Boston Bruins12.79 %7.82
Philadelphia Flyers12.66 %7.9
Colorado Avalanche12.61 %7.93
Vancouver Canucks12.47 %8.02
Vegas Golden Knights12.37 %8.08
Dallas Stars11.98 %8.35
New York Islanders11.63 %8.6


Stanley Cup winner prediction (after Round Robin and qualification series)
Tampa Bay Lightning7.07 %14.14
Boston Bruins6.73 %14.86
Colorado Avalanche6.47 %15.46
Philadelphia Flyers6.4 %15.62
Vancouver Canucks6.35 %15.75
Carolina Hurricanes6.34 %15.77
Washington Capitals6.27 %15.95
Vegas Golden Knights6.25 %16.0
St. Louis Blues6.25 %16.0
Dallas Stars6.14 %16.29
New York Islanders6.06 %16.5
Chicago Blackhawks6.0 %16.67
Calgary Flames5.99 %16.69
Montreal Canadiens5.94 %16.84
Arizona Coyotes5.92 %16.89
Columbus Blue Jackets5.84 %17.12


Stanley Cup winner prediction
Tampa Bay Lightning7.34 %13.63
Boston Bruins6.86 %14.57
Philadelphia Flyers6.74 %14.85
Colorado Avalanche6.67 %14.99
Vegas Golden Knights6.66 %15.02
Washington Capitals6.53 %15.31
St. Louis Blues6.36 %15.73
Dallas Stars6.21 %16.1
Winnipeg Jets3.1 %32.25
Pittsburgh Penguins3.09 %32.38
New York Rangers3.06 %32.65
Carolina Hurricanes2.97 %33.69
Minnesota Wild2.96 %33.73
Nashville Predators2.96 %33.8
Edmonton Oilers2.95 %33.89
Calgary Flames2.95 %33.94
Toronto Maple Leafs2.93 %34.11
Florida Panthers2.93 %34.15
Vancouver Canucks2.92 %34.21
New York Islanders2.92 %34.23
Chicago Blackhawks2.79 %35.82
Columbus Blue Jackets2.77 %36.15
Montreal Canadiens2.72 %36.74
Arizona Coyotes2.61 %38.33

How we predict the postseason

I want to emphasize right away that the predictions above are derived from the performance of the teams in the '19 - '20 regular season. More precisely, we looked how the teams got along in games, in relation with our AI predictions for those games. In other words, if a game was a "tough one" based on our data and analysis model, but the team won it, they gained more power out of it. And vice versa for lost "easy" games, and to go on, losing a tough game did not decrease the power measure as much as losing an easier game.

After adding up all the power relations from individual games, prioritizing the first games of the season less than the most recent games, categorizing the games between the teams within conference, playoffs and non-playoff teams, and finally between playoff series teams, and taking the preliminary rounds into account, we arrived to the end result.


In the playoffs, any team is capable of winning it all.

As is the case for all of our predictions, also the SC winner predictions should be used only as a base for a betting strategy. We can only provide the estimations derived from prior game data, but it's your decision to wager based on our predictions. Especially in the playoffs, where any team can win it all, and this is my honest opinion, it is somewhat ridiculous to predict the winner only with regular season data. On the other hand, that is the latest information available - I don't think looking back even to the last season playoffs would help. For instance, do You think Columbus will blank Tampa Bay again, in case they meet during the playoffs? Or how much should that series be weighted in the analysis, or should it be treated as an outlier?

Betting tips

Until we can access the stress level data of the players, i.e. read their minds, we are always left in the dark to some extent, when we try to predict game outcomes and how the results of past games affect it. But that's the beauty in the NHL playoffs - every game is a new battle. Here are some tools and thoughts to improve your betting, alongside with our predictions.

  1. Compare our predictions with the bookmaker odds. In general, if a casino offers only to five-fold your money if Tampa Bay wins the Cup, and there are 16 teams still in the Cup hunt, it's a bad deal probabilitywise, so look elsewhere.
  2. Examine the injury lists of the teams. For instance, Tarasenko will return for the playoffs for the Blues, meaning his contribution is excluded from our regular season analysis and hence from the playoff predictions. He is the type of a player who can dictate a whole playoff series. Another guy returning from injury is Guentzel, and he is a playoff stud - 24 goals and over a point per game in 41 playoff games. I would anticipate him continuing from where he left (20g, 23a in 39 regular season games).
  3. Due the coronavirus, the 2020 NHL playoffs are something that we have never seen before. The main difference is that the games are played in front of empty seats: there is no "home ice advantage" (except the rule advantages), players can't feel the energy of the spectators, and players won't feel the pressure from the audience when they are down a goal or mishandle the puck. As the game locations are fixed, all teams prepare for the games in identical conditions.

Now, I'm no clairvoyant, but I expect goalies to perform better than usual. It is easier to focus on the puck and see the ice when there is no distraction from the fans. Moreover, the arenas are going to be literally silent, meaning that the players and coaches can better communicate with each other, an important thing when protecting your own goal.

In general, the quality of play will improve, and the games will be faster than ever. It is easier to keep your cool in the middle of a game, when the emotions of the fans don't reach you. Guys like Niklas Backstrom and Aleksander Barkov will execute their plays as usual, but with even higher precision. Also guys like Tom Wilson and Cal Clutterbuck have to focus more on making plays (if they have soft enough hands) instead of hitting everything that moves, because now delivering a hit generates no energy from the empty seats. As a consequence, the number of hits in a game will decrease, and the saved energy will translate into more fast paced games. Therefore, I anticipate fast and skilled teams benefiting from the special circumstances more, than the teams that boast more unskilled heavy hitters.

What an epic playoff summer we are about to witness! Check back soon, I will post our preliminary round series predictions and round robin tournament winner predictions in a few days!