Best Bets for 2024 NHL Conference Finals

Best Bets for 2024 NHL Conference Finals

This article is part of our NHL Picks series.

NHL Bets: NHL Conference Finals Picks, Previews and Predictions

We're down to the final four in this year's edition of the Stanley Cup Playoffs! Round Two was so exciting. The Oilers-Canucks series exceeded all expectations going to Game 7. The Stars-Avs series was full of drama. The Bruins-Panthers series was an absolute slugfest. And the Hurricanes-Rangers series gave us some of those classic overtime games we love to see in the postseason. 

But now we're onto the Conference Finals! The Rangers and Panthers will drop the puck for Game 1 at Madison Square Garden tomorrow, and the Oilers will fly down to Dallas to get their series with the Stars rolling on Thursday. As we gear up for an exciting penultimate round before the showdown for the Cup, let's take a look at each series and carve out the best bets in each! Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. 

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NHL Eastern Conference Finals: Rangers vs Panthers Best Bets

These two teams have both been here before. The Rangers were last in the ECF two seasons ago, falling to the Lightning who eventually lost in the Cup final. The Panthers swept the Hurricanes in last year's ECF, only to lose the Stanley Cup to the Golden Knights in a gentleman's sweep of five games. 

Both clubs battened down the hatches this season in hopes of getting right where they are now. They were the top two teams in the East almost from wire to wire. The Rangers won the Presidents' Trophy with a team-record 114 points, but the Cats didn't trail too far behind with 110. The former needed 10 games to get to this point, and the latter took 11. The rosters are almost as even as they can be on paper. 

Stay up to date on the latest NHL Eastern Conference odds here at RotoWire.

The goaltender battle will be epic. Igor Shesterkin is arguably the best goalie in the playoffs so far, posting an 8-2 record with a 2.40 GAA and .923 save percentage. His Russian counterpart, Sergei Bobrovsky, is 8-3 with a 2.37 GAA and .902 save percentage. Both are previous Vezina winners and seem to be playing at the height of their respective powers right now.  

Both teams tout super deep forward groups with elite star power in the top six and battle-tested grinders in the bottom six. Vincent Trocheck has been arguably the best all-around performer out of any Rangers skater. He's tied with Mika Zibanejad for the team lead in points with 14, he wins almost every faceoff he takes, he creates chaos on the PK, and is just a matchup nightmare. He'll probably line up across from Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov who just won the Selke for being the best two-way forward in the league this season. He's got 13 points of his own too.  

Matthew Tkachuk and Artemi Panarin are two of the best offensive players on the planet, so it'll be interesting to see which can outduel the other. Chris Kreider and Carter Verhaeghe are both renowned for scoring huge goals at pivotal moments, giving each team a gamebreaker.  

Each D corps is deep, talented, and physical. Adam Fox got banged up in the first round against the Capitals, so the degree of his health might be a factor. Brandon Montour, Aaron Ekblad, and Gustav Forsling are perennial playoff performers and lead the team in time on ice per game in these playoffs.  

The Panthers have every ability to bully any team they face off against. The issue this round will be the Rangers can do the same with guys like Matt Rempe, Jacob Trouba, and K'Andre Miller. This will be a tough, hard-nosed, knock-'em-down-and-drag-'em-out series that should make for must-see TV.  

Not much separation to go on. I expect a long series that could come down to the final goal.  

Rangers-Panthers Expert Picks

Series Total Games - 7 Games (+210)

Total Overtime Games - Two (+250)

Player To Record 2+ Goals in Series - Vincent Trocheck (-145)

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NHL Western Conference Finals: Oilers vs Stars Best Bets

The Stars won the top seed in the West with their 113, falling one point shy of the Presidents' Trophy. What did they get in return? The defending Cup champion Golden Knights in the first round. The 2022 Cup champ Avalanche and the other-worldly talent of Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen in the second round. And now, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Oilers in the WCF. 

Edmonton did not have nearly as tough of a road to get here. They beat the Kings in five games in the first round, but needed seven games to eliminate the Canucks with all but one game being decided by one goal.  

The Stars dropped their first two games at home in the first round before winning four of five to knock the Knights out. Then they pretty much dominated the Avs in their second-round, 6-game series victory. The Stars actually have the second-best Stanley Cup odds out of the remaining field (+260) while the Oilers sit third at (+280). 

It's Cup or bust in Edmonton. McDavid literally said that before the season started. He's the best player on the planet, and perhaps the best player the game has seen in, well, forever. He's complemented by someone else who could be considered the best player on the planet in Draisaitl. These two can take over games unlike anyone else, with perhaps MacKinnon and Makar being the only others that could possibly be in the same argument. They lead all scorers in these playoffs. Draisaitl has 24 points and McDavid has 21. 

They've got firepower to back them up too. Evan Bouchard is a defenseman, but he's third in the postseason with 20 points, with 11 of those coming in the second round. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sit fourth in postseason scoring with 16 too. Zach Hyman leads all players with 11 goals. The Oilers' big guns have come to play, but the difference makers in this season will come from the lesser known names. Evander Kane needs to up his game, and role players like Dylan Holloway, Ryan McLeod, and Warren Foegele need to be noticeable. Mattias Ekholm leads a sturdy defensive unit. Darnell Nurse still has another level he can go to as well.  

Stuart Skinner was a question mark in net against Vancouver, with Calvin Pickard spelling him for two games. The question marks in the depth positions and between the pipes are what I'm keeping an eye on during the WCF for Edmonton.  

The Stars don't have much to nitpick. Roope Hintz is banged up, so that could leave a big gap in the lineup up the middle. But even without him, the Stars have Wyatt Johnston, Matt Duchene, and Tyler Seguin as their first three centers. Johnston has had a breakout postseason, scoring timely goals and leading the team with seven total. Duchene and Seguin are tried and trusty veterans yearning for a Cup run. Jamie Benn is one of the best captains a team could have in the postseason with his consistent two-way play. Jason Robertson is a superstar on the rise, so if he takes a step forward in this series, he could be a major factor.  

The Stars rolled out five D for most of the playoffs so far. Miro Heiskanen leads the team in points. Chris Tanev might be the best trade deadline acquisition in the league, as the guy has been an absolute monster on the back end. Eating pucks, throwing big hits, controlling the net front presence. The Oilers' speed is a lot for any team over a long series, so if Alex Petrovic can fill that sixth spot on the blue line, the Stars would be getting some much needed depth there.  

Jake Oettinger is hands down the better goalie in the series. He comes in with a .918 save percentage and 2.09 GAA, the best out of any goaltender who's played more than six games this postseason. This series will be a classic case of a high-powered offense going against an elite defensive unit, and Oettinger will be the X-factor in all of that. If he comes to play every game, the Stars have a chance to win this series sooner rather than later. 

Oilers-Stars Expert Picks

Total Overtime Games - One (+145)

10+ Goals Scored In Any Game - Yes (+120)

Most Goals in Series - Tyler Seguin vs Jamie Benn - Jamie Benn (-110)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grant Leonard
Former Junior B ice hockey player, and current believer that the Washington Capitals' aging core still has another Cup run left in the tank. Writing about hockey and sports betting for RotoWire since 2022.
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