Tough Road Ahead: Philadelphia Flyers Still Fighting For Stanley Cup Playoff Spot

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 13, 2021 - Last Updated on April 30, 2021

Buy, sell or hold? The NJ sports betting crowd pondered what role the Philadelphia Flyers would play in the recently-passed NHL trading deadline.

A pivotal five-game stretch last week was supposed to provide an answer.

It didn’t.

Philadelphia’s choppy performance – five points and a 2-2-1 record – cemented them as mild sellers, with one hold, at trading time.

The Flyers traded no major names, retained one player, and remain intact, starting the week four points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Eastern Division playoff spot. There are 15 games left in the 56-game campaign.

Up first is tonight’s game at the Washington Capitals.


What are the Flyers’ odds of making the playoffs?

The Bruins, conversely, have an ultra-friendly schedule with four home games this week between the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, and Washington Capitals.

The Bruins also have two games in hand over the Flyers and play three consecutive games next week against the Sabres, the league’s worst (albeit a recently rejuvenated) team.

The Flyers have the same record as the New York Rangers. But that matters less than catching the Bruins.

If Philadelphia does no worse than stay four points out of the playoffs throughout this week, it will be a mini victory. The Flyers later have four straight games against the non-playoff-bound New Jersey Devils if they can make that stretch meaningful.

The Flyers will look only mildly different for the rest of the season. The highlight of their trade-deadline action was sending left winger Michael Raffl to the Capitals for a fifth-round pick.

They also dealt defenseman Erik Gustafsson to the Montreal Canadiens for a seventh-round pick in 2022.

The Flyers also signed Scott Laughton to a five-year deal. Maintaining Laughton, whose 17 points had actually attracted trade rumors, is at least one indication the Flyers won’t unfurl a fire sale

But they are struggling.

How did the Flyers odds plummet to +7500 to win the Stanley Cup at DraftKings Sportsbook, after they were in the +2500 range when the season began in January? In recent weeks, their defense collapsed. A 9-0 mid-March trouncing at the hands of the Rangers was a foreshadowing.

And last week confirmed they can’t reach an elite level.

There were two wins in three matchups versus the Bruins and an overtime loss to the New York Islanders did not hurt, because the Flyers at least obtained a point.

But Sunday’s loss to the Sabres, in retrospect, may end up being a dagger.

Philadelphia surrendered three late goals and lost 5-3 to the NHL’s worst team, which somehow has beaten the Flyers three times this year. A potential four-point pickup weekend against Boston vanished.

Expanding the NHL betting horizon

Even if the Flyers drop from the playoff picture this week, New Jersey fans can bet the NHL all the way into July.

Sportsbooks have widened the betting menu and it’s attractive all over the league.

The lineup has several levels and there are ways to hone in on an angle.

First is the classic agenda of the money line, the goals line, and the over-under totals.

The key is finding the value.

The moneyline simply determines who wins the game and a perceived even matchup is bettable on both sides. But a strong favorite may be -200 and you’ll need to lay -1.5 goals to get a good price, hoping the team wins by at least two scores.

What if you like the underdog, as in the Flyers in at least their first two contests this week?

The moneyline will present solid odds, but getting 1.5 goals will usually be expensive.

The over-under totals depend not only on the goalies (backups may yield perhaps half a goal more per game) although that’s not scientific but on the time of the season.

Teams play closer to the vest in late-season games, especially during a third-period tie. They often take the one point and try for the second in overtime.

A number of late-season games have landed exactly on five goals in years past. That’s hard to bet the “over” or “under”

Finding gold in NHL player props

But there are other wagering levels addressing the pursuit of a nice payout.

And they are there every night with player props.

Monday night, a last-place team provided magic and a clue to how New Jersey bettors can find some.

When the San Jose Sharks hosted the Anaheim Ducks, this was the William Hill prop board for the two-leading goal-scorers on each team.

Evander Kane, the Sharks’ leading goal scorer was +163 to tally anytime and +275 to score with the favored Sharks prevailing in 60 minutes.

He was +750 for scoring first and +1150 if he scored first with the Sharks winning in 60 minutes.

Teammate Logan Couture, the second-leading scorer, returned+200, +340, +1000, and +1400 for the same categories.

But when Anaheim scored a 4-0 road upset, even bigger prices emerged.

The Ducks’ leading scorer Max Comtois returned a whopping +275, +900, +1400, and +4000 on the prop. That’s because the Ducks entered the game with only 12 wins.

Well now it’s 13 and Comtois did light the lamp first, setting off the sports-betting equivalent of bells and whistles.

The Ducks are dead last in the West and won’t make the playoffs, but a $2 bet for them to win with Comtois scoring first paid $80.

For him to simply score first got you $28. Comtois scoring at all in the Ducks win fetched $18. Just the goal itself was worth $5.50.

These are $2 bets. Imagine if you had an inkling with a $5. That’s $200 for the first score by Comtois in the Ducks win.

And you didn’t have to follow either team to get this. Take the leading one or two scorers on any club, plug them into this pre-game formula, and hope for magic. There’s always some.

Your team can be out of it, but your heart can always be in it.

Time will tell if the Flyers will be one of those teams that will be out of the Stanley Cup Playoff mix.

Photo by AP/Matt Slocum
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and others. He writes about all major sports in the booming legal New Jersey sports betting industry. Dave also hosts the Why Eagles Why podcast. Dave is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the Atlantic City International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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