NHL Stanley Cup Preview & Betting Guide

Updated: 1971 Ice Hockey

We look ahead to the 2024 NHL season and who are the main contenders to lift the Stanley Cup in 2024, can the Vegas Golden Knights back up their maiden win or will it be a new name on the cup?

NHL Stanley Cup Preview & Betting Guide
Andy Powell Content Editor

Horse Racing stats man, Andy has contributed to OLBG for 18 years - An Ipswich fan and F1 fanatic, he also contributes EFL football and Motor Sport opinion.

NHL Stanley Cup Preview & Betting Guide

In this blog, we will look ahead to the new season of the NHL, which teams are in with a chance of lifting the Stanley Cup? Look back at last season and give you links to everything you need for the new season.

We also look back at previous Stanley Cups to see which teams perform well and which do not.

We also look at the record of how the conference winners get on depending on how games it took to win their conference finals.

2022-23 NHL Season Recap

The western conference winners, the Vegas Golden Knights, made it to their fourth post-season in their short history and in only their fifth full season lifted the Stanley Cup for the first time. The Boston Bruins topped the eastern conference after an impressive regular season amassing a total of one hundred and thirty-five points, which was twenty-four more than the eventual Stanley Cup champions!

Regular Season Top Point Scorers

  1. Connor McDavid (EDM) 153pts (64 Goals, 89 Assists)
  2. Leon Draisaitl (EDM) 128pts (52 Goals, 76 Assists)
  3. David Pastrnak (BOS) 113pts (61 Goals, 52 Assists)
  4. Nikita Kucherov (TBL) 111pts (30 Goals, 83 Assists)
  5. Nathan MacKinnon (COL) 108pts (42 Goals, 69 Assists)

Conor McDavid had yet another impressive season for the Oilers and topped the point scorers for the third season running, he has now finished in the top two for the past seven seasons including being top in five of those as he is really putting his name in the record books as one of the most consistent NHL players of all-time.

Who won the 2023 Stanley Cup?

The Vegas Golden Knights made rather easy work of the NHL 2023 playoffs, they only gave up six games over the four rounds, opening with a 4-1 win over the Jets, they then defeated the Oilers 4-2 and followed that up with another 4-2 series win, this time over the Stars to make the Stanley Cup final against the high flying Panthers. The Panthers only gave up one game to the Maple Leafs and then it was a clean sweep against the Hurricanes on their way to the final but it was the VGK who won their first Stanley Cup with a 4-1 win in the final.

Looking ahead to the 2023-24 NHL Season

Here are some useful links to sections on OLBG which will come in handy for the new season:

For the first time in the history of the NHL, there will be pre-season games played in Australia, best known for hosting the Australian Open, the Rod Laver Arena host games between the Coyotes and Kings on the 23rd and 24th of September with an outdoor rink be built, the game will be played with the roof closed.

The 2024 Winter Classic will be played at T-Mobile Park in 2024 with the Kraken hosting the reigning champions, the Vegas Golden Knights.

With the great news that the 2023-24 season will be going ahead as normal, the tipsters on OLBG will be delighted, especially the best NHL tipsters, these are tipsters who over the past twelve months have all made a profit with their ice hockey predictions!

If you are interested in other ice hockey tournaments then we have the following covered with blog previews too:

Who Will Win The Stanley Cup 2024?

The bookie's pre-season favourites to win the 2023 Stanley Cup are the much improved Colorado Avalanche who maintained their 100% record when making the Stanley Cup final in 2022 when lifting the Stanley Cup for the third time having also won it in both 1996 & 2001. Going into the new season, the bookies have already priced them up as favourites to lift another Stanley Cup whilst the reigning champions, the Vegas Golden Knights are priced up within the top five teams with the bookies unsure if they can back up their win in 2023.

The bookies have priced up the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers to be the biggest threats to the Avs, the Leafs are looking to get off the unlucky number 13 for the number of times they have won the Stanley Cup, a number they have been stuck on since 1967! The Oilers are well overdue a win too, their last win came in 1990 which was their fifth Stanley Cup success.

To see which team the OLBG ice hockey tipsters are predicting to win the 2024 Stanley Cup, head over to the NHL Picks page, not only is the NHL covered on there but other great tournaments like the KHL and SHL too.

What is the Line-up for the 2023-24 Season?

As things stand, for the 2023-24 season there will be no changes to which teams are playing in which divisions.

Atlantic Division (Eastern Conference)

  • Boston Bruins
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Florida Panthers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Toronto Maple Leafs

Central Division (Western Conference)

  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Dallas Stars
  • Minnesota Wild
  • Nashville Predators
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division (Western Conference)

  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Seattle Kraken
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Vegas Golden Knights

Metropolitan Division (Eastern Conference)

  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Islanders
  • New York Rangers
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Washington Capitals

Coaching Changes for 2023-24

Heading into the 2023-24 season, there are already six changes in coaches from the start of the previous season.

  • Ducks: Greg Cronin replaces Dallas Eakins
  • Flames: Ryan Huska replaces Darryl Sutter
  • Blue Jackets: Brad Larsen to be replaced
  • Predators: Andrew Brunette replaces John Hynes
  • Rangers: Peter Laviolette replaces Gerard Gallant
  • Capitals: Spencer Carbery replaces Peter Laviolette

Who has won the Most Stanley Cups?

  • 24 - Montreal Canadiens
  • 13 - Toronto Maple Leafs
  • 11 - Detroit Red Wings

By far the most successful team in winning the Stanley Cup is the Montreal Canadiens, they have won it a total of twenty-four times and have a .706 win percentage when making the finals having also lost ten times, a lot of their wins came some time ago, they made ten consecutive finals between 1951 & 1960 winning six of those including five consecutive. They made a total of six finals in the 1960s with a very good return of five Stanley Cup wins, they won all six finals they appeared in during the 1970s and they won their last Stanley Cup in 1993, their only final appearance since was in 2021, so whilst they have a good record, their recent record is not so good.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the same boat as the Canadiens with all of their wins coming early on, in fact, their last success, which was the thirteenth time they had lifted the Stanley Cup was back in 1967, between 1942 and 1967 they made it to twelve finals and had an excellent record by winning ten of those, they have appeared in a total of twenty-one finals and have notched up a total of thirteen wins, which makes their win percentage in the final .619.

There is only one other franchise that has lifted the Stanley Cup more than ten times and is the leading American franchise behind the two Canadians, that is the Detroit Red Wings who have lost more than they have won in the Stanley Cup finals with eleven victories and thirteen defeats. Their first appearance was back in 1934 when losing to the Chicago Blackhawks, however, they returned in 1936 & 1937 to win back-to-back cups but the 1940s was not a good one for them, despite making it to six finals they only lifted the cup once (1943) but the 1950s brought better luck with wins in 1950, 1952, 1954 & 1955. They have made five finals since 1997 in which they have won four but when last seen (2009) they tasted defeat.

Most Stanley Cup Appearances?

There are six teams who have made it to the Stanley Cup finals more than ten times, the Canadiens lead the way with thirty-five appearances with their last coming in 2021, and the Red Wings are next best with twenty-four appearances with their last coming in 2009.

The other two to make it twenty or more times are the Maple Leafs with twenty-one finals but they have not made any final since 1967 and then the Bruins who have appeared in twenty finals, their most recent being in 2019.

Two more have hit double figures, the Blackhawks with thirteen and the Rangers with eleven, the Blackhawks last appeared in 2015 whilst, for the Rangers, it was in 2014.

  • 35 - Montreal Canadiens
  • 24 - Detroit Red Wings
  • 21 - Toronto Maple Leafs
  • 20 - Boston Bruins
  • 13 - Chicago Blackhawks
  • 11 - New York Rangers

Who Has Never Won The Stanley Cup?

Of the current thirty-two franchises in the NHL, a total of twenty-seven of those have at least made a Stanley Cup final, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jetsm Arizona Coyotes and the Seattle Kraken are the five teams who have never made it to a Stanley Cup final.

Along with those five teams, there are an additional six who have never won a Stanley Cup despite making it to the finals, those are the Vancouver Canucks (0-3), Buffalo Sabres (0-2), Florida Panthers (0-1), Nashville Predators (0-1), Ottawa Senators (0-1) and the San Jose Sharks (0-1).

NHL Conference Finals Statistics

When it comes to conference finals, these can be very demanding and lengthy as you have the two best teams from each conference battling it out for a place in the Stanley Cup finals, so, the question is just how much does this take out of the teams?

Since 1994, from the 54 conference series (27x Eastern & 27x Western), a total of 16 of those have gone to the maximum need of seven games to settle the series, 11 of those have been on the Eastern side of things, and only 5 on the Western side.

The main question is, for those playing 7 games, just how much of an effect does that have on the team, are they the more tired going into the Stanley Cup finals?

NHL Eastern Conference Finals Statistics

Of the 11 Eastern teams who needed 7 games to win their conference final, an amazing 8 of those went on to win the Stanley Cup!

9 of those faced a team who needed less than 7 games to win their Western title, and only 1 of those failed to win the Stanley Cup which was the Panthers in 1996 when losing to the Red Wings.

Are the OLBG Best NHL Tipsters following suit? See their picks, these are tipsters who have shown a profit over the past year for their ice hockey predictions.

  • 1994 - NY Rangers (7 games) beat VAN Canucks (5 games)
  • 2003 - NJ Devils (7 games) beat ANA Ducks (4 games)
  • 2004 - TB Lightning (7 games) beat CAL Flames (6 games)
  • 2006 - CAR Hurricanes (7 games) beat EDM Oilers (5 games)
  • 2011 - BOS Bruins (7 games) beat VAN Canucks (5 games)
  • 2016 - PIT Penguins (7 games) beat SJ Sharks (6 games)
  • 2017 - PIT Penguins (7 games) beat NAS Predators (6 games)
  • 2018 - WAS Capitals (7 games) beat VGS Golden Knights (5 games)

Eastern Conference Final Whitewashers

There have been mixed results for teams who have whitewashed their Conference final, the last to do so was the Panthers in 2023 who went on to lose 4-1 to the VGK in the Stanley Cup final.

Prior to that, it was the Bruins in 2019 who went on to lose 4-3 to the Blues in the Stanley Cup final and again the Bruins in 2013 and again they went on to be defeated in the Stanley Cup final (4-2 Blackhawks) but four years earlier the Pens did lift the Stanley Cup in 2009 after defeating the Red Wings 4-3.

If you go back further to 1982 when it was the Prince of Wales Conference, in total, we have seen just six Eastern teams whitewash their conference final 4-0 with three of those going on to win the Stanley Cup so mixed results.

NHL Western Conference Finals Statistics

The Western teams are no different, although there seem to be more clear-cut outcomes as there have been fewer seven-game conference series.

Since 1994, only three teams have needed seven games and gone on to play an Eastern team who won in under seven games, all three of those have gone on to win the Stanley Cup.

  • 1999 - DAL Stars (7 games) beat BUF Sabres (5 games)
  • 2002 - DET Red Wings (7 games) beat CAR Hurricanes (6 games)
  • 2014 - LA Kings (7 games) beat NY Rangers (6 games)

Western Conference Final Whitewashers

Since 1994 and the creation of the Western Conference as we know it, only three teams have made it to the Stanley Cup final by whitewashing their Conference final, Anaheim in 2003 who went on to lose 4-3 to the Devils.

The Blackhawks had better success in 2010 when after beating the Sharks to win the Conference title they went on to beat the Flyers 4-2 in the Stanley Cup final.

The most recent was the Colorado Avalanche, a team well thought of throughout the season that only needed twenty games in the playoffs which included a whitewash of Oilers in the conference final before defeating the Lightning in the final.

Looking further back between 1982 & 1993 (Clarence Campbell Conference), three teams made it through to the Stanley Cup via a whitewash and only one of those went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup Finals Strategy

That means in total, since 1994, twelve teams have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals having needed seven games in their conference series and playing against a team who won their conference in fewer than seven-game, of those twelve teams, eleven went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Below are the number of games needed in the conference series to get to the Stanley Cup finals, in brackets is the number of times those have gone on to win the Stanley Cup, you can see that a seven-game winner has won half (13-26) of the Stanley Cups!

Those going into the Stanley Cup finals on the back of a five-game series have a poor record, with only 3 cup wins from a total of 16 teams which is a very poor record.

Games NeededEasternWesternTotal
4 Games4 (1)3 (2)7 (3)
5 Games6 (0)10 (3)16 (3)
6 Games7 (2)10 (7)17 (9)
7 Games11 (9)5 (4)16 (13)

It would appear that fitness is not a concern for those playing more games, it could be more of a mental advantage, coming through a seven-game series means you are winning that game seven which would be a massive confidence boost for the team and they seem to take that confidence in the Stanley Cup finals given their incredible record of 11 wins from 12!

The other factor is having a recently played, those who whitewash their conference final will be sitting around waiting for the other series to be completed, which could also explain why only 6 of the 12 teams making the finals with a whitewash have gone on to win the Stanley Cup.

So siding with those who have won a seven-game conference series to win the Stanley Cup is certainly based on previous seasons a good NHL Stanley Cup strategy to be on the right side of.

If this is a strategy you are looking to follow then head over to our Recommended Hockey Bookies article for advice on which bookie to use when playing your NHL bets.

NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Who Is Better? Eastern Conference Vs Western Conference

Since 1994, the Eastern Conference teams are just edging out the Western Conference with thirteen wins vs nine wins over the twenty-two* finals.

The 2021 finals did not count as they were different but prior to that, the Eastern Conference had produced four of the last five winners.

Domination seems to switch from one conference to the other over time, from 1996 to 2002 the Western teams won six of the seven finals, and then the Eastern teams won three on the bounce (2003-05).

The tide turned again between 2007 & 2015 with the Western teams winning seven of the nine finals including four on the bounce between 2012 & 2015 and then the Eastern dominance as already mentioned returned.

SeasonsDominant Conference
1994-95Both were won by Eastern teams
1996-026 of 7 won by Western teams
2003-06All 3 were won by Eastern teams
2007-157 of 9 won by Western teams
2016-204 of 5 won by Eastern teams
2022-23Won by a Western team

*The 2005 season was not included as the season was cancelled and the 2022 season was not included in the conference statistics as no conference playoffs.

Author Information

Andy Powell manages this NHL Stanley Cup Preview & Betting Guide and other hockey content in this section of the site as well as the Ice Hockey Tipsters in the OLBG tipster competition in his role in the OLBG Expert Team. Andy meticulously updates the date and results for these pieces and is an erstwhile Penguins fan in the NHL. He provides Ice Hockey betting advice in our bookmaker reviews as well as providing a huge contribution to the Best Ice Hockey Betting Sites Guide.

Andy Powell

Andy Powell

Content editor

Andy also possesses a keen interest in American sports with a particular affinity for the NFL and the NHL. He follows the Pittsburgh Penguins, emphasizing his broad palette for diversified sporting events.

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