A month after major professional sports returned for four Pennsylvania teams, only the Philadelphia Flyers appear worth a bet for all but the most diehard of fans.
The Flyers open a Stanley Cup semi-final playoff series Monday night as favorites over the New York Islanders, both for the game and best-of-seven series.
The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, were unceremoniously swept by the Boston Celtics in an NBA opening playoff series, eliminating hopes of those who had bet on them at 20/1 or longer odds a month ago to win the title.
The Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates won’t get swept in the shortened, 60-game MLB season, but beyond that, there’s not much positive to say. They’re each in last place in their respective division, with their prospects for post-season play worsening by the week.
So it’s hardly been an August to treasure for Pennsylvania sports followers, but the Flyers offer more hope than they have in years.
Flyers look a lot better than in the fall
When the 2019-20 season started, way back when no one had heard of COVID concerns, the Flyers were generally listed 40/1 to win the Stanley Cup. When entering “bubble” play in Toronto July 30, they were 10/1.
Congratulations to those getting them at either of those prices, especially the former. Philadelphia has now advanced further than any season since 2012, and is favored to go further still.
Monday morning, the Flyers’ odds of hoisting the cup in several weeks were posted at +700 by FanDuel’s online site in Pennsylvania and +675 by the five sites that use Kambi odds: DraftKings, Unibet, Parx, BetRivers, and PlaySugarhouse.
Only the Vegas Golden Knights, Boston Bruins, and Colorado Avalanche were listed as higher favorites among the eight remaining teams.
To win the Eastern Conference, the Flyers were priced +250 by FanDuel and +275 by the Kambi sites, behind only the Bruins (+130 from FanDuel and +145 from Kambi).
Underdog Islanders, meanwhile, also look strong
To win either the cup or conference, the Flyers first have to get by the Islanders, who actually had an easier time defeating the Washington Capitals in the first round than did the Flyers with the Montreal Canadiens.
The Flyers relied on stout defense, especially from 22-year-old goalie Carter Hart, to best the Canadiens 4-2 in the series. They may need a more productive offense, however, to beat the Islanders, who dispatched the favored Caps 4-1 in their series.
The Flyers are favored in the series at all nine online betting sites in Pennsylvania, but there’s variability. The best price Monday morning was the -125 offered by FOX Bet, Caesars, and BetAmerica. The Kambi sites listed Philly -129, and FanDuel made the Flyers a -134 favorite.
For Monday’s opener in Toronto at 7 p.m., the Flyers were favored anywhere from -125 to -115, with both DraftKings and BetAmerica offering that latter price as the best one for Flyers backers.
Bonuses and promos are available
The sites have a few promotions that might tempt those who normally shrug at the prospect of NHL betting.
FOX Bet is looking to boost action on Monday night’s opening game in the series with an advertised “super boost”: You can bet the Flyers on a special +200 moneyline for the game instead of FOX Bet’s regularly set price of -118. The catch is that the maximum wager is $10, but it’s a mighty favorable betting line for those who don’t mind the low stakes.
FanDuel, for its part, is offering “NHL First Period Insurance” for hockey action: Place a pregame moneyline wager, and if your team is leading after the first period but loses the game, you get a refund in site credit.
Can the Phils surge in September?
No one expected much from the Pirates before the abbreviated season, and they have lived down to those expectations, holding the worst winning percentage in all of baseball even after sweeping the Brewers over the weekend.
The Phillies had different hopes, however, only to encounter ongoing bullpen meltdowns — shades of 2019 — that have left them with a 10-14 record, trailing their four NL East rivals.
The Phils’ chances of winning the National League are placed at 14/1 by most sites, but a better betting price of 18/1 can be had from Caesars.
It’s the same for Philadelphia’s World Series dreams, where Caesars has the best betting odds of 40/1 while others range from 38/1 (FanDuel) to 28/1 (DraftKings).
Normally, we’d list the Pirates’ odds here as well. You would only laugh, however, so this is not the right year or the right time to do that.
Photo provided by Dan Hamilton/USA Today