(1) Tampa Bay Lightning vs (WC) New Jersey Devils
In the last game of the regular season the Panthers did the Lightning a solid by knocking off the Bruins to give Tampa the #1 seed, kind of. The Devils are the team no-one would want to play in the East, their speed can cause serious problems, add to that the Devils swept the season series against the Lightning. Stamkos is carrying an injury but should be playing, this series should be high scoring and close throughout. I think Tampa Bay get through, but the Devils should take this to at least 6 games.
Prediction – Lightning 4-3
(2) Boston Bruins vs (3) Toronto Maple Leafs
This is probably the only series I won’t having a bet on in any capacity. The Leafs won the season series 3-1, but the Bruins have looked scary in the last few months and they’re one of my 3-4 teams I think can win the cup. I don’t really have an angle on this one other than the Bruins have much more playoff experience and probably the better goalie, can see this one going to 7 though.
Prediction – Bruins 4-3
(1) Washington Capitals vs (WC) Columbus Blue Jackets
A lot of people fancy the Jackets to knock off the Caps, and to be fair Washington have a history of choking in the playoffs. Holtby has been struggling for the last few months and the Jackets are tough to beat at home, but they’re nowhere near as good as they were last year before they got squashed by the Penguins. The Jackets will take a game or two, but the Caps will go through.
Prediction – Capitals in 6
(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (3) Philadelphia Flyers
This is one of my favourites rivalry matches, always goals and always fights. Typically the post-season sees teams reel it in a little when it comes to fighting, but to be honest it’s the only way Philly can win this series. The Flyers typically struggle most seasons and always give the Penguins a hard time, this year it’s the complete opposite. They’ve been significantly better than last season but lost all 4 meetings with the Pens. Honestly I don’t understand how the Penguins are 16/1 to win the cup, they’ve won the last two and this is the healthiest they’ve been since before the first one. Also the Pens to knock out the Caps in the second round of the playoffs is becoming an annual occurrence, probably happening again.
Prediction – Pens in 5
(1) Nashville Predators vs (WC) Colorado Avalanche
When I first saw this matchup I thought there would be some value in backing the Avs but after looking at their record against the Preds in the regular season I’ll be passing. The Preds arguably look better going into the playoffs this year than they did last year which is bad for betting as their odds are terrible (1/6 to win the series). Another series I won’t be touching but honestly I think the Preds sweep this one.
Prediction – Predators 4-0
(2) Winnipeg Jets vs (3) Minnesota Wild
The Jets were a nothing team last year but they’ve put everyone on notice this season. Winnipeg will feel great going into this series having beaten the Wild 3 times this season and the fact that they ended the season on fire at home beating the Kings, Ducks and Preds consecutively. Minnesota are always in games so they should be able to make a series of it but unless something drastic happens I think the Jets will be too good for them. Should be plenty of goals in this series as well.
Prediction – Jets 4-2
(1) Las Vegas Golden Knights vs (WC) Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are my value pick to win this series and probably the western conference. The Knights have been undervalued by the bookies all season as most expansion teams get hammered for their first season or two, but now that everyone has caught up the value is backing against them. The Kings beat the Knights on back to back knights late in the season which will be a huge confidence boost going into this. Every time the playoffs come around there’s always one goalie that plays out of their mind and carries them, I think Jonathan Quick is that goalie this year, and watching him battle Fleury for 6/7 games will be fun.
Prediction – Kings 4-2
(2) Anaheim Ducks vs (3) San Jose Sharks
There’s also a load of value here on the Sharks. They struggled early in the season but they got some pretty big wins towards the end of the season. The Sharks won both games they played in Anaheim and took the season series 3-1, I think the results will be pretty similar in the series. The Ducks ended the season on a solid win streak, but I’m sure they’d feel a lot better about their chances if Gibson was healthy. I’ll be backing the road team more often than not in this one, I think the Sharks get the job done.
Prediction – Sharks 4-3