Go ahead and watch the NBA picks of the snooze-fest first round playoffs if you need to catch up on sleep. The real action will always be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where upsets are commonplace.
While we cannot guarantee it, based on the past, you will be shaking your head Saturday morning after three days of making NHL picks and saying to yourself, "What the heck is going on?" (R-rated version for hockey bettors available on I-Tunes). We have eight matchups to get to and here is a look at each series with a predicted outcome.
#1Washington Capitals vs. #4 Philadelphia Flyers
The Capitals have been the best team in hockey all year and crushed the NHL odds boards at +19.4 units, now they have to go out and prove it in the playoffs.
All the pressure is on Washington and Philadelphia split four games with the Caps this season and will not fear them. Washington will be tested and the Flyers with nothing to lose will push them to six games (at least four very close) before succumbing to overall talent.
Free Pick: Washington in 6
#2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #3 N.Y. Rangers
Replacement coach Mike Sullivan allowed Pittsburgh to be who they are (3rd in scoring), but changed defensive strategies and they finished 6th in goals allowed and won 14 of last 16.
The New York Rangers like a few teams are dealing with injury issues and against a hot team not playing your best, this becomes a problem unless the defense magically comes together.
Free Pick: Pittsburgh in 6
#1 Florida Panthers vs. #4 N.Y. Islanders
This will be hotly-contested series and if the Islanders did not have so many injuries, they would be my pick. It helps New York not to play until Thursday, but then they have back-to-back games in Florida and three in four days, when their depth will be severely challenged. This will come down to the Panthers Jaromir Jagr and the Isles John Tavares and I'll back Jagr and his team.
Free Pick: Florida in 7
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. #3 Detroit Red Wings
A month ago this was no contest, with Tampa Bay winning in five. But with no Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and at least three defensemen questionable for any point of this series, this is now an even series based on key players.
Whoever will be in goal will have to match Ben Bishop for Tampa Bay, but this will be among the first round upsets which is not as big as most will think.
Free Pick: Detroit in 6
Must Read: Betting Tips Ahead Of Playoffs
#1 Dallas Stars vs. #4 Minnesota Wild
Not going to walk away from my stance Dallas will not win the Stanley Cup from a month ago, but even I'm impressed with how veteran coach Lindy Ruff has the Stars playing better defense and covering up areas.
Dallas still have the best offense NHL and Minnesota enters playoffs with 0-5 SU record and they lost four of five to the Stars. Quickest series of first round.
Free Pick: Dallas in 5
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #3 Chicago Blackhawks
This has all the making of seven-game war and not sure what either would have left for Dallas. Chicago as the defending champions has less depth and more injuries entering the fray and is scrambling defensively.
St. Louis might actually be the better team and should win, but given the recent playoff history of both teams, do you really bet against the Blackhawks?
Free Pick: Chicago in 7
#1 Anaheim Ducks vs. #4 Nashville Predators
With Anaheim stumbling the first part of season, their perseverance has paid off and they won the Pacific Division on final day of the regular season.
Some will make the case for Nashville, yet do you really go against the league's best defense and club that was first in both special categories? We did not think so either and as always have questions about the Preds Pekka Rinne in net this time of year.
Free Pick: Anaheim in 6
#2 Los Angeles Kings vs. #3 San Jose Sharks
Not going to disagree Los Angeles has big edge in goaltending and is far more clutch in the playoffs than San Jose, but the Kings blew chance to win division and have been loose on defense for a couple weeks.
The Sharks took season series (3-2), knows how to win on the road (28-13 SU) and is still stinging from blowing 3-0 lead to L.A. in playoffs two years ago.
Free Pick: San Jose in 7