NHL Picks: Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

PJ Laferla

Monday, April 29, 2013 2:00 PM GMT

It took a little longer than normal, but the first round playoff matchups in the Eastern Conference have finally been set.

Let’s take a look at each first round series matchup and determine where we can find value on the NHL odds.

Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. New York Islanders (8)

The Penguins won four of the five regular season meetings against the Islanders this year and enter the playoffs with a Stanley Cup or bust mentality.

Pittsburgh boasted the best offense in the league during the regular season, averaging 3.4 goals per game. Defensively they were among the ten best in the NHL, holding opponents to 2.5 goals per matchup.

New York was pretty good on offense as well, ranking 8th in the league, scoring just under 3 goals per game (2.9). However, on defense they were among the worst in the NHL, surrendering nearly 3 goals per contest.

I expect the Penguins to make quick work of the Islanders, as they should sweep them right out of the playoffs.

Prediction: Penguins in 4 (Series Sweep)

[gameodds]7/228266/43-349/us[/gameodds]

Montreal Canadiens (2) vs. Ottawa Senators (7)

Montreal edged out the Senators in the regular season, going 2-1-1 in the four games played against them. However, while on paper this is a 2 seed vs. a 7 seed postseason matchup, this could turn out to a highly competitive series that could possibly stretch to seven games.

This series will come down to the Canadiens offense, which was ranked 3rd best in the NHL this season and the Senators stingy defense, which was 2nd best in the league, holding opponents to an average of just 2.2 goals per game.

I am going to go with the upset in this series and back the Senators to beat the Canadiens in a long hard-fought series.

Prediction: Ottawa upsets Montreal in 7 games

[gameodds]7/228268/43-349/us[/gameodds]

Washington Capitals (3) vs. New York Rangers (6)

The Rangers won the regular season series over the Capitals 2-0-1; and I believe they will win the best of seven first round matchup to advance, while putting an abrupt ending to Washington’s season.

New York got off to a slow start this year, but finished by winning seven of their final ten games. Washington was also solid to finish the regular season, going 8-1-1 down the stretch.

This will not be your typical 3 vs. 6 seed matchup and if the Rangers win one of the first two games in Washington, they will win the series in six games.

Prediction: Rangers in 6 for this series' NHL picks.

[gameodds]7/228269/43-349/us[/gameodds]

Boston Bruins (4) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (5)

These two adversaries were separated by just five points in the standings, but the Bruins won three of the four regular season games against the Maple Leafs – albeit two of the victories were by a one goal margin.

The Maple Leafs are back in the postseason for the first time since the 2004 NHL campaign and will look to make the most of it against he Bruins.

That said, the Bruins should be able to handle the Maple Leafs and inch closer to an opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup this year.

Prediction: Bruins in 5 at Bet365.

[gameodds]7/228265/43-349/us[/gameodds]