The Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to get off the mark on Wednesday, April 15, with two games from each Conference Series on the day's card. Join us as we preview each and every game trading on the NHL odds board and serve up our NHL picks.
Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
As the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs fast approaches, we've got you covered with both money line and puck line picks for each and every game. The NHL odds are courtesy of bet365, but feel free to shop around amongst the top-rated Sportsbooks in the online sports betting business for your choice NHL odds before the puck drops.
Islanders +1.5 (-235), +125 vs. Capitals -1.5 (+195), -145
Analysis: The Islanders and Capitals get the NHL playoffs underway with one of the day's early starts. The Capitals emerge as the justifiable favorites to win game 1 at -145 NHL odds; home ice advantage underscores their favourable nod. However, the Islanders are in with a shot at +125 NHL odds after forcing a 2-0-2 mark in their regular season series. Three of the four clashes were close and went the distance, into overtime and once into a shootout. If these trends hold true in the postseason, this could be the wildest series of the NHL playoffs. Sit tight.
As far as recommending NHL picks, we're leaning towards the Capitals. In their regular season series the home team won as a favorite each and every time, as well the favorite has emerged winner in seven of the last ten meetings. For our puck line picks recommendation, we're going with the Islanders. Everything about this matchup suggests a close, tight contest.
NHL Picks - Money Line: Capitals -145
NHL Picks - Puck Line: Islanders +1.5 (-235)
Senators +1.5 (-245), +125 vs. Canadiens -1.5 (+205), -145
Analysis: Although the Senators finished fourth in the Atlantic Division, they are widely considered to be the most dangerous underdogs in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Many experts and pundits alike have gone so far as to predict the upset in this series by the seventh seed. The Senators are 6-2-2 in their last ten games closing out the regular season and they've suffered just three regulation defeats during the two month lead up to the playoffs. If that's not formidable form, what is? At the very least, this rich vein of form makes them a meaningful NHL pick at +125 to win game 1 of this all-Canadian series. They have nothing to lose here and everything to play for. They did well against the Habs in the regular season so they must have confidence going into game 1 and a belief that they can go toe-to-toe with their Canadian counterparts.
Montreal Canadiens have home advantage and a whole slew of solid players, including Carey Price, PK Suban and more. Combining all these factors makes them the correct home favorites on the NHL odds board. What's more they closed out the season strong, behind a three-game winning streak to improve to 5-2-3 in their last ten games. The cloud attached to this silver lining, however, is the fact they trail 1-3-0 to the Senators in the regular season series. A losing trend that could emerge in the playoffs, particularly when all the pressure is going to be on the Habs to prove their worth as the favorites and higher seed.
NHL Picks - Money Line: Senators +125
NHL Picks - Puck Line: Senators +1.5 (-245)
Blackhawks +1.5 (-315), -105 vs. Predators -1.5 (+255), -115
Analysis: Although the Blackhawks are trading amongst the top favourites to win the Western Conference, considerably shorter than the Predators (Blackhawks are matched at +450 while the Predators are matched at +650) and they are amongst the top favourites to reach the Stanley Cup Final, they open round 1 of their series with the Predators on the road in Nashville. Hence, they emerge as the slight underdogs to the Predators. Well, "slight" being the operative word. The disadvantage is so nominal to make it a moot point.
These are divisional rivals that know each other very well, if not have a hate on. And the way the NHL betting lines are cast in every market, you can't tell the Predators are the higher seeded team. It remains to be seen whether the Predators play up to their seeding. If the end of the regular season were any indication, the prognosis isn't entirely favourable as they finished behind three straight defeats to record a 4-4-2 mark in their last ten.
Regular season isn't always a clear indication of what to expect in the playoffs, but the balance in NHL betting markets already tips the scale towards the Blackhawks, particularly in game 1. With two Stanley Cups in the last six seasons and an exhilarating offense, it's easy to understand why the Blackhawks emerge as the popular NHL pick to win the first game of this series at -105 NHL odds.
NHL Picks - Money Line: Blackhawks -105
NHL Picks - Puck Line: Blackhawks +1.5 (-315)
Flames +1.5 (-240), +125 vs. Canucks -1.5 (+200), -145
Analysis: The Flames and Canucks collide on Wednesday night, reprising a regular season rivalry that ended 2-2-0 in the NHL playoffs. Vancouver open the series on home ice, which earns them the favourable nod at -145 to win outright. But the Flames won the last two games between this pair, including a win at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, so they'll fancy their chances at +125 to win outright in game 1.
Vancouver finished the regular season with three straight wins, but they're faced with goaltending headaches going into the playoffs. Do they go with Eddie Lack or Ryan Miller? It's still yet uncertain which net minder is to get the call, so pay close attention to that before settling on a firm NHL pick either way. Consensus betting is going against the bookies, with the public shading the Flames on their money line picks to win game 1. In fact, many experts are predicting the upset by the Flames in the overall series as well. For our money, we're fading the public and recommending the Canucks to win the opening game at -145 NHL odds. The Canucks are 14-6 in their last 20 meetings with the Flames. What's more, the favourite has covered in three of the four games in this series during the regular season, so take the Canucks on the puck line odds as well.
NHL Picks - Money Line: Canucks -145
NHL Picks - Puck Line: Canucks -1.5 (+200)