NHL Picks for Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 1 Betting Guide

Kevin Stott

Monday, April 13, 2015 7:38 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 13, 2015 7:38 PM UTC

The puck drops on the NHL Playoffs on Wednesday night, so before Round 1 gets underway, let’s examine why this sport is one of the best for betting odds underdogs and why seedings matter little.

NHL Best Betting Sport For Round 1 Upsets
For the first time in NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs history, neither the defending Stanley Cup champion (the Los Angeles Kings) nor the reigning President’s Trophy Winner (the Boston Bruins)—the team ending with the league’s best Regular Season record—will be participating in the postseason, although took going all the way down to the last period of the last game of the season for the dust to finally settle, and for Sidney Crosby and the Penguins to slide on in and the B’s to be eliminated. Last season, for the first time since 1973, just one of the 16 NHL teams participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was from the country that loves the sport so much, Canada. And, appropriately enough, that team was the Montreal Canadiens. But this year, there are a robust five Canadian teams—the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference (Eastern Conference +100 to win Stanley Cup, BetVictor) and the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference (Western Conference -120 to win Stanley Cup, BetVictor). The big, maple syrup-flavoured problem? The Luck of the draw has four of those Canadian teams playing each other in Round 1. So, we all now know two things for certain: 1) That maybe only two and a maximum of three Canadian teams will be advancing on to Round 2 with the other six Round 1 series winners; and, 2) That God must not be Canadian.

In terms of finding and trying to find perceived “Value” in the Playoffs with NHL picks, this Round 1 (Best of 7; 2-2-1-1-1) is always chock full of opportunities to bet on underdogs and lower seeds, and the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs may actually be one of the best professional sports in which to take some chances on underdogs and make Futures Bets on teams that can potentially make deep runs into the postseason, often behind red-hot goalies. Last year in Round 1, half of the eight Round 1 series saw the lower seed (and team with the worse overall Regular Season record) win and advance on to Round 2. And just three years ago back in 2012, we all witnessed the defending but now-not-able-to-defend-their-championship Los Angeles Kings do just that, riding the coat-tails and big-ass goalie stick of Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick (1.41 GAA) all the way to capturing its first-ever Stanley Cup. And the Kings did so by qualifying in the 81st game of the Regular Season, and coming out of the Western Conference as the 8th and final seed. And who did Los Angeles—who ousted the conferences #1, #2 and #3 seeds along the way, becoming only the second team in NHL history to do so—beat 4-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012? The Eastern Conference’s 6th seed, the New Jersey Devils. So, as you can see, almost anyone can get to the Stanley Cup finals with a hot enough goalie, a healthy amount of Intestinal Fortitude and enough talented hockey players. (They fight but they’re Good Boys.) And the series prices released this morning here in Las Vegas reveals that reality, with only one of the eight series favorites (New York Rangers, -220) being priced higher than -200 in NHL odds.

NHL Picks for 1st Round of Stanley Cup Playoffs: Trio of Predictions for Thursday's Winners

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Series Prices—Eastern Conference
Series A (A1 vs. W1): Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators
Series Price: Canadiens -155, Senators +135 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Series B (A2 vs. A3): Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings
Series Price: Lightning -175, Red Wings +155 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Series C (M1 vs. W2): New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Series Price: NY Rangers -220, Penguins +190 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Series D (M2 vs. W1): New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals
Series Price: Capitals -145, Islanders +155 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)


NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Series Prices—Western Conference
Series E (A1 vs. W1): St. Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild
Series Price: Blues -140, Wild +120 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Series F (C2 vs. C3): Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Series Price: Blackhawks -145, Predators +125 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Series G (M1 vs. W2): Anaheim Ducks vs. Winnipeg Jets
Series Price: Ducks -175, Jets +155 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Series H (P2 vs. P3): Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames
Series Price: Canucks -155, Flames +135 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)


Best Stanley Cup Futures Book Odds (Source: Oddschecker, April 12)
New York Rangers +700, Coral

St. Louis Blues +900, BetVictor

Anaheim Ducks +900, 888Sport

Chicago Blackhawks +1000, Bwin

Montreal Canadiens +1000, Unibet

Tampa Bay Lightning +1100, TitanBet

Nashville Predators +1400, Betfred

Minnesota Wild +1600, ToteSport

Vancouver Canucks +1800, Sky Bet

Pittsburgh Penguins +1800, William Hill

New York Islanders +1800, BetVictor

Washington Capitals +2000, Betfred

Detroit Red Wings +2000, bet365

Calgary Flames +2500, ToteSport

Winnipeg Jets +2800, Coral

Ottawa Senators +4000, Betfred


Game 1 Thumbnail Sketch and Pick
Western Conference—Series G: Anaheim Ducks vs. Winnipeg Jets, Thursday (CNBC, RSN, TVA, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT): Oddsmakers have the host Ducks solid -152 favorites (Pinnacle) over the visiting Winnipeg Jets (+137) on Thursday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim for Game #1 of this Western Conference series. The Total (Goals) is set at 5 Over -125 (Under +105, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) with the Puck Line seeing the Ducks -1½ priced at +200 and the Jets +1½ at -230 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook).

After just wrapping up one of their best Regular Seasons in recent memory, the Pacific Division-winning Anaheim Ducks (51-24-7, 236 GF-226 GA) certainly won’t want to lose home-ice advantage just like that to the Winnipeg Jets (43-26-13, 230 GF-210 GA) here in Game 1 at Home, where the team went 26-12-3 this season. Since 1996, the Ducks—who used to be nicknamed the Mighty Ducks after a Walt Disney movie—have gone 12-8 against Winnipeg (+0.4 units), but over the L6 meetings and the last three seasons, Anaheim is 5-1 (+3.2 units) against the Jets (4-1 L5, 6-3-1 L10), and the Ducks (6-4 L10) have beaten Winnipeg the L4 meetings (5-4, 4-1, 4-3, 5-4) in obviously high-scoring skates with Anaheim outscoring the Jets, 18-12 over those 4 aforementioned games (average 7.5 gpg). With so much at stake, expect Anaheim and captain Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks faithful—who are expecting really big things this postseason if you know what I mean—to be ready for Winnipeg here from the second the puck drops. It’s hard to tell if this one will continue that Overish trend we saw in the L4 meetings, as the Jets L3 Road games have been really low-scoring, tight meetings (W 2-0 at Wild, W 1-0 at Blues, L 0-1 at Avalanche), but expect the host Ducks—who were priced at -210 when these two met here back in January—to find a way to get the Game 1 win here in the Honda Center on Thursday night against their upstart Canadian opponents.

NHL ROUND 1 SERIES UNDERDOG PICK: Islanders +155 over Capitals (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

NHL ROUND 1 GAME 1 PICK: Ducks -152 over Jets (Pinnacle)

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