The Weekly Betting Edge: First Round NHL Playoff Upsets

David Schwab

Monday, April 9, 2018 6:02 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 9, 2018 6:02 PM UTC

The pairings for the opening round of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs in the NHL have been set. Wednesday marks the start of play in what should be a very interesting best-of-seven series in a few of the eight matchups. Betting on the games is made easy with a full set of betting odds at 5Dimes.

Playoff hockey offers its own unique style of play that can often lead to some stunning upsets in a best-of-seven series format. Smart bettors can take advantage of this trend if they know where and how to look. The following is my "best bet" pick for an opening round series upset in each conference.

Eastern Conference First Round Upset Pick

The Boston Bruins finished just one point behind Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division with a total of 112 points to draw a very tough matchup in the opening round against the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs. This is a series where both teams know each other well, so it all comes down to playing your best hockey over the course of a possible seven games.

The Bruins stumble into this series with just one victory in their last five after losing to Florida 4-2 on Sunday as prohibitive -312 home favorites. A win in that game would have given Boston a much easier path to the conference semifinals against New Jersey to raise the first red flag with this team. The other concern with Boston is a lack of scoring down the stretch with an average of 2.4 goals in its last five games as opposed to a season scoring average of 3.3 goals a game.

Toronto has been one of the more consistent teams in the East over the past month, and with Saturday’s season-ending 4-2 victory against Montreal as a -230 home favorite, it has won six of its last nine games. The Maple Leafs ended the season ranked third in the NHL in scoring with an average of 3.3 goals a game, and they have scored four or more goals in four of their last six games.

Head-to-head in the season series, Toronto holds a 3-1 edge over Boston as part of its seven wins against its bitter division rival in the last eight meetings. Take the Leafs in seven in this playoff series.

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The 2018 #StanleyCup Playoffs begin April 11. https://t.co/nIUYoHZjaQ pic.twitter.com/HrAfPJvhO5

— NHL (@NHL) April 9, 2018
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Western Conference First Round Upset Pick

In another No. 2 vs. No. 3 opening round division matchup, the Anaheim Ducks take on the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks were eight points behind Vegas in the Pacific Division with 101 total points, but just one point ahead of San Jose in the final standings.

Anaheim does bring some solid momentum into this series with a five-game winning streak as part of an 8-1-1 run over its last 10 games. This run should be tempered with the fact that the Ducks closed as solid favorites in each of their last seven games against a number of teams that had already been eliminated from postseason contention.

The Sharks have been less impressive down the stretch at 5-4-1 over their last 10 games. With Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Minnesota as -170 home favorites, they have posted just one victory in their last six games, which should give bettors a cause for concern. Looking at San Jose’s entire body of work this season, it is still one of the better defensive teams in the league in goals allowed. Martin Jones comes into this series with a goals-against average of 2.55 over the course of 60 starts, but his GAA against Anaheim this season in three starts is 1.55.

San Jose won the season series against Anaheim 3-1 with three of the games decided in overtime. This playoff series should be another seven-game affair, but I have the Sharks winning four of those games.

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