Well, things couldn’t have gone much better yesterday.
Favorites went 3-2, though the two losses were served up by the two biggest underdogs on the slate. Both No. 12 seeds, Chicago and Montreal, won Game 1 to put some serious pressure on Edmonton and Pittsburgh, respectively.
Will we see more upsets on Sunday? Hopefully.
The point of this article is to give readers some quick-and-actionable tips on each game, in case you don’t have time to take a deep dive with me in my game previews. If you’d like to dig into each matchup in more detail, you know with numbers and stuff, you can find those previews here:
Arizona Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators
2 p.m. ET, USA Network
I’m interested to see how the market continues to react to the ongoing Chayka saga. The Predators opened as -129 favorites to win this series at DraftKings, so they’ve already taken money and if that number continues to creep up I think we’re going to see some value open up on Arizona, though I’m going to wait to see if Arizona can get closer to +120 before playing them to win the best-of-5.
As for Game 1, the price at the moment looks appropriate, though I am leaning towards Arizona there as well. If you’re just looking for action, a bet on the Coyotes is the way I’d go at the current odds, but I’m hoping the market will move towards Nashville and a better number, perhaps in the +115 range, will pop on the Desert Dogs.
Kuemper may not be able to put the team on his back for the whole tournament, but he’s definitely capable of doing it in a short series.
Pick: Coyotes to win Game 1 at +115 or better
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
8 p.m. ET, NBC
Columbus flew under the radar for much of 2019/20 and I don’t expect that to change in this series. Bettors typically gravitate towards more exciting teams like Toronto, so don’t be surprised if the Leafs are one of the most popular teams during the qualifying round.
That is good news for underdog bettors as it means that the price should stay relatively high on the Jackets throughout this series. When you convert the Game 1 odds to implied probability, you get Toronto with nearly a 60% chance of winning:
- Maple Leafs: 59.2% win probability
- Blue Jackets: 40.8% win probability
I’m not arguing that the Leafs aren’t deserving favorites, they are, but this price is too high considering the path to success for Columbus. I like a bet on Columbus in Game 1 at +130 or better, to win the series at +135 or better and to win the Stanley Cup at +5500 or better.
Picks: Columbus to win Game 1 at +130 or better; Columbus to win the series at +135 or better
Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks
10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Even with their goaltending woes, I think the Wild should be favorites in this game and series.
They are the better 5-on-5 team, they are much better defensively and their offense has proven it can score enough to help the defense overcome the goaltending problem.
I’m happy to take a chance on the Wild given their metrics. They may not look like a high-ceiling team, but if they can get league-average goaltending from Stalock or Dubnyk or a zamboni driver they are a live dog not only in this series but in the playoffs, too.
The market seems to agree with me as the Wild have shortened considerably since this market opened. After starting out in the +105 range, Minnesota is a -115 favorite at bet365 while most other books have this game as a pick ’em.
I wouldn’t go much further than -120 on the Wild for Game 1, though I’d be shocked if we got there. I also think, if you’re looking for a team to root for at long odds, you can do a lot worse than 45-1 on Minnesota to win the Cup.
Pick: Minnesota -115 or better to win Game 1