Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs got off to a ridiculous start. The Lightning and Blue Jackets needed five overtimes to decide a winner and by the time the game was over the Bruins and Hurricanes, slated for an 8 p.m. ET start in Toronto, were back in The Bubble after the NHL postponed their Game 1 until 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
They truly mean it when they say anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What kind of high jinks will we see on Wednesday night? Our NHL analysts share their favorite bets below:
Sam Hitchcock: Islanders-Capitals Under 5.5 (-139)
- Odds available at BETMGM [Bet Now]
- Puck Drop: 3 p.m. ET
Something isn’t right. The stats support the eye test that the Washington Capitals are struggling to find their mojo, especially offensively.
In the postseason at even strength, they rank dead last in shots per 60 minutes and their goals per hour is 1.54. Only the St. Louis Blues created less high-danger chances per 60 minutes.
Teammates Travis Boyd and Richard Panik have more goals than Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Vrana at the moment. To make matters worse, in the first round Washington faces coach Barry Trotz, the doyen of defensive gridlock. As the former coach of the Capitals, he has a unique understanding of their vulnerabilities.
The Islanders thrashed the Florida Panthers in the qualifying round, holding their adversary to the fewest shots per 60 minutes at even strength of any team in the postseason. The Islanders’ asphyxiating structure snuffed out the Panthers’ star forwards, and goaltender Semyon Varlamov finished the series with a Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) of 2.
I think Trotz will make this series as ugly as possible by taking away Washington’s speed in the neutral zone and by draining the game of odd-man rushes. I see it being very cycle-heavy and extremely physical.
There is the possibility that this game sees a cluster of penalties and the scoring pings upward. But the chances are high that most of this game is played in the neutral zone and along the boards. The ingredients are there for a play at the under.
Pete Truszkowski: Colorado to Win in Regulation (-106)
- Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
- Puck Drop: 5:30 p.m. ET
The Qualifying Round was full of drama and intrigue, making it extremely fun to watch. The 11th-seeded Arizona Coyotes were one of many underdogs to come out and knock off a higher seed. While it was exciting to watch it happen live, we now must deal with matchups in this round that seem even more decidedly one-sided on paper.
Colorado was one of the NHL’s best teams this past season. Their good form continued in the round-robin games, going 2-0-1 and outplaying all three of Vegas, St. Louis and Dallas.
On the other hand, Arizona defeated the Nashville Predators in four games. That series came down to the simple fact that Darcy Kuemper was awesome and Juuse Saros was garbage.
The comparison between the two teams isn’t particularly close. Corsi, expected goals, high danger chances all show Colorado as a much better team than the Arizona Coyotes.
Arizona was outplayed by Nashville for almost their whole series, and Colorado is two or three tiers ahead of Nashville.
The lone question mark for Colorado isn’t really a concern. There is a goalie battle brewing, and we’re not sure whether Philipp Grubauer or Pavel Francouz will get the start. Francouz was the slightly better goalie during the regular season but Grubauer is adequate himself.
Arizona might get Nick Schmaltz back from injury which is a welcome addition but not really a game changer.
This pick comes down to the simple fact that Colorado is a much better team than Nashville. There’s no chance you’ll see me laying -180 in an NHL game so we have to find another avenue to attack it.
The puck-line is interesting at +155 but those are always unpredictable. I think Colorado takes care of business and doesn’t need overtime to do it. Sixty-minute regulation lines are available at most books and I would be comfortable betting this one up to -120.
Michael Leboff: Montreal Canadiens Series Moneyline (+195)
- Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
- Puck Drop: 8 p.m. ET
Philadelphia is the better team in this matchup. The odds at DraftKings (-240/+195) imply that the Flyers should win this series 67.6% of the time, but I’m not sure the gap between these two teams is that wide.
If you compare these rosters side by side, you’d come away thinking the Flyers are a little bit better in basically every spot and thus, more likely to win. That’s all well and good, but that’s not the question we’re trying to answer as bettors.
The quandary we’re faced with is more nuanced than that: It comes down to price. Would you feel more comfortable paying a steep price on Philadelphia against a team that is better than it has looked all season?
I have a hard time backing Philadelphia at such a short price, and I have an equally tough time passing on Montreal at these odds.
I’dm backing Montreal to win the series at +185 or better and +135 or better to win Game 1.