Round 1 Recap: NHL Playoff Profits

The first round of the postseason ended Monday with the Bruins beating the Leafs in overtime and New York blanking the Capitals for the second straight night

 

[dropcap2]N[/dropcap2]HL bettors are eagerly anticipating the puck drop for Round 2 of NHL playoff betting but first we’ll look back at our Round 1 picks and update the ledger.

 

In our Eastern and Western Conference previews we offered predictions for all eight first round series with strategies for how to sidestep some of the high juice being charged by online sportsbooks in series such as the Wild vs. Blackhawks or Islanders vs. Penguins. Five of our eight predicted winners from the first round have advanced but because we suggested betting ‘Exact Series’ pricing, only three of those five plays cashed tickets.

 

The upside is that Pittsburgh won its series vs. New York in six games and that generated a +381 payback from NHL odds at Pinnacle, more than covering losses from Chicago and Boston, teams who we also thought would need six games. Profit from Exact Series Picks = +$181

 

Our other series winners included Detroit (+138) and Ottawa (+132) but we fell short with the Capitals (7 games), Blues (7 games) and Canucks (4 games). It would have been nice to collect with just one of those dogs in Game 7 but thanks to our first two pups cashing the damage was minimal. Loss from Flat Series Picks = -$54

 

In the Eastern Conference preview we also gave a free pick on the Pens-Isles staying “Under” 5 in game 1, another winner, but gave that unit back in the Over/Under selection from game 3 between the Blues and Kings. Net Profit from Round 1 of the Playoffs = +$102

 

Sports betting shops are just releasing Best of Seven Series Prices for the Conference Semi-Finals and after crunching the numbers we’ll be back with a closer look. For now, visit the EveryEdge hockey forum to join the debate with other puckheads as to which teams have the best chance of advancing to the final four.

 

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Crunch Time! Penguins, Islanders, Game 6

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from clinching a berth in the second round.

 

The first four games of this NHL playoff series treated “Over” bettors to a 3-1 record and prompted Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma to make a goaltending change, calling on the services of Tomas Vokoun to try and stifle New York’s attack.

 

After all, that’s what Vokoun was brought in for – to provide a one of the most talented offensive teams in the league with backup plan should Marc-Andre Fleury’s shaky playoff history continue.

 

Through four games the series was tied 2-2 and after posting a 5-0 shutout in the opener, Fleury had allowed 14 goals in three games. It was time to shake things up and in Game 5; Vokoun answered the call by turning away 31 shots for a 4-0 win.

 

Pick Sixty Sports has a series play pending on Pens in exactly six games at +381 so our first instinct here is to hedge on New York but before that we had to handicap NHL odds for today’s game and see if the line made any sense. READ ALL EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF PICKS HERE!

 

– Game 1, the Pens were -230 and then after winning, they went to -220 for game 2

 

– With the series split, the Pens were -154 and then up 2-1, sportsbooks went to -159 for game 4

 

In Game 5 the betting line was -230 at home, right back where it was for game 1 and now with the Pens one verge of knocking New York out they are -161 favorites with a total of 5.5 Over (-110).

 

Pittsburgh was 8-1 on the road with Vokoun manning the crease this season, outscoring opponents 40-24. He had one shutout Jan. 31 in New York against the Rangers (28 saves) and followed it with a 6-3 win at Washington Feb. 3.

 

Vokoun beat the New York Islanders 4-2 on Mar. 22, stopping 33 of 35 shots he faced and his record against the Isles is impeccable (4-1). On Jan. 29, Vokoun lost 4-1 at home to this opponent but look at his track record since then:

 

Mar. 10, Pens win 6-1 at home; 23 saves

Mar. 22, Pens win 4-2 in NY; 33 saves

Mar. 30, Pens win 2-0 at home; 35 saves

May 9, Pens win 4-0 at home; 31 saves

 

Vokoun was credited with three regular season shutouts this season but it was really more like 3.5 since he combined with Fleury for a 1-0 win in Montreal on Mar. 26 after Fleury was forced to leave the game from being hit. Vokoun also blanked the Rangers, Jets and Isles with the recent two most recent coming right just days after filling in at the Bell Centre.

 

Playoffs records from Vokoun’s days with Nashville seem irrelevant here since they were so long ago (2004-07). Not to mention that comparing Pittsburgh’s offense to the Preds is like a red wagon going up against a tank.

 

New York’s only chance to win this game is by scoring at least three goals so perhaps the Isles Team Total Over 2.5 (-105) is worth a look for a hedge but every way we look at this game, Pittsburgh is likely poised to put out the lights tonight.

 

CHECK IT

In the -120 to -170 range, playoff road faves since 2007 were 43-23 (3.2 to 2.5) and the most recent trend shows 12 overs, 3 unders and a push with scoring averages of 3.5 to 3.1.

 

Pittsburgh has scored 21 goals in this series and there is little to suggest they will slow down tonight. Facing elimination, New York could pull their goalie early and with help from an empty netter, this game could end up finding its way to six goals. Vokoun is the variable, though, and his track record has us confident that this series will end in regulation time tonight.

 

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NHL Playoff Picks: Blues at Kings

The St. Louis Blues are looking like a serious playoff contender the way they shook off the late LA goal in game 1 to win in OT and then staged a third period comeback to win game 2.

 

Now the Blues travel out the West Coast for games 3 and 4 with a chance to repay the Kings for last year’s playoff sweep.

 

Los Angeles was 19-4-1 at home during the 2013 regular season, averaging 3.1 goals per game (GPG). They were also 6-3 at home in last year’s playoffs (2-7 O/U) and while LA still averaged 2.4 GPG, they held opponents to just 1.4 GPG.

 

The LA numbers were given a boost by that 6-1 win in the Cup clinching game 6 vs. New Jersey but in two home games vs. the Blues, LA scored 4 and 3 goals – all in regulation.

 

The defending Stanley Cup champs are backed against the wall and I think they will find a way to score at least two goals in this game. St. Louis needs to conquer its demons in this series and while that means sticking to their gameplan, I don’t think Ken Hitchcock will allow his team to just sit back for 60 minutes during the the next two games and not expect this series to suddenly be knotted at 2-2.

 

St. Louis (2-0) won each of the first two games by a score of 2-1 and it has forced books to price this game at 4.5 OV -123. The Kings are favored in the -140 to -150 range.

 

Playoff home faves of -135 or more are 8-6 SU and 11-3 O/U with a total of 4.5 since 2007, outscoring the visitor 2.9 to 2.4. The home team has scored 2-plus goals in 11 of 14 games.

Pick: Take the Over 4.5 -125