NHL Playoffs – Eastern Conference

Beyond the Pittsburgh Penguins it seems that most bettors are torn as to which team will have the best shot at representing the East in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals.

 

In this exclusive NHL playoff preview we break down all four matchups in the East with picks and predictions for who will advance to the next round.

 

[dropcap2]P[/dropcap2]ittsburgh’s biggest problem used to be an inability to beat the Eastern Conference’s top teams but after going 36-12, the Pens are indeed the Beasts of the East and ready to take on the pack, starting with the New York Islanders.

 

Few pundits even had the Islanders pencilled to make the postseason and series pricing favors the Penguins (-417) vs. a payback of +359 on New York. So what chance does an eight-seed coming off five-straight road games and riding a three-game winless streak have taking down the almighty Penguins?

 

Well for starters, there is no pressure on New York whatsoever. Second, the Isles posted an impressive 14-6-4 road record this season but we should point out that in three trips to Pittsburgh the Isles were outscored 9-5 (1-2). New York’s top line of Matt Moulson, John Tavares and Brad Boyes are a threat every time they step on the ice but depth and special teams are a concern.

 

We are not going to count the New York Islanders out of the conversation completely but in a round that usually closer than most expect, Pittsburgh gets the nod for their ability to win battles in tight games.

Pick-Sixty Strategy: Take the Penguins in exactly six games (+381)

 

Bonus Pick: Take the first game between New York and Pittsburgh “Under” 5.5 (-104)

 

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Betting Tip: One-third of all games in the first round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs went to OT and two-thirds were decided by one goal

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The next series we’ll look at is No. 2 seed Montreal (-146) hosting No. 7 Ottawa (+132). A cold front blew into La Belle Ville April 9 and from then until April 23, Montreal went 1-5 getting outscored 4.7 to 2.3 (4-1-1 O/U). Location didn’t seem to matter and now as Les Habitants get set to face Craig Anderson and the stingy Senators, the question is whether they will have the ability to elevate their game.

 

Anderson’s .941 save percentage is the highest-ever for a goalie who has played more than 20 games in the NHL. He takes up a lot of space and Montreal will jam the front of the net looking for rebounds but the return of defenseman Erik Karlsson could be a big difference. Montreal is a tough venue but Ottawa is loaded with veteran leadership and this team fought through a lot of adversity to make it to this point in the season.

Pick-Sixty Strategy: Take the Senators in a series upset

 

Read our Western Conference Preview for picks and predictions in all four series!

 

The Washington Capitals (+105) sizzled down the stretch but they’ll run into a tough test against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers (-116). Washington beat the Rangers four games to one in the 2011 playoffs and lost in seven games during Round 2 last year. The Over/Under record for those two seasons is 1 over, 7 unders and 4 pushes so you can expect books to charge a premium on single-game unders.

 

Five of the last six regular season meetings between these teams finished with exactly five total goals and the other was a 2-1 Rangers home win (Feb. 17). It’s hard not to expect a tight, lower scoring series that goes seven games so we’ll cautiously put our money on the Caps.

Pick-Sixty Strategy: Take the Capitals

 

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In 2012, eleven of the Rangers’ first 14 playoff games were decided by a one goal margin

 

Our final Round 1 series in the East is between the Bruins (-217) and Maple Leafs (+194). Boston started April with four wins in five games but took a nosedive from there, finishing with a 2-5-2 record in their final nine games. The Bruins can start fast and ranked first in first period scoring during the 2011 playoffs, tied for 10th in the 2012 playoffs and ranked 7th in first period scoring during the 2013 regular season. James Reimer will have his hands full but he at least has the league’s second best penalty kill (87.9-percent) to help bail him out if things get hairy.

 

Toronto’s Phil Kessel had at least one point in 11 of the last 12 games and while he deflects attention from the media for this recent struggles against Boston, Toronto needs its other players to step up. The Leafs led the league in hits and fighting majors but fighting will not get you far in the NHL playoffs. If the Leafs try too hard to get physical the Bruins know how to make them pay.

Pick-Sixty Strategy: Give Boston the edge for playoff experience and take the Bruins to win in six

 

There are a lot of different approaches to playoff betting in any sport but here`s a bit of advice on how to tackle the NHL postseason. After handicapping each series, take a step back and look at the big picture. Make a few solid series predictions and then sit back and enjoy the games. Playoffs are full of surprises, especially in the first round. The fact this is a shortened season makes it even more likely we see some shockers in Round 1 but it`s a long haul ahead. We`ll be here for the ride; good luck with your plays.

 

To discuss NHL Playoff picks and betting strategies daily, visit the EveryEdge sports betting forum!

NHL Playoffs – Western Conference

The NHL lockout is a distant memory for the majority of hockey betting enthusiasts and now it’s time to break down the Stanley Cup contenders in Round 1 of the playoffs.

 

Chicago will take on the Minnesota Wild in the first-ever playoff meeting between these two franchises. It’s the first playoff appearance since 2008 for the Wild and after getting blown out by the Oilers Friday, they almost missed their chance completely. Instead, Minnesota regrouped and beat the lowly Colorado Avalanche to claim the No. 8 seed in the West.

 

The Hawks (36-7-5) ranked second in league scoring, can win home or away and bring the look of a group focused on winning their second Cup in four years. Chicago was 10-3-2 in its past 15 games and it will be a tall order for the Wild (26-19-3) replicating last year’s eight-seed upset by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.

Pick Sixty Strategy: Take the Hawks in exactly six games

 

No. 2 seed Anaheim will take on the Detroit Red Wings and the Ducks had a winning record home and away but Joe Louis Arena can be a difficult stage for any team. Anaheim has depth in net but either Jonas Hiller or Viktor Fasth will have to come to the forefront and prove they have the mettle to win in the postseason.

 

Anaheim (30-12-6) is 7-5-1 in its past 13 but the Wings (24-16-8) have won four-straight, outscoring opponents 15-3 in that span.

Pick Sixty Playoff Strategy: Take the Wings in an series upset

 

The Vancouver Canucks face San Jose in the third Western Conference matchup and assuming Cory Schneider is good to go; Vancouver (26-15-7) is poised to advance. The power play needs to stay effective and the penalty kill, which finished eighth overall, will have to stay sharp against San Jose’s (25-16-7) seventh-ranked power play unit.

Pick Sixty Playoff Strategy: Take the Canucks in seven

 

Los Angeles takes on St. Louis in one of the more intriguing matchups and the pressure is on the Kings (27-16-5) to finally find the playoff groove that took them to the Cup in 2012. LA hasn’t been a “bad” team this year but they’ve fallen short of expectations and goaltending is a concern. If Jonathan Quick brings his A-game this series will go seven games but St. Louis (29-17-2) are one of the league’s hottest teams (12-3 last 15) and look ready for a fight.

 

Sports betting sites will offer some nice value on the Blues and while it is far from a best bet, we project St. Louis advancing to the second round.

 

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NHL Picks: Coyotes at Red Wings

Two NHL teams battling for their playoff lives hookup tonight in Detroit and our hockey picks look for underdog value supported by a nice NHL system.

 

Phoenix helped its playoff cause with a 3-2 shootout win against Chicago on Saturday when Mike Smith made 36 saves through overtime in his return after missing two games with a lower-body injury. Smith intends on playing in Phoenix’s final four games and Jimmy Howard will start for Detroit, who online sports betting shops have touted as a -150 moneyline favorite

 

The Coyotes, 2-0-2 in their last four road games, will try to come away with two points at Detroit for the first time since Oct. 28, 2010. Including playoffs, the Yotes have dropped five-straight at the Joe but this is not the same old Red Wings team.

 

Detroit is 1-2-3 in their last six and 3-5-3 in the club’s past 11 games, a stretch that includes a 4-2 loss in Phoenix on April 4. At home the Wings have a 1-3-2 in their last six outings and they’ll try and right that ship as the team gets set to finish with three consecutive games in the Motor City.

 

The Red Wings are averaging 1.73 goals in their last 11 games after registering 2.67 goals per contest in their first 33. Detroit got its only score in a 2-1 shootout loss in Vancouver on Saturday in the final seconds of the first period and only Nashville has scored fewer goals among Western Conference teams.

 

SYSTEM SAYS

Phoenix has fired 30-plus shots on goal per game against its past five-straight opponents and it sets the Coyotes up for this NHL system with a 57-percent hit rate since 1996:

 

– Play ON money line road dogs (Coyotes) who have averaged 30 or more shots on goal in five consecutive games that allow their opponents an average of four or less power play opportunities per game.

 

This system is 6-1 in 2013 and has a solid 81-61 record since 1996 for a net profit of plus-44 units. As the Desert Dogs fight to stay alive we are backing them with excellent road dog value.

Pick: Take the Coyotes

 

Stats for this Pick Sixty Sports write-up were provided by Greg Dempson, professional handicapper and long-time friend of the site. Greg has been providing picks and sports handicapping information for nearly 40 years covering hockey along with NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. For free picks daily and winning systems visit Greg Dempson Sports!