2017 NHL Eastern Conference Round 1 Series Picks

The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway tomorrow and unlike last year there is plenty of Canadian content among the 16 teams in the tournament.  I’ve done very well with series picks in past years and I feel like I have a good read on pretty much every series once again this year, so I’m excited to make some profit here in round 1.

The odds I’m using are from any of our top 3 sportsbooks for Canadian bettors.  I’m using the odds with the best return for the team I like to win each series.

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Washington Capitals (1) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (WC2)

  • Capitals 1.25
  • Maple Leafs 4.20

This is the easiest series to pick in the entire round.  You have the best team in the NHL in the Capitals playing the only team in the playoffs who lost more games than they won in the Toronto Maple Leafs.  We aren’t getting a great return on the Caps with the odds set at about 4/1 that the Leafs pull off the upset, but I give the Leafs more of a 10% chance of winning this series (if that).  It will be a victory for Toronto if they even win a game against the high powered Capitals, so taking the Caps at odds of 1.25 is a safe bet.

Play: Capitals 1.25

Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (3)

  • Penguins 1.61
  • Blue Jackets 2.60

This is a series I’ve been going back and forth on.  The absence of Kris Letang is going to be a huge hole for the Penguins in these playoffs.  The Pens do not have a very strong defensive corps on paper and I think the speed and depth of the Blue Jackets up front will make life very difficult for the Penguins to keep the puck out of their net.

Of course, Crosby and Malkin have the ability to take over a series, but I think they will need to do just that if the Penguins are going to defeat the Jackets this round.  The Blue Jackets have more depth than the Pens and if Bobrovsky can get going like he has at times this season then the Pens will have a tough time putting the puck in the net.

The red flag though I see is the form that the Blue Jackets are in coming into the playoffs.  The Jackets had lost 6 games in a row before their comeback win over the Leafs on Sunday, which is definitely a red flag for me because I love teams in form coming into the playoffs, which you’ll notice in my other series breakdowns.  That said, I liked the way they played against the Leafs in what would have felt like a playoff atmosphere in Toronto.  They battled back from two goals down against a team that desperately wanted the win and I think that will give them confidence heading into this series and could turn them around.

To me, the Jackets are at worst a coin flip in this series so I’m all over Columbus at these odds.

Play: Blue Jackets 2.60 @ SportsInteraction.com

Montreal Canadiens (1) vs New York Rangers (WC2)

  • Canadiens 1.71
  • Rangers 2.20

This series is a tale of two teams who look fairly even on paper, but who are trending in opposite directions heading into the playoffs.  The Habs won 6 of their final 8 games down the stretch and they seem to be in good form under coach Claude Julien at this point in the season.  The Habs are such a hot and cold team that I really wanted to see good form heading into this series if I was going to back them.

It also helps seeing that the Rangers are backing into the playoffs with only 4 wins in their last 13 games.  Lundqvist has also looked very shaky since returning from injury and I have to give a massive edge to the Canadiens in between the pipes.

This should still be a close series, but I like the Habs to get the job done.

Play: Canadiens 1.71

Ottawa Senators (2) vs Boston Bruins (3)

  • Senators 2.60
  • Bruins 1.59

I was very surprised when I saw the Senators as such big underdogs in their series with the Bruins.  The Senators won all four games against the Bruins this season, have home ice advantage and are also getting healthy at just the right time.  Meanwhile, the Bruins will be without their top defensemen, Torey Krug, for at least the starting of the series.

The Sens have a ton of depth up front with the additions of Stalberg, Burrows, White and the return of Clarke MacArthur.  This is one of the healthiest the Senators have been all season and I really think this is their time to make a deep run, considering they have likely the easiest path of anyone in the East.

So long as the Senators are able to keep the Bergeron-Marchand duo under a goal combined per game in this series I really think they have a significant edge.  Even if this was a pick’em series I would be taking the Sens, so at these odds I’m all-in.

Play: Senators 2.60

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