Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs was great for me personally. First of all, as an Ottawa resident and lifelong Senators fan, it was great to see them step up and beat the Bruins in a hard fought series. Secondly, on a financial level, the first round was also a great success. I went 6-2 with my series picks and 3-0 on the series I bet big on (Sens, Blues and Ducks). It’s a good start, but there’s still a lot of hockey yet to be played and more profit to be made throughout these playoffs. Let’s get into round 2!
I’ll be using the best odds available for the team I’m taking from any of our recommended sportsbooks for Canadian bettors.
Washington Capitals (1) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
- Capitals 1.83
- Penguins 2.00
The two current favourites to win the Cup meet in round 2. Whichever team comes out of this series will be the overwhelming favourite to take the Stanley Cup this year, so this is a series that will garner a ton of attention. The Caps and Pens have battled it out several times before and it’s usually Crosby and company getting the best of Ovechkin and the Caps in the playoffs. Will it be the same this year or will this be the year the Caps finally emerge from the Metropolitan division. It’s pretty crazy that the Caps haven’t advanced past the second round in the entire Ovechkin era.
I’m going against history in this series and saying that the Caps will finally get the job done. I think the adversity they faced in the first round against the Leafs will help them as they head into this series with the Pens, and I also think that the Leafs were a much more difficult opponent than the Jackets turned out to be. Bobrovsky and the entire Jackets team did not perform defensively in the series with the Penguins. I took the Jackets in round 1, and I clearly didn’t take into account how poorly the team was playing heading into the playoffs. It’s tough to just turn that around at the flip of the switch and the Penguins took advantage. That said, I still believe that the Pens have a lot of holes in their defensive game and the Caps should be able to expose them, while containing the offensive firepower of the Pens up front.
This is the series where the Penguins will really feel the lack of Kris Letang at the back end. The Caps have two high powered offensive lines and great depth that will really push the pace against this Penguins D that I do not think will be up to the challenge. I also think that the loss of Matt Murray will be felt much more in this round because he is a better high pressure goaltender than Fleury, and a bad goal here or there could really change the complexion of this series in the Capitals favour.
Holtby and the Caps seemed to calm down in the final two games against the Leafs and really recommit to the defensive side of the puck. I expect Holtby to continue this solid play and outplay Fleury in this series.
The more I think about this matchup, the more I like the Caps and think it’s their time to take that big step in the playoffs.
Play: Capitals 1.83
Ottawa Senators (2) vs New York Rangers (WC1)
- Senators 2.40
- Rangers 1.64
The Sens and Rangers both had very hard fought series against the Bruins and Canadiens respectively. Both teams won each of their four games by a single goal (not including empty-netters) with the Sens actually taking down 3 OT games en route to the series win.
The oddsmakers have both the Rangers and Sens as the two teams least likely to win the Cup of the remaining 8, but somebody has to win this series and I expect it to be a close one.
I’m once again going with the Ottawa Senators to pull off another minor upset. The Sens carried the play against the Bruins and were able to come up big in big moments. The Bruins were a depleted team, but it was actually their newcomers like McAvoy, Kuraly and Acciari who really picked up the slack and played well in the series, so I’m not discounting the Senators efforts based on the Bruins being banged up.
Karlsson has been the best player in the playoffs and these extra 4 days off should allow him to heal up even more, so that he can once again be the big impact player that the Sens need in this series. Bobby Ryan and Derrick Brassard have both awoken for the Senators in these playoffs and if that continues the Senators have a great shot to advance to the Conference Finals.
Henrik Lundqvist played extremely well in round 1 against the Habs, but I still believe he’s a bit past his prime and I question whether he can continue that strong play into the second round.
Overall, I see this as a pick’em series at worst, while giving a slight edge to the Senators, so at this price I’m once again all over the Sens to win another series.
Play: Senators 2.40
St. Louis Blues (3) vs Nashville Predators (WC2)
- Blues 1.95
- Predators 1.91
This is the series I’m having the most difficulty handicapping. I likely won’t be placing a big bet on this one, but I’ll still give you my take even though it’s just a lean.
I think home ice will be a factor in this series. The Blues and Preds are both teams that perform far better at home. The Blues have been relying heavily on the Arvidsson-Johansen-Forsberg line to provide offense and I have to give the edge to the Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester pairing when the Blues have last change on home ice.
The return of Paul Stastny will also provide the Blues with more scoring depth up front, which will be needed against this tight checking Predators squad.
The Blues didn’t look as good beating the Wild as the Preds did beating the Blackhawks in round 1, but St. Louis still just found ways to win. The Blues have now won 19 of their last 24 games dating back to the regular season.
This will be a tight checking series with a lot of 1 goal games, but the way the Blues have found ways to win over their past 24 games should translate to success against the Preds.
Play: Blues 1.95
Anaheim Ducks (1) vs Edmonton Oilers (2)
- Ducks 1.77
- Oilers 2.10
This is another tough series to pick. I like the Ducks to win, but I think it will be a very close series that could go either way. That said, I am leaning toward the Ducks and will have some action on Anaheim to get the job done here.
The Ducks have a lot of speed up front and they should be able to make life difficult for the Oilers inexperienced back end in this series. The depth of the Ducks up front and the spread of scoring across the top 3 lines will also make it very difficult for the Oilers to get the matchups they like in this series. On the flip side you can be confident that Kesler and Cogliano will be tasked with slowing down Conor McDavid and I expect that Kesler will be able to get under McDavid’s skin.
Ryan Getzlaf has been playing some tremendous hockey for the past few months and when he is on his A-game he makes everyone around him better. Again, I like the fact that the Ducks have spread their high end guys across the top 3 lines with none of Getzlaf, Perry or Kesler playing on the same line to this point in the playoffs.
The Ducks depth and experience should play a huge factor in this series and the return of Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen on the blue line will make this Ducks team even stronger heading into the second round.
Play: Ducks 1.77