The Western Conference is always a lot of fun. As an Eastern Ontario guy it feels like I really get to become invested in the Western Conference come playoff time and that brings with it a fresh feeling when watching some of these playoff series. That said, I still feel like I have a pretty good read on each of these series and I really like some of the prices for a couple underdogs in what is a very tight checking and “anything can happen” conference.
I’ll be using the best odds available for the team I’m taking from any of our recommended sportsbooks for Canadian bettors.
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***And check out my Eastern Conference series picks here.
Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs Nashville Predators (WC2)
- Blackhawks 1.50
- Predators 2.75
I’m surprised that the Blackhawks are such big favourites in this series. Sure, Chicago had a great season and they have the high end talent and experience, but in my eyes these are two very evenly matched teams. Chicago backed into the playoffs, losing their final four games and I’m not convinced that the Blackhawks have the depth to make a significant run this year. That said, the other two times the Blackhawks finished atop the Central Division they went on to win the Stanley Cup, so they are a serious threat, but I still think this is a close series.
The Predators lost a tight second round battle with the eventual Western Conference winning San Jose Sharks in 7 games last year and I think this is a more complete team this time around. The Preds have a solid lineup from top to bottom and can play a fast paced, in your face game that could make it hard on the Blackhawks ageing back end.
This is a tough one for me to call. I’m leaning towards the Blackhawks if this was a pick’em series, but at these odds I think the sharp money has to be on the Predators. I won’t have a lot of action on this series, but the action I do have will be on Nashville to take a close series.
Play: Predators 2.75 @ SportsInteraction.com
Minnesota Wild (2) vs St. Louis Blues (3)
- Wild 1.68
- Blues 2.40
I’m absolutely shocked that the Blues are such significant underdogs in this series. The Blues have been a different team since the coaching change in early February and have been arguably the best team in the league down the stretch winning 15 of their final 19 games and closing out the season with 3 straight wins. The addition of Vladimir Sobotka can only help them heading into the postseason as he’s in great form after a solid season in the KHL and he’s the type of guy who can play any situation. The Blues made some big strides in the playoffs last year, advancing to the Conference Finals and I think this could be their year to really make their move.
The Wild closed out the season with 4 straight wins, but when you look at the teams they beat (Avs x2, Canes and Coyotes) that doesn’t look so impressive anymore. Before that the Wild were 3-10-2 in their previous 15 and I’m not totally convinced that the Wild truly found good form just because of those wins over basement dwelling teams.
St. Louis is actually my pick to win the Cup this year, so I’m all over them at these odds to get out of the first round.
Play: Blues 2.40
Anaheim Ducks (1) vs Calgary Flames (WC1)
- Ducks 1.59
- Flames 2.55
I expect this to be the most lopsided series in this first round. The Ducks play with too much speed and aggression for the Flames to handle. The Ducks took two games from the Flames last week and I expect the series to play out in largely the same manner as though games. This will be a gritty, hard fought series and that plays right into the hands of the Ducks.
I expect Anaheim to be able to shut down the Gaudreau-Monahan tandem and if they can quiet those guys down I don’t think the Flames will be able to mount enough offense to compete with the balanced attack of the Ducks.
I already put a few bucks on the Ducks to get a sweep in this series and I will likely be adding more action on the Ducks getting the series win today or tomorrow.
Play: Ducks 1.59
Edmonton Oilers (2) vs San Jose Sharks (3)
- Oilers 1.71
- Sharks 2.25
The Sharks top shut down pairing of Vlasic and Braun have seen a lot of Connor McDavid this year and they still haven’t been able to stop him. McDavid has a goal and an assist in four of the five games the Oilers have played against the Sharks this year, so they’ve only been able to keep him off the scoresheet in 1 of 5 games. To make matters worse for the Sharks, McDavid is playing his best hockey of the year heading into the playoffs.
I do not foresee the Sharks being able to slow McDavid down and I think this Oilers team truly believes in their abilities and will not be content just making it to the playoffs. I also see a Sharks team that looks tired and although they won their final 3 games, they aren’t in great form. Prior to that little winning streak the team had won just 1 of 9 games in the second half of March.
The Sharks made it to the finals last year and I just don’t see the same desire from them this time around. The big dogs on the Sharks have played a ton of hockey when you look at their run to the Cup finals last year and the World Cup of Hockey in the summer and let’s be honest, the big dogs are not getting any younger. It’s now the Oilers time and they will get out of this series with a win.
Play: Oilers 1.71
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