While the Western Conference playoffs appear to have a true front runner, the Eastern Conference is far more wide open. Who do we pick from the east to advance to round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in this year?
The NHL matchups for this years Stanley Cup playoffs have just been released. Lets take a look at the first round matchups for the Eastern Conference and decide which pairings hold the best NHL betting values, and which series might be a lot tighter than the NHL odds makers would have you believe.
Here is a quick look at each of the matchups and our NHL picks for the series result.
Check out our picks for the NHL Western Conference
Eastern Conference Breakdown
New York Rangers are the leader in the clubhouse but there’s still a “prove it
to us” aura about them that the bettors are skeptical of. Any time a team comes
out of nowhere to have a huge season, there’s going to be some explaining to do
come playoff time and with the Rangers, pundits aren’t quite sure. Meanwhile,
the winner of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers series could win the
conference. The Flyers have shown how lethal they can be when goaltender Ilya
Bryzgalov is on while the Penguins have shown how much of a challenge they are
without Sidney Crosby, so they can be unstoppable – at times – with him.
then there’s also the Boston Bruins, who are the reigning Stanley Cup champions
and finished the season on a hot streak, and the New Jersey Devils, who could
be quite overlooked. There’s also the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and
there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that the Eastern Conference first round
playoff series look a little more clear-cut than the West’s first round:
No. 8 Ottawa
Senators vs. No. 1 New York Rangers
Ottawa Senators weren’t even expected to be in the playoffs to begin with, so
they’re already playing with the house’s money. Even so, they’ll be kicking
themselves a bit that they didn’t take advantage of the Boston Bruins slump to
take control of the division and the No. 2 seed in the conference. Instead, the
Sens lost three straight – and eight of their last 13 – to drop down to the No.
be told, facing Boston wouldn’t have gone well for Ottawa since they lost five
of six in the season series and have had no success against them in recent
seasons. But for the Rangers, this is a perfect “training wheels” first-round
matchup that should allow them to get momentum on their side before the big boy
stuff starts in the second round.
though the Sens won three of four in the regular season series, don’t expect
them to do much here. Ottawa relies on offense and if Henrik Lundqvist plays
anything like he’s capable of, he’s going to stymie the Sens. The Rangers are
too disciplined to slip up here.
Pick: Rangers in
No. 7 Washington
Capitals vs. No. 2 Boston Bruins
Washington Capitals ousted the New York Rangers in the playoffs last season and
probably would have rather faced them in the first round. Instead, they
flip-flopped with Ottawa on the last day of the regular season and now have to
head to face the defending champs.
no mistakes about it: Washington backed their way into the playoffs and will
are without top goaltender Tomas Vokoun. They’re not the Capitals we’ve known
and loved over the last couple of seasons. Beyond that, they’ve lacked
leadership, guts and heart this season, which are necessary constituents in a
deep playoff run.
Bruins won nine of 12 to end the year and with goaltender Tim Thomas on his
game, they’re not going to face much push back from the Caps.
Pick: Bruins in
No. 6 New Jersey
Devils vs. No. 3 Florida Panthers
is going to expect much from the Florida Panthers come playoff time and it’s
easy to see why. They’ve been a surprise team this season and are returning to
the playoffs for the first time since 2000 but nobody feels threatened. They
lost eight of their final 10 games and barely hung on to their No. 3 seed.
in the fact that the Panthers are having issues in net right now with Jose
Theodore slumping and Scott Clemmensen playing well, and you’d be hard pressed
to find a team heading into the playoffs in worse shape.
Devils enter the postseason on a six-game winning streak and goaltender Martin
Brodeur is on a roll. He’s 16-9-2 since the All-Star break with a 2.05 GAA. He’s
got a career 2.03 GAA against the Panthers.
21 home wins are the second-fewest of the eight East playoff teams while the
Devils were a healthy 24-15-2 on the road this year. Overall, there’s no reason
to think that Florida wins this series.
Pick: Devils in
Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins
Philadelphia Flyers play pretty well in this series and have won six of their
last nine visits to Pittsburgh but it’s still hard to see them winning this
series. Both teams are heavy on the offense but the main difference comes in
Bryzgalov gave up 10 goals in his final three starts, which isn’t exactly
encouraging. If he can play halfway decent, the Flyers will have a good chance
to win but the problem is that nobody – including the Flyers – don’t trust him.
There’s just a certain confidence that Marc-Andre Fleury gives the Penguins in
net that Bryzgalov doesn’t provide for the Flyers. The Pens trust Fleury – even
though he has a career 2.82 GAA against Philadelphia; the Flyers hold their
breath when Bryzgalov is in net.
bad blood between these teams and it’s not going to be a quick series either
way but Pittsburgh does have the edge in a number of places. Even if you want
to suggest the matchup in net is equal, the Pens clearly have more experience.
The Flyers have relied upon several rookies this season (12 rookies played)
while almost the entire Pens roster has been there, done that.
the Pens are in better shape physically. Philly will be without James van
Riemsdyk, Danny Briere, Andrej Meszaros and Nick Grossman at least for the
start of the series. That’s on top of stalwart defenseman Chris Pronger being
out for the year.
has the x-factor of being to impose their physical will on skill opponents like
Pittsburgh but that’s likely not enough here. The Pens are just a nose ahead
but that’s going to be enough.
Pick: Penguins In Six