For all of the people kicking and screaming about the surprises in the
Western Conference quarterfinals, they might want to notice that the No. 2,
No. 3 and No. 4 seeds all advanced. Sure, it’s surprising to hear that vaunted
teams like the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks were
sent packing, but that’s the old guard. The new guard includes the St. Louis
Blues, who are favored to win the West, Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, and Los Angeles Kings.
As we get ready for the second round of the playoffs to begin, let's consider the NHL matchups in the Western Conference, find where the NHL betting values lie and choose our NHL picks for each series.
Plus, don't forget to check out our preview of the Eastern Conference semis.
No. 8 Los Angeles
Kings vs. No. 2 St. Louis Blues
NHL Betting Series Price: Blues -170
There were plenty of people that bet against the St.
Louis Blues in Round 1 – especially given their late season slump – but they
had very little problems with the San Jose Sharks. Aside from falling asleep at
the wheel with a couple of late leads, they were never really threatened by the
What the Blues showed us in the first round is what
they’ve shown us all season long: they’re fast, physical and very clean
defensively. They stymie opponents at their end, beat the hell out of them in
neutral ice and pressure on on the offensive end.
But interestingly enough, they could face a very
difficult challenge in Round 2 from the Los Angeles Kings.
While the Kings surprised some people in shocking the
top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in five games, the bigger shock might be that they
handled a team that was as high scoring as the Canucks. If I was to picture the
perfect series for the Kings, it would be a series where their opponent was a
low scoring defensive team like St. Louis.
The Kings aren’t going to score many goals at any point
in these playoffs but they showed us in Round 1 that they’re capable of scoring
just enough. Now they’re going to face a carbon copy of themselves in St.
Louis, a defensive-minded team that’s low scoring and also relies on
stellar goaltending. But this is right up the Kings alley.
The Kings won three of four meetings in the regular
season and they weren't playing as well as they are now. Is it really a stretch to think that the winning streak will continue?
St. Louis dominated San Jose in the regular season, and
Phoenix dominated Chicago in regular season, and both those streaks continued in the playoffs.
So expect this to as well.
The Kings have more veterans that have done it before.
Make them your NHL pick to advance into the conference final.
Pick: Kings in Six
No. 4 Nashville
Predators vs. No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes
NHL Betting Series Price: Predators -165
These two teams split their regular season meetings 2-2
with the road team winning each time. Does that mean that home-ice advantage
won’t be much of a factor? The NHL odds
makers clearly feel that way as the Predators, who don’t have home-ice
advantage, are a noticeably-sized favorite in this series.
Both teams are riding stellar goaltenders and quality
defense and they seem to get the offensive job done with smoke and mirrors.
Can anyone beat Mike Smith? The Coyotes netminder made
229 saves in his six game series with Chicago, who scored only 12 goals. But
the same might be said for Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, who had a 1.81
goals against average and a .944 save percentage while stopping 102 of the Red
Wings last 106 shots.
The main difference in this series will be experience.
The Predators advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season and
they’ll have less of a “just happy to be here” feeling about them. Meanwhile, the
Coyotes franchise is coming off their first playoff series win since 1987.
Shane Done was only 10-years-old at the time, and the American President was
Ronald Reagan. Without a doubt, this is new territory for them. The Predators have a little more experience, a little
more depth and a little more talent. That’s going to be the slight difference.
Pick: Predators in Six