The Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin on Wednesday evening and the online sportsbooks have finally got the odds up so I can start betting on which team will win each first round series. I have done very well with series betting in the NHL playoffs in the past and I expect to do the same this year. Below you will find my predictions for each first round series with the amount of units (between 1 and 5) I will be wagering.
(1) New York Rangers vs (8) Ottawa Senators
The Rangers only won 1 of the 4 games between these teams in the regular season, but once the playoffs begin the regular season doesn’t matter. I expect the Rangers depth and overall team defense to shut down the Senators, but the high end talent of the Sens (Spezza, Karlsson, Alfredsson) will steal a few games. In the end the Rangers should win this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go 7.
Play: Rangers -220 (5Dimes.eu) – 2 units
(2) Boston Bruins vs (7) Washington Capitals
The Bruins are the worst team the Capitals could have drawn in the first round. Zdeno Chara will be able to shutdown the Ovechkin/Backstrom tandem and with Semin and Green not having good years the offense will be a problem for the Caps in this series. The Bruins share the scoring among many forwards and I expect them to score often against Braden Holtby who will be in goal for the Caps. This series shouldn’t go the distance.
Play: Bruins -210 (5Dimes.eu) – 2 units
(3) Florida Panthers vs (6) New Jersey Devils
The Devils finish in 6th in the East, but get in my opinion the worst team in the playoffs in the Florida Panthers. Florida stumbled into the playoffs with only 2 wins in their last 10 games and I don’t expect them to get more than 2 wins in this first round match up.
Play: Devils -190 (SportsInteraction.com) – 5 units
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (5) Philadelphia Flyers
This is the series that everyone is talking about. The Pens and Flyers hate each other and are two teams who many consider Stanley Cup contenders. I think this series could go long and a few bounces will decide the winner one way or another. For that reason I like the Flyers as a fairly big underdog in this one. I also expect Jagr to step up and lead by example in this series.
Play: Flyers +175 (5Dimes.eu) – 1 unit
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs (8) Los Angeles Kings
The Canucks have good news with Daniel Sedin likely to get back into the lineup in this series. Even without Daniel though the ‘Nucks should be able to handle the Kings. LA started to get some scoring in the past 20 games, but they will have to keep it up because the Canucks will definitely find a way to score goals. I don’t expect LA to win many games while scoring only once or twice and for that reason the Canucks should win this series.
Play: Canucks -185 (5Dimes.eu) – 1 unit
(2) St. Louis Blues vs (7) San Jose Sharks
The Blues have stumbled down the stretch after being a picture of consistency throughout the middle of the season. Even though the Blues won all four meetings between these teams in the regular season I still like the Sharks in this one. San Jose has been to the Conference Finals in each of the last two season and that experience should get them past a Blues team that has many young players. I expect this series to be a battle, but I like the line on the Sharks as the dogs.
Play: Sharks +135 (Bet365.com) – 5 units
(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs (6) Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks are the 6th seed, but the did finish with 4 more points than the Coyotes and head into this series as the favourites. Toews is expected to be back in the lineup and as long as the Blackhawks come out ready to play from the get-go they should win this series and have a serious shot at the Stanley Cup. Last year it took the Blackhawks 3 losses in the first round to wake up against the Canucks, but I don’t expect the same mistake this year. Mike Smith and Corey Crawford are the wild cards and Smith playing amazingly (like he did to finish the season) and Crawford dropping the ball for Chicago is the only way I see the Coyotes winning this one.
Play: Blackhawks -125 (5Dimes.eu) – 5 units
(4) Nashville Predators vs (5) Detroit Red Wings
The Preds have built a team that is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this season. The Red Wings are a very tough first round opponent, but I like Weber and Suter to shutdown Datsyuk and Franzen, which will leave much of the offensive responsibility to Zetterberg who hasn’t had that great of a year by his high standards. The Preds share the scoring up front and I expect Radulov to have a big impact on this series, while Mike Fisher will also perform very well up against Datsyuk.
Play: Predators -106 (5Dimes.eu) – 3 units
I am expecting a profitable 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 5Dimes.eu usually has the best odds on NHL games, but Sports Interaction is another great sportsbook, especially for Canadians. If you sign up at Sports Interaction don’t enter a Sports Interaction refer a friend code if you want to get the 100% matching bonus up to $125.