The Phive - NHL Playoffs Edition
Updated: Aug 12
Welcome back to The Phive! We had a nice 2-1 day yesterday, bringing us to 29-20 on the season.
Today is going to look a little bit different. I'm going to take a break from putting together my best bets for the day and instead look at each of the eight first-round series coming up in the NHL playoffs. I will be placing my prediction for the series, as well as my favorite series prop. Let's win some money.
1 Philadelphia Flyers vs 8 Montreal Canadiens
I cannot believe that I'm writing about the Philadelphia Flyers as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. If you had that as a future, good on you. You just won yourself a lot of money. I don't think there is a person in the hockey world that expected this to be a matchup when the playoffs began, yet here we are. The fourth-best team vs the 12th-best team when the bubble began.
The Canadiens wore down the explosive offense of the Penguins. They ground out win after win with solid defensive and goalie play on their way to a shocking 3-1 victory. But was it really all that shocking? The Penguins were ice cold coming into the qualifying round, and that trend continued as they played sloppy game after sloppy game.
The problem for Montreal is that the Flyers also play great defense and right now have the hottest goalie in the NHL. The Canadiens can struggle to score at times, and against this Flyers team, they simply don't have enough firepower to break through and get enough goals to keep up with the Flyers' offense. The Flyers are going to take this one with no problem.
BET: Philadelphia Flyers (-240)
PROPS: Flyers in 5 (+335)
2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs 7 Columbus Blue Jackets
There's no surprise here. In fact, there's no real take. The Lightning are going to win this series. They are going to get the taste of last season out of their mouth, and they're going to make a serious push at the conference crown.
The Blue Jackets don't quit and managed to have an impressive game five after a disastrous game four against the Maple Leafs. However, that series was absolutely exhausting and the Lightning only had to play three games, two of which were pretty uneventful. Tampa Bay is arguably the best team in the conference, and they will prove that in this series. I wouldn't be surprised if this ends in a sweep.
BET: Tampa Bay Lightning (-220)
PROP BET: Series under 5.5 games (+120)
3 Washington Capitals vs 6 New York Islanders
The Capitals snuck by the Bruins in the final round-robin game and will now be rewarded with an opening-round series against the New York Islanders. The Capitals obviously struggled in their first three games, though really only looked bad in their game against the Flyers. They showed some life in their overtime loss to the Lightning, and therefore, it seems like they are going to be a popular pick here.
But I like this Islanders team a lot. They looked fantastic in their qualifying series, and I expect that momentum to carry over into this series against the Capitals. While they don't score at the same pace as Washington, defensively they are outstanding, and I like them to make life for the Capitals miserable throughout the series. When they get a lead, they tend to be okay just playing it safe and holding onto the lead. It's not flashy, but it's reliable. This strategy may not work great in this series, as the Capitals will be putting goals on the board, but it will present a lot of opportunities for them to score in transition when the Caps have all their eggs in the offensive basket.
I'm taking the upset here.
BET: New York Islanders (+150)
PROP BET: Series over 5.5 (-167)
4 Boston Bruins vs 5 Carolina Hurricanes
Who saw this one coming? I'll wait. The Boston Bruins looked terrible in their three round-robin games and now have been demoted to the four-seed where they will have to take on the team that they swept in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. Is this good for their psyche or bad? We will have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes demolished the New York Rangers, sweeping them in dominant fashion, and never letting the Rangers ever feel like they were in a game. Were they able to dominate because they were very good or just because the Rangers weren't? It's hard to say. But what is pretty easy to see is that the Hurricanes are currently the better team and are playing with much more confidence than the Bruins.
The Bruins ended up with the most points in the regular season, but this isn't the regular season. This is the bubble. And craziness is going to continue as the postseason moves along.
BET: Carolina Hurricanes (+135)
PROP BET: Over 5.5 games (-175)
1 Vegas Golden Knights vs 8 Chicago Blackhawks
Take the over. I don't care. Take it and run. Every game in this series is going over. 6.5. Take the over. 7.5. Take the over. The Blackhawks come into this series with one of the most surprising runs in the postseason, and there is no reason to start doubting them now. Wait what? But they're playing Vegas. I know, and I actually think this is the best matchup that the Blackhawks could have hoped for. Vegas likes to score. The Blackhawks also like to score. Vegas has a better defense without a doubt, but every defenseman on the Blackhawks team can put the puck in the back of the net.
I'm not saying that the Blackhawks are going to pull this one out, though I would say if you were going to bet this series line for the Knights, it might not be the worst idea to bet it after game one in case the Blackhawks steal it. This would increase the Knights' number. And if you miss it, the number is so big anyway, you would have to risk a lot to win a little. A lot of people are going to think this one is a no-brainer. The Knights are so much better of a team. Right now, I am not so sure about that.
BET: Vegas Golden Knights (-250). Wait until after game 1 in case Chicago pulls out a game 1 W.
PROP BET: Series over 5.5 games (-139)
2 Colorado Avalanche vs 7 Arizona Coyotes
The Avs may have lucked out by losing an overtime thriller to the Knights and dropping down to the second seed. The Coyotes played incredibly well against the Predators, but they're not nearly as high-powered as the Blackhawks. Granted, they are much better on the defensive side of things, but this really does work against Colorado.
Colorado's offense is the least of their concerns, but they will need to do their best to stay at even strength if they want to pull out a series win and make a deep run in the postseason. Nathan MacKinnon had two incredibly stupid penalties in the loss to the Golden Knights, and it certainly didn't help his team on their quest for the top seed. They also gave up a penalty shot in that game. Stop with the dumb mistakes.
The Avalanche are going to cruise through this series. I have no doubt about that. But they need to start taking things a little more seriously and not take dumb penalties, or they're going to be sent packing sooner than they hoped.
BET: Colorado Avalanche (-250)
PROP BET: Series under 5.5 games (+104)
3 Dallas Stars vs 6 Calgary Flames
The Stars got a miracle goal late in their final round-robin game, before knocking off the Blues in a shootout to steal the third seed. I think this is going to prove monumental in their chances to move onto the second round and possibly beyond.
The Flames are a much lesser opponent than the Canucks, and moved past the Winnipeg Jets primarily because the Jets' goalkeeping was atrocious. Getting a win in the last round-robin game will do a lot to boost this team's confidence and should help them advance past the Flames without a problem. Out of all the teams who played in the round-robin, I'd argue that the Stars actually got the most favorable matchup out of the bunch.
BET: Dallas Stars (-136)
PROP BET: Stars in 6 (+525)
4 St Louis Blues vs 5 Vancouver Canucks
This is the hardest series to pick for me. Why? Because coming into this, I was ready to take the Canucks no matter who they were playing. They benefit from all the upsets by moving up to the five seed, and how are they rewarded? They get the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Brutal.
But the Blues don't look like the team they were in the regular season, and I'm almost inclined to throw out everything that happened prior to the bubble. There won't be any home-ice advantage, and right now the Canucks have three wins under their belt while the Blues have zero. That could have a serious impact on their psyche in this series. If St Louis falls behind 1-0, will they be able to bounce back or will they start thinking the bubble isn't for them?
I'm not sure what to expect here, so I'll take the better price, and I'll assume we're going to see seven games.
BET: Vancouver Canucks (+165)
PROP BET: Series over 6.5 games (+205)