The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight!
No more meaningless games or Arizona/Colorado matchups to make our eyes bleed. For the next 2 months, we know everyone will be giving it all they’ve got for a shot at the Cup.
(In case you missed it yesterday, we put out a post yesterday that featured several popular Twitter hockey cappers’ opinions on the best bets for the Stanley Cup futures odds as well as their favourite first-round series picks, along with reasons why.)
Opening night of the playoffs is always a bit tricky to predict. But it’s also hard not to get carried away by excitement and bet every game on the board.
For tonight and tomorrow, all we can really go on is head-to-head matchups between the teams this season and each team’s recent results, so we’ll go with the same format that we used during the regular season. As the playoffs move along, we’ll likely move into writeups for each game as situational and motivational angles will play more of a factor.
Hopefully these game breakdowns and opinions will help you with your bets tonight. Good luck!
Odds below are at the time we made the pick. Be sure to check out our live odds page for updated odds on today’s games.
The big wild card in Minnesota’s playoff hopes this year has to be Devan Dubnyk. Ordinarily one of the elite goalies in the NHL, Dubnyk has really struggled in the last month or so. In fact, he’s given up at least 2 goals in 12 straight appearances. That includes giving up 3 goals to both the Hurricanes and Avalanche in his last two starts. Until Dubnyk proves once again that he’s capable of closing the door, we think there’s value in betting the Wild over the total.
St. Louis has been the NHL’s hottest team down the stretch, going 15-2-2 in its last 19 games of the season. Improved offence has been a big part of that surge, with the Blues scoring 3+ goals in 13 of those 19 games – and 4+ in 9 of them. But after playing some airtight defence for a pretty long stretch, the Blues allowed 14 goals in their final 4 games – an average of 3.5 per contest.
Minnesota’s offence is firing right now as well, producing 4+ goals in 5 of its last 7 games (3+ in 6 of 7). And the Over is 18-7-1 in Minnesota’s last 26 home games and 33-15-3 in the Wild’s last 51 overall.
Bet this game at 5Dimes
Reasons to bet New York: The Rangers were the best road team in the NHL this season, going 27-12-2. Only 4 teams in the NHL had more victories at home than that. Montreal went 24-12-5 at home, but just 12-12-5 after starting the year with 10 straight wins at the Bell Centre.
Reasons to bet Montreal: The Canadiens have won 6 of the last 7 meetings between the teams, including all 3 this season. Montreal enters the playoffs having won 6 of its last 8 games and 9 of 14, while New York lost 10 of its final 15 regular-season contests.
Other things to know:
- Montreal beat New York 4-1 March 4 in New York, 3-2 in a shootout Feb. 21 in New York, and 5-4 Jan. 14 in Montreal
- Montreal has not allowed a PP goal in 8 games (13 shorthanded situations)
- New York has allowed 3+ goals in 5 of its last 7 games, and 4+ in 3 of 7
- New York has lost 4 straight road games
- Montreal has allowed 2 goals or less in 7 of its last 8 games (the 1 was a meaningless 4-2 loss to Tampa) and 8 of 10
- New York has scored 2 goals or less in 5 of the last 7 meetings
- Benn and Weber are probable for Montreal, but Emelin is out
- The Under is 18-7-6 in Montreal’s last 31 games and 7-3-2 in Montreal’s last 12 home games
- The Under is 9-4-2 in the last 15 meetings in Montreal
Reasons to bet Boston: The Bruins have allowed just 10 regulation time goals in their last 8 games and were 21-14-6 on the road this year. Ottawa has scored 2 goals or less in 8 of its last 10 games.
Reasons to bet Ottawa: The Senators swept the 4-game season series and have won 6 straight meetings and 8 of 9. Boston is thin on the blue line with Krug and Carlo both expected to miss tonight’s game.
Other things to know:
- Ottawa beat Boston 2-1 in a shootout April 6 in Boston, 3-2 March 21 in Boston, 4-2 March 6 in Ottawa and 3-1 Nov. 24 in Ottawa
- Boston has been favoured in the last 9 meetings, and Ottawa won 8 of them
- Ottawa is 22-11-8 at home this season
- Ottawa has scored 3+ goals in 7 of the last 9 meetings
- Boston has scored 2 goals or less in 6 straight meetings
- Boston’s power play is 5 for 12 in its last 6 games
- Ottawa allowed 1 goal or less in 3 of its last 4 games
- Boston has lost 5 straight games in Ottawa
- Karlsson and Methot are probable for Ottawa
- The Over is 10-3-2 in Boston’s last 15 road games
Reasons to bet Columbus: The Blue Jackets are 22-12-7 on the road this year and may have regained some confidence from a 3-2 road win over a motivated Leafs team in their regular season finale Sunday. The Penguins have given up 3 goals or more in 7 of their last 9 games.
Reasons to bet Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh is 31-6-4 at home, including a pair of wins over the Jackets, and get Malkin back in the lineup tonight. Columbus has scored 2 goals or less in 7 of its last 10 games.
Other things to know:
- Pittsburgh beat Columbus 4-1 April 4 in Pittsburgh and 4-3 in OT Feb. 3 in Pittsburgh
- Columbus beat Pittsburgh 2-1 in OT Feb. 17 in Columbus and 7-1 Dec. 22 in Columbus
- Columbus has allowed 3+ goals in 5 of its last 6 games
- Pittsburgh has scored 3+ goals in 5 of its last 6 games (the game they didn’t was a 3-2 loss Sunday in New York when Crosby didn’t dress)
- Columbus has outscored opponents in the first period on the road this year by a margin of 37-29
- Pittsburgh has been outscored by opponents in the first period at home this year by a margin of 35-29
- The Under is 6-1-1 in Columbus’ last 8 road games and 7-2-1 in its last 10 overall
There are 2 ways we can easily see the first period going tonight in Edmonton. First, the young Oilers are all jacked up in their franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2006. They blitz the Sharks net with tons of shots and jump out to a quick lead.
Or, the young Oilers are all jacked up in their franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2006. So they get a bit aggressive offensively, get caught on an odd-man rush going the other way, and the veteran, experienced Sharks take advantage.
Either way, we like the chances of some early offence in this one. Plus, recent Oilers games have had some fast starts, with an average of 2 first-period goals being scored in Edmonton’s last 10. The Oilers finished the year with 3+ goals in 6 straight games and 9 of their last 10, while the Sharks have potted at least 2 goals in 8 straight.
We like the value at a +127 return.
Reasons to bet San Jose: The Sharks have plenty of playoff experience, having reached the Cup final last year, while the Oilers franchise is playing its first playoff game since 2006. San Jose has won 14 of its last 20 games in Edmonton.
Reasons to bet Edmonton: The Oilers went 3-1-1 against the Sharks this year, winning the last 3 meetings. San Jose has lost 6 of its last 7 road games and could be without Couture and Thornton.
Other things to know:
- Edmonton beat San Jose 4-2 April 6 in San Jose, 3-2 March 30 in Edmonton and 4-1 Jan. 26 in San Jose
- San Jose beat Edmonton 5-3 Jan. 10 in Edmonton and 3-2 in OT Dec. 23 in San Jose
- Edmonton is 25-12-4 at home
- San Jose allowed 1 goal in 3 of its last 4 games (the one game they didn’t was against Edmonton, when they allowed 4)
- San Jose won 3 of its last 4 games after going 9 games without a regulation time win (1-8)
- Edmonton has won 8 of its last 9 games overall, and 9 straight at home
- Edmonton has scored 3+ goals in 6 straight games and 9 of its last 10
- San Jose has scored 2+ goals in 8 straight games
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