The Hurricanes made it a perfect 4-for-4 for wild card teams in the opening round last night, beating the Capitals 4-3 in double OT to finish off a 7-game upset of the defending champs.
Round 2’s got a tough act to follow when it comes to unpredictability and drama, but we’ll see what it has in store for us beginning tonight as the Blue Jackets, Bruins, Stars and Blues open their second-round series.
The Columbus/Boston matchup is particularly fascinating as it’s just the fourth time since 2000 that a team coming off a 4-game sweep has faced a team coming off a 7-game series win. It’s as stark a contrast as you can get between rest/rust and fatigue/momentum. In case you’re wondering, teams coming off sweeps have lost two of the three series openers in this situation, going 0-2 on the road.
There’s enough uncertainty about the board tonight that we aren’t placing any regular bets. One nice thing about posting picks for free is that you don’t have to force plays to keep your customers happy, and we’re not going to recommend any wagers that we don’t strongly believe in. However, if you’re interested in having some recreational action, we do have a suggestion and writeup below for a fun bet on Blue Jackets/Bruins Game 1.
Good luck and enjoy the games!
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.
As we said in the intro, it’s tough to know what to expect in this one. Columbus hasn’t played in more than a week after sweeping the Lightning in Round 1, while the Bruins are just two days removed from a Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs. Will the Blue Jackets be rusty after the long layoff, or will they pick up where they left off playing with tons of confidence? Will the Bruins let down emotionally after coming back from down 3-2 in their series against Toronto, or will they come out flying now that they’re no longer playing under the pressure of potential elimination?
The safest bet here, it seems to us, is that we’ll see a bit more offense than you might expect from these squads. Well, more than you might expect from Boston right now, at least, considering that the Bruins have scored 3 non-empty net goals or less in seven of their last nine. Columbus certainly went into its break with plenty of momentum offensively, scoring at least 4 goals in 9 of its last 12 outings.
So why might we see more offense tonight?
One reason might be Sergei Bobrovsky, who was just 9-8 with a 2.92 goals-against average in his 17 starts with 3 or more days rest this year. Compare that to his 5-1, 1.84 numbers on 0 days rest, and it seems like Bob’s game suffers a bit when he isn’t playing as much. Admittedly, these splits aren’t as drastic over his entire career, but Bobrovsky’s stats on 3+ days rest are still collectively worse than they are in other situations.
Another reason is the Bruins’ potential for bringing less intensity to the rink tonight, particularly in their end of the rink. We saw that early in their series against Toronto, when Boston was flat in Game 1 (allowing 3 goals plus a late empty netter) and then again in Game 3 (allowing 3 goals before the end of the second period). When things got serious late in the series, Boston buckled down to allow just 5 goals in the last 3 games, one reason we’re working with a lower total tonight.
That said, this is still a playoff game, and we should see the intensity ramp up as the game goes along. So rather than play the full game Over 5.5, we’ll take a shot on the First Period Over 1.5 at -104 odds instead. 3 of Columbus’ 4 games last round went Over 1.5 in the first period, while the Bruins went Over 1.5 in the first period in 5 of 7 games against Toronto. The first period has also been Columbus’ highest-scoring period on the road this year (1.12 goals per game) as well as the period in which they’ve allowed the most (0.91). None of these numbers are enough for us to pull the trigger on a full unit play, but if you’re looking for some recreational action to cheer for tonight, First Period Over 1.5 doesn’t look like a bad option at all.
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