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Stanley Cup Playoff Betting Tips For Wednesday, April 10

Jon and Derek

The 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs get underway Wednesday, and it’s hard to remember a more competitive and balanced field than the one we see in this year’s tournament.

If you take the Tampa Bay Lightning and their record-tying 62 wins out of the equation, the other seven teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs were separated by nine points or less during the regular season. It’s a pretty similar story out West, where Calgary won the conference easily but the second-place Sharks and eighth-seeded Avalanche were just 11 points apart.

Before we discuss the Cup playoffs any further, there’s a couple of things we wanted to get off our chest about the regular season.

First, wow, what a tough season that was to handicap! After generating +40 units of profit over the previous two years, for some reason this season was a grind to say the least. We netted +3.4 units on the 130 plays we posted to the site this season – still an ROI of around 2.5% but not a final number that we’re happy with. There will always be good years and bad years in this endeavour, and we’re hoping that +3.4 units is as bad as it gets.

Second, part of the reason that final season tally is so low is because we didn’t post to the site throughout the entire months of January and February. It hasn’t just been a tough season on the ice, it was also a grind in our personal lives as well. Each of us took on new jobs in the fall and the transitions were more difficult than anticipated. Unfortunately, that meant that posting picks and writeups to our website for free had to take a hiatus for a couple of months.

Third, we want you to know that that transition is behind us. We’re going to get back to the standard of regularly posting picks, stats, info and analysis that we became known for in 2016-17 and 2017-18. And this fall, we’re also going to get a lot more active on social media, and we’re going to sprinkle in some fun contests and promotions for those who choose to support the site.

Finally, we want to thank you for coming along for the ride. Whether you’re a long-time follower or just started tailing along, we appreciate all of you for taking the time to read our stuff and value our opinions and share your own with us.

ALRIGHT. Let’s get back to talking Stanley Cup playoffs!


Today’s Picks

Today’s picks are below, including a writeup on our Best Bet.

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Best Bet >>> Sharks Team Total Over 3 -125 (5Dimes)
Pick > Blues First Period Moneyline +101 (Pinnacle)
Pick > Stars +1.5 (series handicap) -135 (Pinnacle)

 


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Blue Jackets Logo VS Pick Lightning Logo
Game: Blue Jackets @ Lightning Opinion
Time: 7:00PM ET
Lean: Under 6.5 -110

Nobody’s giving the Blue Jackets much of a chance here, including the oddsmakers. In fact, Pinnacle’s price on Tampa (-390) is nearly double the juice of the next-biggest favourites, the Calgary Flames (-212 over Colorado). Even if you were to lay -1.5 on the series line (meaning Tampa Bay wins the series 4-2, 4-1 or 4-0), you’d still have to lay a price of nearly -200.

Even though Tampa outscored the Jackets 17-3 in three meetings en route to tying the NHL record for wins in a season, we’re not interested in backing the Lightning on the series moneyline or handicap at these prices. That’s because Columbus has a huge X-Factor that could sway this series: Sergei Bobrovsky. The Bolts lit him up for 8 goals in October, an month in which Bobrovsky struggled to a 2-5 record, 3.58 goals-against average and .882 save percentage. But they haven’t faced him since (Korpisalo started the last two meetings), and Bob’s playing a whole lot better now. He’s 18-8 since the start of February, posting a goals-against average of roughly 2.00 during that span. He’ll obviously be hard-pressed to match those numbers in this series, but it’s not a stretch to think Bobrovsky can steal a few victories if he gets into a zone.

The Under might be a surprisingly good bet in this series, especially if Bobrovsky does get hot. Columbus has held 7 of its last 8 opponents to 2 goals or less, and the Under is 11-2 in the Blue Jackets’ last 13 on the road (and 12-5 in their last 17 overall). Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has held the Blue Jackets to 2 goals or less in 6 of the last 7 meetings, excluding an empty netter. With the Lightning seeing totals of 6.5 or higher in 15 of its last 18 games, there’s usually plenty of wiggle room to cash an Under play in Tampa games.

Bet this game at Pinnacle – The best NHL odds online!

Penguins Logo VS Pick Islanders Logo
Game: Penguins @ Islanders Opinion
Time: 7:30PM ET
Lean: Under 5.5 -120

What do the Islanders get as a reward for their incredible turnaround season under Barry Trotz? How about a first-round matchup with the Penguins, whose only playoff series loss in the last three years came last spring against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Capitals? Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Murray and company are -148 favourites at Pinnacle to win this series despite not even having home-ice advantage.   

We don’t normally associate the Penguins with low-scoring hockey games, but that’s the way Pittsburgh’s been playing for the last couple of months. The Pens have allowed more than 3 goals in regulation time just once in their last 21 games (excluding empty netters), but they’ve also been contained to 3 goals or less in 9 of their last 11. The Under has cashed at a 7-1 clip in their last 8 on the road and is 14-3-1 in their last 18 overall.

The Islanders won’t need much convincing to keep a slow pace here. They were the best Under bet in the NHL all season (51-26-5), even though nearly half of their games had totals of 5.5 or lower. In the two meetings this year played on Long Island, where Barry Trotz can dictate line matchups better, these teams split a pair of low-scoring meetings that were both decided in shootouts (2-1 and 3-2).

We’re going to take a hard look at the Under in every game played in New York, including the opener (juice on Under 5.5 is currently -120).

 

Blues Logo VS Pick Jets Logo
Game: Blues @ Jets Pick
Time: 8:00PM ET
Pick: Blues First Period Moneyline +101

There wasn’t much separating these teams in the final regular-season standings. In fact, Winnipeg and St. Louis tied for second in the Central with 99 points, with the Jets earning the tiebreaker nod due to their two more victories. So why is this the only other series in which the lower seed is favoured (Pinnacle lists the Blues as -118 on the series moneyline)?

Well, these teams may have crossed the finish line with the same number of points, but there’s no comparing the two when it comes to recent form. Anchored by a sensational rookie season from Jordan Binnington, St. Louis has been on an absolute tear since the all-star break, earning at least a point in 27 of its last 33 games (23-6-4). Meanwhile, the Jets have actually been an under-.500 team since the break, going 16-15-3.

A huge key to the Blues’ second-half surge has been their ability to grab an early lead and play their style. Their full-season first period stats reflect that, with St. Louis trailing after 20 minutes just 19 times this season. They’ve held a lead through one period on 33 different occasions this season while outscoring their opponents 83-58 in the opening frame — and 30-21 on the road. That means the Blues are averaging 0.51 goals against per first period on the road all year. And this trend of strong first periods isn’t slowing down, either. They come into the playoffs having outscored their last 10 opponents by a combined margin of 16-5 in the first period.

Betting against the Jets in Winnipeg is always a risky proposition, but the Jets have been a bit more vulnerable at home of late. They’ve lost 8 of their last 13 in their own rink while allowing 3+ goals in 13 of their last 15. The way the Blues have defended in opening periods on the road this year, one goal from St. Louis in the opening 20 minutes may be enough to cash this wager. At plus odds, we’ll take our chances.

 

Stars Logo VS Pick Predators Logo
Game: Stars @ Predators Pick
Time: 9:30PM ET
Pick: Stars +1.5 (series handicap) -135

After Nashville finished the year winning 5 of its last 6 games and going 10-4-1 in its last 15, there aren’t many people asking “what’s wrong with the Preds?” But we’re not quite as convinced that the Predators are back to their former dominant selves after a midseason swoon that saw them go just 20-18-5 from November 12 to January 12.

The Predators simply aren’t scoring enough goals to put teams away with ease. Saturday’s season-ending 5-2 win over Chicago was just the second time since February 19 that the Preds beat an opposing goalie more than 3 times in regulation — and that Saturday ‘outburst’ saw Nashville score its 4th goal into an empty net before adding a 5th meaningless marker in the final minute. The offense has been especially anemic at home, where the Predators have scored 2 regulation time goals or less in 8 of their last 11 and 11 of 15 (excluding empty netters).

So it’s hard to see the Nashville attack getting untracked against a Dallas squad that allowed the second-fewest goals in the NHL this season. Granted, the Stars didn’t score many goals of their own either (third-fewest), and Nashville was third-best in goals against. But if the games in this series are as tight and low-scoring as these stats suggest, that absolutely favours the underdog.

Dallas closed the year winning 7 of its last 9 on the road, and the Stars were 2-0-1 in their 3 trips to Nashville this season. Nothing’s come easy for the Predators lately, and we don’t think this series will either. We’re grabbing the Stars +1.5 on the series handicap (meaning we’ll win this bet if Dallas wins the series or loses it 4-3), a bet that’s available at -135 odds at 5Dimes.

 

 

Good luck!