After an interesting trial run with the NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers, everything now returns to normal as the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs start on Tuesday. One should expect to see some intense hockey and some shocking upsets along the way but there is always value to be found if one digs deep enough through the betting cards.
Without further ado, let’s breakdown the Stanley Cup Playoff matchups for Tuesday:
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Pick: Tampa Bay 1P -0.5 (+142)
This series possesses a bit of déjà vu since this was the exact same matchup as last year. In that series, Tampa committed one of the biggest collapses in the history of the sport by getting swept after possessing the best record in the regular season. As a result, I expect the Lightning to be extremely motivated for this series and I think that they will get out to a fast start in game one on Tuesday. Columbus has a solid defense but a very underwhelming offense and I think that Tampa Bay’s speed will overwhelm Columbus in the first period before the Blue Jackets can make some adjustments during the first intermission.
Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars
Pick: Calgary ML (+100)
This line does not make any sense to me since Dallas has looked like a very underwhelming hockey team lately while Calgary thoroughly dominated Winnipeg in the qualifying round. The Flames have a lot of depth and goalscoring ability on the roster and the Stars have an issue when it comes to putting pucks in the net. At the same time, Talbot was amazing against Winnipeg so one can argue that the Flames enter this series with the hotter goalie. As a result, I think that the Flames will do enough offensively to win game one of this series.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins
Pick: Carolina ML (+124)
Similarly to the Columbus and Tampa Bay series, this matchup will be a rematch of a series that occurred last season. Although Boston swept Carolina in that series, Carolina enters this game in significantly better form as it swept New York in the qualifying round while Boston went winless in the Round Robin format. Plus, the Hurricanes should be very motivated to get revenge on the Bruins for embarrassing them last season so I think that Carolina is a live dog in this matchup.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Pick: Over 6.5 goals (+105)
Even though this total seems insanely high at first glance, I think that it is warranted as both teams have very leaky defenses while also possessing extremely potent offenses. Chicago managed to upset Edmonton in the qualifying round but three of the four games in that series totaled at least seven goals so it has struggled defensively. At the same time, each of Vegas’ three games in the Round Robin format totaled at least seven goals so I expect both teams to score at least three goals in this contest.