2018 NHL Playoff Opening Round Series Picks and Best Bets
The NHL playoffs get underway this Wednesday and Thursday with Game 1 of eight best-of-seven series in the opening round. Also known as the NHL Conference Quarterfinals, there are some great betting matchups on the board at BetOnline.
With eight different opening round series on the board at BetOnline, the key to making money on a series price bet for these best-of-seven matchups is to find the ones that offer the best value in the posted odds. The following three series would be at the top of my list.
Toronto Maple Leafs (+135) vs. Boston Bruins (-155)
The Maple Leafs finished in third place in the Atlantic Division with 105 points at 48-26-7. They bring some momentum into this series with four wins in their last six games while scoring an average of 3.3 goals per game during this same span. Overall, Toronto was ranked third in the NHL in scoring behind James van Riemsdyk’s team-high 36 goals. Frederik Anderson got the majority of the starts in goal and his save percentage was .918 with a 2.81 goals-against average.
Boston was just one point behind Tampa Bay for the top seed in the Atlantic, and it did not help its cause with only one win in its last five games. This rough stretch includes a concerning 4-2 loss to Florida at home in its season finale as a prohibitive -312 favorite. The Bruins were ranked fourth in the NHL in goals allowed (2.6) behind Tuukka Rask, but in they still lost three of the four meetings against Toronto in the regular season.
Series Pick: Toronto in 7
San Jose Sharks (+105) vs. Anaheim Ducks (-125)
San Jose is the No. 3 seed in the Pacific Division with 100 total points this season. It had a shot at earning home ice in this series before losing five of its last six regular-season games. The Sharks' defense was shelled during this slide with a GAA of 3.8 as opposed to their season average of 2.8 goals allowed. Martin Jones is the team’s top goalie with a 2.55 GAA.
The Ducks finished the season on a strong note with a five-game winning streak as part of an 8-1-1 record over their last ten games. It is always good to come into the postseason on a hot note, especially when you have outscored your opponents a combined 17-8 in those five wins. Anaheim lost the season series to San Jose 3-1 with three of the games decided in a shootout.
Series Pick: San Jose in 6
Los Angeles Kings (+105) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (-125)
The Kings have had some great success in postseason play with Stanley Cup titles in 2012 and 2014, but they missed the playoffs two of the last three years with a first-round exit in 2016 squeezed in between. Los Angeles won four of its last six regular-season games to post a total of 98 points as the fourth seed in the Pacific. It comes into this series ranked No. 1 in the NHL in goals allowed behind veteran goalie Jonathan Quick.
Vegas has been the story of the year in the NHL as an expansion team. The Golden Knights won the Pacific Division title with a total of 109 points on a record of 51-24-7. Home ice is in their favor with a 29-10-2 mark at T-Mobile Arena this season. Balance is another strong point with a 3.3-goal scoring average complementing a GAA of 2.7. Lack of postseason experience has put some downward pressure on their series odds in this matchup. However, having veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes could be the great equalizer.
Series Pick: Vegas in 7