NHL Conference Semifinals Series Odds Plus Picks
In one of the wildest opening rounds in recent NHL playoff memory, the eight teams advancing to the four conference semifinal matchups continue their quest for this season’s Stanley Cup title. Online sportsbooks such as FanDuel and BetAmerica have set the series price odds for the next round of games.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
The Tampa Bay Lightning were the clear favorites to win the East this season after winning 62 games in the regular season. Four straight losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round end that notion.
The Washington Capitals won the Metro Division in defense of last year’s NHL title, but they were sent packing in a wild Game 7 double-overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
These two major upsets have set-up a Columbus vs. Boston Bruins matchup in one semifinal series with Boston set as a -160 favorite. The Blue Jackets’ odds to pull off another upset are set at +140.
I would give all the credit in the world to Columbus for pulling offs such a big upset, and there is no doubt that this team is playing with house money in this series. The Bruins needed the full seven games to get past Toronto. However, Boston now has the clear track to the NHL Finals, and I have the Bruins taking full advantage of the situation in the next round.
In the other semifinal series, Carolina will now face the New York Islanders, who only needed four games to get past Pittsburgh in the opening round. The series price for this matchup is still “off the board” but look for the Islanders to open as solid favorites.
The extended grind against the Capitals could take its toll on the Hurricanes as this series wears on. However, the main reason I am going with New York to win is the way that goalie Robin Lehner played against the Penguins with a save percentage of .956.
Western Conference Semifinals
The Calgary Flames were the top seed in the West, and they flamed out against the Colorado Avalanche in five games.
The Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets were the two best teams in the Central Division, but neither one made it out of the first round. Nashville was eliminated by Dallas in six games, and Winnipeg came up short against St. Louis in a 4-2 series loss.
The Avalanche will now face the San Jose Sharks in the next round. San Jose needed the full seven games to get past Vegas, and it has been opened as a -140 favorite to win this series as well.
Not to take anything away from Colorado’s inspired play in its first playoff series by eliminating the better team in just five games, the battle-tested Sharks showed a level of resiliency that should serve them well in the conference semifinals. It was not always pretty, but San Jose used its veteran experience to find ways to win games against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The other semifinal series between Dallas and St. Louis has the Blues set as -155 favorites. The Stars bounced back from a 2-1 series deficit with three-straight wins against the Predators to take that series. Ben Bishop stood tall in goal with a .945 save percentage.
St. Louis took the early 2-0 series lead with a pair of road wins against the Jets. After losing the next two games at home, the Blues ground out a couple of 3-2 wins to advance. I am going with St. Louis in this series as well. This team has been on a mission since the second half of the regular season after missing the playoffs last year for the first time in seven previous seasons.