By: Ryan Gilbert:
NHL Eastern Conference Odds: Who Will Be the Beast Out of the East? full of underdogs worth betting on in their quarterfinal series.
There have been a few surprising upsets already in the NHL postseason, and the official playoffs aren’t even underway yet. The Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks both won their play-in series to qualify for the playoffs, knocking off the No. 5 seed in each conference.
Now, with the playoffs beginning, there are more underdogs to keep an eye on. We’ll start in the Eastern Conference.
NHL Eastern Conference Odds: Do the Flyers Stay Hot?
Here is a quick breakdown of each of the four Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
No. 1 Philadelphia Flyers (-240) vs. No. 8 Montreal Canadiens (+195)
The Flyers and Canadiens both surprised some people in the first round. The Flyers went undefeated with an impressive showing in the round-robin tournament, and the Canadiens shocked the Penguins by beating them in four games. Now they meet up in the first round of the playoffs.
The Flyers should stay hot and take care of business as the top seed, but anything is possible with Carey Price in net for the Canadiens.
The Canadiens are the biggest underdog in the Eastern Conference, and that’s not too surprising. The other series feature two teams closer together while the Flyers should win this one.
Chance of an upset on 1-10 scale: 2 (Low, but possible)
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning (-225) vs. No. 7 Columbus Blue Jackets (+185)
Tampa Bay and Columbus meet again in the first round of the playoffs after the Blue Jackets swept the then top-seeded Lightning just last year. It was a rude awakening for the Lightning and a statement series by the Blue Jackets.
The Lightning don’t look all too different from last year, but they have that experience under their belt and won’t get caught off guard again. On the other hand, the Blue Jackets lost a few key pieces from their playoff run (Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene), but are still making things happen.
The Lightning went 2-1-0 in the round-robin tournament, only losing to the Flyers. The Blue Jackets came in as the No. 9 seed against the No. 8 seed Toronto Maple Leafs, but it felt like a bigger gap than that. The Maple Leafs had a lot more talent, but John Tortorella coached the Blue Jackets to a win.
Now the Blue Jackets are in a similar position against the Lightning. Tampa Bay has a stronger goalie and more depth, however, which could pose some problems for Columbus.
This is going to be a great series, and it wouldn’t shock me if the Blue Jackets beat the Lightning again, especially if Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman can’t play.
Chance of an upset on 1-10 scale: 4 (Medium)
NHL Eastern Conference Odds: Beware the President’s Trophy First-Ever 4-Seed
No. 3 Washington Capitals (-145) vs. No. 6 New York Islanders (+120)
This should be another good series in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals went winless in their first two round-robin games before narrowly beating the Boston Bruins to win the No. 3 seed. On the other hand, the Islanders looked pretty good in a four-game series win against the Florida Panthers.
The Islanders are hot after a more intense play-in round and the Capitals a bit cooler after three lackluster games. Each team won two games during their four-game series in the regular season, and it should be another close series in the playoffs.
The Capitals have the experience, but the Islanders may have the upper hand due to coaching. Barry Trotz led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018, and he has the Islanders playing a very strong defensive game that is tough to play against.
If the Islanders can frustrate the Capitals before Washington can get things going, I could see the Islanders taking this one.
Chance of an upset on 1-10 scale: 5 (Possible)
No. 4 Boston Bruins (-160) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (+135)
The line for this series confuses me. The Hurricanes just swept the New York Rangers and looked pretty darn good in doing so. The Bruins are at the other end of the spectrum after losing all three of their round-robin games with very little going for them.
This series should be a lot closer to a pick ‘em than it is. Sure, the Bruins were the best team in the regular season, but they have flopped so far in Toronto. The Hurricanes are on fire and look like a team ready to make some noise.
Chance of an upset on 1-10 scale: 7 (Likely)
*Editor’s Note: Bang the Bruins