Dan Favale | Thu 26/04/2018 - 17:16 EDT

Predictions for Every NHL Second-Round Playoff Series

Predictions for Every NHL Second-Round Playoff Series
Take a break from the aftermath of the 2018 NFL draft. Remove yourself, if only for a minute or two, from the push and pull of the 2018 NBA playoffs. Because, after all, the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us, and the NHL has a super-intriguing four-series slate beckoning to us. If you're not familiar with the hockey landscape or just find yourself needing some fresh perspective, you're in luck. We have picks for each best of seven set, and we're anxious to deliver them straight to you.

Series odds for Round 2 of the NHL playoffs come via TopBet and are accurate as of Thursday, April 26. Be sure to continue rechecking these lines as every best-of-seven set gets deeper into competition. Sportsbooks will shift the numbers as the series score changes after every game.

Pittsburgh Penguins (-125) vs. Washington Capitals (-105)

penguins

Some people are invariably going to get cute here. The Pittsburgh Penguins just wrapped up a six-game slugfest with the Philadelphia Flyers. Their offense has become at times too reliant on Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel—what else knew? The temptation to roll with the Washington Capitals will be there.

But the Capitals just went six games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and their offense, even at its best, isn’t nearly as potent as that of Pittsburgh.

The Penguins lead the NHL playoffs in goals per game, at just under 4.7. Despite being pushed to six games in the first round, they still own the second-highest goal differential of the postseason. The Capitals’ offense itself is no slouch, but they’ve survived a few squeakers. Their first-round series could have gone either way.

Mostly, though, when the Penguins’ offense is humming, they’re tough for anyone to stop. And entering Round 2, they have the two top points-talliers in the league, in both Crosby and Guentzel.

The Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins (-125) 

San Jose Sharks (+105) vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights (-135)

knights

Both the San Jose Sharks and Las Vegas Golden Knights flexed their postseason muscles in the first round.

The Sharks made quick work of the Anaheim Ducks, sending them home in four games. The Knights made comparably quick work of the Los Angeles Kings, surprising analysts and fans alike by jettisoning them in five contests.

That the Knights are favored here says a lot. It says a whole lot. They’re barely into their NHL existence and finished with a measly one-goal differential average through their five-outing victory lap in the first round. With by far and away the feeblest offense among remaining teams—Vegas ranks 14th out of 16 teams in goals per game—the Knights feel, on some level, like fool’s gold.

Really, however, they’re more than that. Their defense is that good. They allowed an average of under one goal per game against Kings, and their diamond between the posts, Marc-Andre Fleury, ranks first in the playoffs in save percentage.

This is not a stark departure from anything the Knights did during the regular season. They placed 12th or better in basically every defensive metric that matters. The Sharks enter with the highest goal differential of the postseason, but Knights are not the Ducks. They’re a different test entirely—far more balanced than even the Sharks themselves.

The Pick: Las Vegas Golden Knights (-135) 

Winnipeg Jets (+120) vs. Nashville Predators (-150)

jets

It makes sense why sportsbooks would favor the Nashville Predators over the Winnipeg Jets…in theory.

The Jets do not look spectacular in any one category. They’re solid. If this were tennis, they would be called “pushers.” They hold serve and return your best shots while forcing you to make a mistake. 

Limiting their own gaffes is their bag. They’re exceptional at conserving penalty minutes, they curtail shots on goal and they have a high save percentage relative to the league average. 

Hence why yours truly likes them for this series. The Predators sport the more illustrious offense, but they relinquish appreciably more shots on goal. That could end up being a huge difference in a series during which they’ll want for easy bunnies of their own at the other end.

Something else to consider: The Jets survived their first-round series in five games, while the Predators had a slightly closer call versus the Colorado Avalanche. That extra rest for the Jets helps tilt this series in their corner. 

The Pick: Winnipeg Jets (+120)

Boston Bruins (+115) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (-145)

lightning

Oddsmakers are giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a little too much credit.

Yes, they swept the New Jersey Devils in Round 1, but that’s nothing to write home about. The Devils were barely a playoff team this season. The Lightning should have swept—or at least gentlemen’s swept—them. And given that they allow more than their fair share of shots on goal and struggle to kill opposing power plays, the Boston Bruins have the capacity to make some noise here.

Then again, the Bruins just played the full seven games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. That series will have taken a large physical toll. They’re one of the best teams in the NHL on the power play, but the Lightning, despite their lackluster shorthanded defense, do a pretty good job of artificially capping those minutes.

Plus, the Lightning are even more dangerous when going on the assault. They owned the NHL’s third-best power play percentage during the regular season. They’re also wildly accurate. Their shooting percentage is the absolute highest in the league.

It helps, too, that the Lightning are going to have the best player in this series. Nikita Kucherov finished the year inside the top three of total points, and he’s fourth in that same category for the postseason…despite appearing in just five games. And to be clear: That’s unequivocally nuts.

Going chalk is boring. This will mark the third favorite we dap up in four tries. But we have no choice. According to Hockey-Reference’s Simple Rating System (SRS), which weights point differential and strength of schedule to rank teams, the Lightning grade out as the third-best squad in the entire NHL. The Bruins don’t even come close to touching that placement—something that should come back to bite them over the course of a best of seven series.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (-145)

*All stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference and are accurate leading into games on April 26 unless otherwise cited.

Category : Sports Betting News

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