What the hell happened over the last two weeks in the NHL?!?! I don’t know any bettor that had a profitable streak in hockey in the first round of the playoffs. Out of the 8 series, I picked 2 correctly – that’s 2-6. No Bueno. But on a positive note, I hope you believe in the Law of Averages because I’m back on the horse and if that beautiful law holds true – I’m sweeping the second round. So let’s dive in – here comes a 4-0 run on series picks to fatten up your wallet:
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Boston Bruins
I expected the Bruins and Leafs to go to 6 or 7 games, and this was the first ticket I was able to cash – by taking Boston. On the other hand, the Blue Jackets pulled off the biggest upset in hockey history, probably. Columbus smoked the Lightning in 4 games, sending the President’s Trophy winners to hit the golf course a few weeks early. The fact that John Torts and co. pulled off this upset makes me have second thoughts about this series. Boston will have home ice here, and I think that will make the difference in this series. Along with that, I doubt Columbus goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky has a follow-up performance like he did in the first round. Take Boston in this series at -150. Columbus is +130.
Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Islanders
This is a matchup I’m really looking forward to. I mentioned in my 1st round preview that if Carolina squeaked by the Caps, they were my dark horse team. They open up their second-round series with the Islanders, in New York. The Islanders swept the Penguins on the backs of Robin Lehner (goalie) and Jordan Eberle (4 goals). This matchup does intrigue me, as I’m not sure the Canes will have enough offensive firepower to defeat Lehner. Justin Williams, Sebastian Aho, and Teuvo Teravainen proved me wrong in the opening round and their home ice advance is huge down in Raleigh. Similarly to Carolina, the Islanders are a defensive-first team as their offense only ranked 22nd overall in goals scored during the regular season. I give the edge to the Islanders in this matchup, take them at -124. With the superior coaching of Barry Trotz, they will make quick work of the Canes in 5 games. The Hurricanes at +105 in this series.
Dallas Stars vs St. Louis Blues
I loved the Stars last series, that was one of the two picks what I made correctly. That underdog ticket cashed +155 – so a solid payday. You can expect a lot of unders to hit in this series. It’s a couple of Central Division teams going head-to-head and both of their strengths are in defense/goaltending. The Blues have rookie, Jordan Binnington in net and he allowed an average of 2.67 goals per contest, stopping 157 shots out of 173 faced. That is good enough for a .907 save percentage. Dallas’ man in the twine will be Ben Bishop, who only let 12 shots through on 206 shots faced – a .942 save percentage. That is some truly elite goaltending by these two and I think it will continue in this series. Offensively, I give the overall edge to the Blues in this showdown. I’m picking the Dallas Stars to rattle the rookie and eventually close this series out in 6 games, in Dallas. Dallas is +145, St. Louis is -165.
Colorado Avalanche vs San Jose Sharks
The Avs were able to knock off my Stanley Cup runner-up pick, in the Calgary Flames in the first round. I said that I didn’t think that Colorado was deep enough to hang with the Flames – and to be honest I was right. It was the Avs top line, led by stud forward, Nathan MacKinnon who was able to skate circles around Calgary. The Sharks were able to slip by Vegas after a controversial call late in the game that opened the door for a 4-goal 3rd period and an eventual OT winner Barclay Goodrow. This series will be interesting – it seems like old guys vs young guys. I 100% give the goaltending edge to the Avs if Philipp Grubauer continues to shut teams down as he did in the first round. As for the Sharks, I think Martin Jones still isn’t good. Jones did ball out in game six of the first round, stopping 58 of 59 shots. I doubt he can replicate that performance – even the NBC Sports crew mentioned that was the best game he’s ever played. Ultimately though, I think the Sharks will take this series in 7 games. I do love that they are mature and physical – plus they want to get one last shot at a Cup for “Jumbo Joe” Thornton. This series is -135/+115 in favor of San Jose.