It’s going to be tough to match the wild night that kicked off the playoffs on Wednesday, and one can only imagine just how focused the home teams are going to be now, after witnessing a total of three of their fellow higher-seeds lose their home ice advantages just hours ago. At the same time though, many of the favourites are still being offered at very steep prices, and the public’s love affair with these teams is not too likely to end anytime soon. Logically then, much of the value in most of the betting lines being offered should still be found with the underdogs, giving us every reason to continue taking strong looks at each one.
They may not go 4-0 again over the next 4 games, but the dogs this year are certainly not ‘rolling over’.
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Boston Bruins vs. Buffalo Sabres
While it may be true that the Bruins are offensively-challenged, this fact is certainly not due to a lack of effort. Incredibly, the Bruins have only been outshot once by an opponent in their last 21 games, and they have not put up less than 30 shots on goal in any of their last 12 games. Ryan Miller is certainly up to the challenge at the other end of the rink, but it seems like he will be tested often. The Sabres also only managed to outshoot the Bruins once in six meetings this season, and tie them once in another. With this kind of domination in puck-possession and offensive play from Boston, it should be tough to imagine Buffalo running away with this series.
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Montreal Canadiens vs. Washington Capitals
After posting two consecutive shutouts, the defensive play of the Canadiens fell way off the map during the last week of the season, causing them to nearly miss the playoffs entirely. If the Habs don’t sharpen up dramatically, then they will get steamrolled by Washington. The Capitals have been waiting for the playoffs to start ever since they virtually clinched their division, about halfway through the season (pretty much). The amount of excitement and energy that they will bring to this game could be absolutely overwhelming, as both fans and players in Washington can sense that this truly is “their year”. Montreal better find that extra gear that allowed them to beat Washington twice this season in a hurry.
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Los Angeles Kings vs. Vancouver Canucks
The Kings’ 8-3 dismantling of the Canucks on April 1st is probably still fresh in the memories of both of these clubs, and both teams here will certainly try to use it as motivation, but there is little doubt that the pressure to perform in both this game and the series has to lie squarely on the Canucks, and in particular, on Roberto Luongo. The Canucks are a very popular pick to go deep this year, and so, the betting lines will tend to suggest that they are also a significantly better team than the LA Kings, but the immense pressure to perform and the numerous minor injuries to their defensive core will likely be overlooked by the betting public, thus equating to plenty of good value with the underdog Kings in this series. Los Angeles has plenty of youthful enthusiasm and talent to potentially spoil the Canucks’ run to the cup, regardless of the betting odds, but once the betting odds are factored in, they need only win 2 or 3 games to make them a very profitable side to back.
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