Well, as we saw yesterday with the Columbus/Tampa Bay game, anything can happen come playoff time. The Blue Jackets took down the Lightning yesterday 4-3 after being down 3-0 at first intermission. We’ll see if that upset has given today’s underdogs a little extra motivation as well.
The second day of the NHL Playoffs sees the six remaining teams yet to play kick off their pursuit for the Stanley Cup.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins Game 1
Money Line: Toronto+125/Boston-145
Puck Line: Toronto-205/Boston+172
These two teams met last year in the first round of the playoffs as well, with Boston winning it in seven games. The Bruins won the season series this year 3-1. The Maple Leafs have a slight advantage on offense 3.49 goals per game to Boston’s 3.13. Defensively though, Boston has a big advantage, only allowing 2.59 goals per game (third best) compared to the Maple Leafs 3.04 (20th). In last year’s series, the Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for 30 points. The Bruins at home should take Game 1 with that great defense and above average offense.
Toronto 1 – Boston 3
Carolina Hurricanes vs Washington Capitals Game 1
Money Line: Carolina+124/Washington-144
Puck Line: Carolina-215/Washington+180
The defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals open their quest for a repeat against a defensively minded Hurricanes team. Alex Ovechkin again scored 50+ goals this season (51), the eighth time he has done so. Caps goalie Braden Holtby is heating up at the right time, going 5-0 to finish the season, with a 1.60 GAA and a .947 save percentage in those five games. The Capitals swept the season series, but they know not to take any team lightly, especially come playoff time. The Caps take Game 1, but Carolina keeps it close throughout, showing that this series will be anything but a walk for the defending champs.
Carolina 2 – Washington 4
Colorado Avalanche vs Calgary Flames Game 1
Money Line: Colorado+158/Calgary-183
Puck Line: Colorado-160/Calgary+140
The Avalanche get a much-needed boost today with the return of Mikko Rantanen. Rantanen has been one of the best players this season for the Avs, and any chance of an upset over the top team in the Western Conference relies on him being in the lineup. Calgary is the second-best scoring team in the league, and the ninth-best in goals allowed. One of the biggest challenges for the Avs tonight will be on faceoffs, which they have only won 48.1 percent of the time this season (26th), and are going up against a Flames team that is third-best in the NHL (52.4 percent). The Avs top line will have to carry them in order to pull this series upset.
Colorado 2 – Calgary 5