NHL playoff betting is so close. The big show is just a few days away and we still don’t have any set first round matchups. Bettors are going to have to wait until the weekend before they can start seeing series prices and lines, but that shouldn’t stop us from dreaming about the best first round matchup possibilities. Here are three first round matchups the world needs to see.
Hockey Playoff Lines – Los Angeles Kings v.s. San Jose Sharks
They’ve met in the playoffs three times before with each time being more of a classic than its predecessor. The chance of this matchup happening is high with the Kings and Sharks currently sitting in the 2nd and 3rd seeds in the Pacific Division. The Kings are known for their playoff history which include multiple Stanley Cup Championships. The Sharks, to put it mildly, are the exact opposite.
But this year could be different. The Sharks are playing some of their best hockey of the season, and if you’re a believer that they’ll eventually breakthrough then this is most likely the year. California rivalries are as bitter as they get in the NHL and nothing makes for better late night viewing than Kings v.s. Sharks.
Likely betting slant: The Kings will be favored, especially if they get home ice, but expect it to be somewhere around Kings (-130)/Sharks (+115)
NHL Playoff Betting – Detroit Red Wings v.s. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last year’s series was a classic and this year has equal amounts of intrigue. The Lightning are coming in limping with captain Steven Stamkos out for the first round of the playoffs, while the Red Wings still technically haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet. However, this series has plenty of compelling storylines.
At this point, it’s unclear who will have home ice advantage and who will be favored given the injury situation and the current trajectory of both teams. For the Wings, this could be the last playoff run for future Hall of Famer Pavel Datsyuk, who may bolt to Russia at year’s end. For the Lightning, they’ve already called up disgruntled winger Jonathon Drouin to fill the scoring void left by Stamkos- and wouldn’t it be something if he played a key role in this series. Oh, and Steve Yzerman is right in the thick of this series too. The East may not have as many great series as the West this year, but this could be one of its best.
Likely betting slant: This could be as close to a Pick ‘Em as we’ll get, but the Wings recent form could tip the favorite scales in their favor. This might be one to avoid for your NHL playoff betting.
NHL Playoff Betting – The Chicago Blackhawks v.s. the St. Louis Blues
Heavyweight battle in Round 1. The Central Division wouldn’t have it any other way. The Hawks are the defending champs and the Blues, when healthy, might be the biggest and most talented team in the conference. Much like the Kings v.s. the Sharks, this series has one team with an impressive pedigree and the other team still trying to find its way.
The Blues have been battered by injuries all year, but wouldn’t you know it, they’re finally healthy. The Hawks on the other hand have somewhat righted the ship after a pedestrian 10 game stretch in March, but they’re playing without Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith who is serving a six game suspension. Let’s not forget that these two teams not only dislike each other, but in fact hate each other maybe more than any other two teams in the league.
Likely betting slant: Public money will back the defending champs, but sharp money should follow the Blues. The Hawks come in with name value, but the Blues edge them in health and current form. Bet against Chicago at your own peril, but this could be the Blues’ year.
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