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NHL Playoffs: What have we learned and what are some futures bets must be placed?

I wanted to start off with by bragging a little bit about my round 1 performance to show you that I am not fucking around here!!!!! I cashed a 6 team round robin that I included below and went 7-0 on the following round 1 series bets:

  1. Jets +1.5 series line ✅
  2. Hurricanes -1.5 series line✅
  3. Lightning to advance✅
  4. Canadiens/Maple Leafs over 5.5 games ✅
  5. Canadiens to advance✅
  6. Wild/Knights over 5.5 games✅
  7. Avs -1.5 series line ✅

So, the question still remains: what have we learned? 

  1. The Panthers were in fact the real deal! They showed up in the playoffs unlike last year but just had an incredibly tough matchup against an experienced and healthy Tampa Bay team that ultimately bested them. With that being said, the Lightning look again like they could very well win back to back Stanley Cup championships. 
  2. Juuse Saros currently is a top ten goalie in the NHL; if Pekka Rinne had started, it is very possible that the Hurricanes would’ve swept Nashville cleanly. However, it’s not going to get any easier for them against Tampa Bay who is better in just about every category you can think of, including goaltending. We have seen this through the first 2 games but I would not be surprised if this series goes to 6 or 7 games. 
  3. Continue to fade Toronto and Edmonton in the playoffs!!! I have been on this wave since last year when I backed Chicago and Columbus to advance from their respective play-in matchups. Toronto chokes just about every year. They always have a talented team but they can just never make it out of the first round, and somehow I always find myself getting + money on their opponents and I can not be more grateful! As for the Oilers, the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win in all of sports and it cannot be won by the mere talent of two players. Until I see other guys step up for Edmonton and until I see that they have depth, I will not be backing them. When you have games going to 2OT you can’t expect to win by running only 2 lines and expecting McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nurse to have any gas left in the tank. If you can’t trust your 3rd and 4th line then it is very unlikely you will make a legitimate playoff run. Half
  4. The Montreal Canadiens are not the same team that we saw slumping through the second half of the regular season. This is not a fluke so give them the credit they deserve! They are healthy, creating a lot of high danger scoring chances, and Carey Price appears to be locked in. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to advance past Winnipeg. 
  5. Don’t you ever dare fade Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders in the playoffs. They almost always appear to be underdogs but don’t let that fool you. They are a team built for the playoffs; they have great coaching, two very solid goaltenders in Sorokin and Varlomov, they play physical, and they are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. In saying this, I mean no disrespect towards the Boston Bruins who have been firing on all cylinders ever since acquiring Taylor Hall at the trade deadline and having and being able to rely on a healthy Tuukka Rask. However, would I ever pay -190 price on the Bruins ML or -225 on a series price? Hell no!!! I think the New York Islanders are much more equpped to advance past Boston than the Washington Capitals were in Round 1, but yet they are being given pretty similar betting lines. I am not saying that the Islanders will advance but I do think they are being undervalued and the Islanders will claw their way to a Game 6 or 7. With that being said, I did invest in over 5.5 games in this series, I got it at -139 prior to the puck drop in Game 1. The series is now currently tied 1-1 so the juice likely went up but I would take it at any price you can. Mark my words, there will be a game 6!!!

Now, I still didn’t get to the most important question, where do we go from here from a betting perspective? There is one final lesson that I think all hockey fans and hockey bettors need to understand; that is, don’t place too much emphasis on head-to-head games in the regular season. We saw Florida win two dominant victories over Tampa Bay as did Nashville to Carolina to close the regular season. When I saw 70+% of the public betting money on the Florida Panthers in Game 1, I had never been so excited to take Tampa Bay in my life! We also saw Minnesota essentially dominate Vegas in the regular season and fail to do so in the playoffs (despite giving them a respectable run for their money). The point being, don’t get sucked into the narrative and don’t fall into the traps. 

So what is the narrative right now? Everyone seems to think the Colorado Avalanche are miles ahead of any other team in the NHL. They are fast, they dominate puck possession, they have elite talent, convert on a large number of high danger scoring chances, and don’t give up much. Not to mention, Philipp Grubauer is among the best goalies that the league has to offer. Gun to my head, if I had to pick one team to go all the way it would have to be Colorado. But are we really going to sit here and say teams like Vegas, Tampa Bay, Carolina, New York, and Boston can’t compete? That would be a pretty naive statement given the competitiveness of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and also the fact that no team has played any games outside of their respective divisions this season. So pleased, do not pay the price at +125 for Colorado to win the Stanley Cup. The value here is absolute dogshit. I’ll be generous, I’ll give them a 75% chance to send Vegas packing and then a 80% chance to eliminate the winner of the Winnipeg/Montreal series. In fact, I am expecting a  much more competitive game 2 between Vegas and Colorado. If it’s Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup finals, I would actually give a slight advantage to the defending champs but for arguments sake, let’s say Colorado has a 60% win probability there. This would give Colorado a 36% chance to win the Stanley Cup which correlates to +277 odds. Getting back to the Avs/Knights series, in Game 2 I expect Vegas to come out playing more physically, dominate puck possession, and really test Grubauer. Game 1 was the result of a rusty Robin Lehnner and a fatigued Vegas team against the well-rested Colorado Avalanche. I absolutely love Vegas +1.5 and I also like o5.5 games for the series which I believe dropped to -109 after Game 1; I think the Vegas Golden Knights are good for 2 wins at least. You better believe that if Colorado matches up against Tampa Bay or New York, I’m fading the Avs and I will gladly take the + money! The point being, it is more likely than not that Colorado will be stopped! 

There’s always a few series in the playoffs where I always get these “Pros vs Joes” vibes in a clash between the public bettors and the sharps. Spoiler alert, the sharps usually win! In the NBA, it was definitely the Knicks/Hawks series where I strongly advised everyone not to back the Knicks. In the NHL round 1, the two main ones that I picked up on were Lightning/Panthers and Jets/Oilers. Call me crazy, but I am getting these same vibes in the Lightning/Hurricanes series where I feel like the professional play might be backing the defending champions. Don’t get me wrong, Carolina is an elite hockey team; they have good coaching, positional depth, 2 solid goalies, and they are incredible at both ends of the ice. In my heart I am rooting for them to send Tampa Bay packing! But you look at Tampa Bay, their roster and playoff experience, their special teams, and the goaltending of Andrei Vasilveskiy, there’s not much more you could ask for. I would unfortunately have to lean towards Tampa to win the series; Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 series line is not a bad option either.

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