On the whole NHL fans can take pride that their game was first. Of all the team sports it was hockey that got its COVID-19 return plan approved ahead of the others. To be exact 24 teams will be on the board with the NHL betting odds.
Both the Eastern and Western Conferences will feature 12 teams each. The account of their regular-season records will the top four teams in each conference get a bye. Eight remaining teams in each conference will meet in a best of five preliminary playoff round. Subsequently all other series will be the best of seven.
Two quarantined hub city locations are still to be determined. So far, the candidates include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, Columbus, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Edmonton.
Now let’s take a look at the first-round matchups.
Eastern Conference Seedings and Matchups
First Round Byes: 1-Boston Bruins 2-Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-Washington Capitals, 4-Philadelphia Flyers
5-Pittsburgh Penguins (-205) vs. 12-Montreal Canadiens (+175)
First glance here shows the Penguins as the clearly superior team. Problematic is the expensive price. Montreal ranked 19th in the regular season for goals scored and goals against. Yet as we know the NHL Playoffs have upsets not seen or possible in other sports. Short five-game series only add to that possibility.
6-Carolina Hurricanes (-140) vs. 11-New York Rangers (+120)
Fashion that New York was the most improving team in the NHL when play stopped. Offense and skill are the strength of the Rangers. Conversely defense and goaltending are a major liability for the Broadway Blueshirts. Carolina is above average and well balanced. In view of their vastly superior back end do the Hurricanes rate the edge.
7-New York Islanders (-120) vs. 10-Florida Panthers (+100)
A clear difference exists between these opposite teams. New York relies on tight defense and structure for its online betting success. Florida is reliant upon offensive skill and scoring. Consequently, the Isles struggle to light the lamp. As the Panthers defense and goaltending is often rendered helpless. On this occasion in a playoff series defense usually prevails.
8-Toronto Maple Leafs (-160) vs. 9-Columbus Blue Jackets (+140)
Starting with the Blue Jackets is the NHL’s ultimate lunch bucket workaday team. Toronto could not be more different. Few teams can match the Maple Leafs for raw ability. In opposition to that is a soft Toronto defense and work ethic.
Western Conference Seedings and Matchups
First Round Byes: 1-St. Louis Blues, 2-Colorado Avalanche, 3-Vegas Golden Knights, 4-Dallas Stars
5-Edmonton Oilers (-160) vs. 12-Chicago Blackhawks (+140)
Namely the Oilers Connor McDavid is the best player in the NHL. Head coach Dave Tippett has brought structure to Edmonton without sacrificing offense. Chicago is a virtual playoff charity case. Account of a lack of depth on both ends of the ice is their prospects slim.
6-Nashville Predators (-140) vs. 11-Arizona Coyotes (+120)
Most of all, this could be the most even matchup of similar teams with the NHL lines. Both are inconsistent and frustrate gamblers to no end. Compared to Arizona the Predators do have more consistent scoring. Arizona was the more reliable defensive team. This series should be labeled “Handle with Care.”
7-Vancouver Canucks (-130) vs. 10-Minnesota Wild (+110)
In view of putting Dean Evason in charge as interim head coach did the Wild improve. Minnesota was playing its most consistent hockey of the season at the time of the break. Counter to that is a Canucks team that was running on fumes. Vancouver’s hot start couldn’t be sustained by a thin roster.
8-Calgary Flames (-120) vs. 9-Winnipeg Jets (+100)
Specifically, the Flames and Jets could be the best series in the preliminary round. Calgary seemed to be winning with mirrors at times. NHL Metrics shows the Flames to be an ordinary team. Late on the Jets were starting to take off when play was suspended. Of major concern was their drop in offensive productivity from one season ago.
CASHBET Best Bets: Oilers and Jets
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