With the Stanley Cup playoffs well underway, let’s take a look at three of the series.
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (2) Washington Capitals
The Capitals established themselves as the more physical team early in the series opener, and that trend continued into the next game. But that wasn’t the only trend that carried over. Despite a slow start to seemingly every period in the series thus far, the Bruins have dictated the play and own more than 60% of the expected goals through two games. They have been particularly dominant five-on-five, with a 55% shot share and 66% share of expected goals. The Bruins are in the driver’s seat as the series — and home-ice advantage — shifts to Boston. The Bruins attempted 89 shots Monday, 70 of which were unblocked. The Capitals, on the other hand, generated 63 attempts, which is about league average, and 47 were unblocked. DraftKings currently lists the Bruins as -180 series favorites, which is nearly 5% short of my estimate.
(4) Nashville Predators vs. (1) Carolina Hurricanes
Just about every team has been able to raise its compete level in the playoffs so far, maybe none more than the Hurricanes. After facing some questions due to a couple of lackluster performances to close the regular season in Nashville, the Hurricanes responded in a big way. At five-on-five, the Hurricanes controlled almost 57% of the shot attempts and 62% of the expected goals. The Hurricanes were fast and extremely hard on pucks, and the Predators really didn’t have an answer. Juuse Saros was average in goal for Nashville, as he faced a lot of high-quality shots and gave up about as many goals as we would expect an average goaltender to concede, according to Evolving Hockey. He will need to be great for the Predators to win games in this series. Carolina goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was solid in his first playoff appearance. Bettors should expect much of the same going forward, as the Predators don’t have a trio of forwards who are as even as good as the Hurricanes’ second line, let alone their first line of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Evgeny Svechnikov. However, I will be approaching this series on a game-by-game basis. I was able to capitalize on one big move toward the Predators in the opener, and I’ll be looking to do that again if the market shows any overconfidence. DraftKings currently lists the Hurricanes as -500 series favorites.
(4) St. Louis Blues vs. (1) Colorado Avalanche
What is there to say about this series, really? The Avalanche absolutely crushed the Blues in the first game, and it wasn’t particularly close. Jordan Binnington was incredible in the Blues’ goal, but the Blues needed a lot of luck to pull off a win playing the way they were, and that luck didn’t come their way. Binnington could hold on for only so long as the Avalanche controlled 67% of the shot attempts and 68% of the expected goals during five-on-five play. Things look even worse if special teams are taken into account. In total, the Avalanche generated 50 shots on goal and allowed only 23. Their top stars shined brightly, and bettors shouldn’t expect the Avalanche to drift off course. However, I will never dismiss any team, as the Blues have a path to victory. Whether it comes by way of awful officiating or is nothing more than a consequence of luck, the game is too random to justify writing off any team as an afterthought. Still, the Avalanche will move on to the next round about 93% of the time after drawing first blood. DraftKings currently lists the Avalanche as -1000 series favorites.