Stanley Cup Playoffs: second-round preview and predictions

May 17, 2022 08:08 AM
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The first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs was wild, as we saw five matchups go the distance and play a Game 7. Now, just eight teams remain, and the winners of each series will advance to the Conference Final and get one step closer to competing for the Stanley cup. All recommended bets are tracked as one unit (bet to win one unit on favorite and risk one unit on underdog) unless stated otherwise. If you want, you can use the model projection to bet in proportion to its perceived edge. Let’s look at each series from a betting perspective.

Round 1 Recap (Series Bets)

Win - Lightning To Win Series + 100

Win - Blues To Win Series + 130

Loss - Flames Series Spread (-1.5) -140

Loss - Bruins To Win Series -105

Loss - Bruins To Win Series (Adjusted after Game 2) + 170 (half size)

Record: 2-3, -0.65 units

All stats via Evolving Hockey. Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Tampa Bay Lightning (+ 150) at Florida Panthers (-170)

Florida was the best offensive team during the regular season, scoring over four goals per 60 minutes, but they couldn’t score at that rate against Washington in the first round. They didn’t dominate the Capitals, either, as their expected goals for percentage (even strength) sat at just 54 percent after six games, and things are going to get tougher in Round 2. Scoring goals on Andrei Vasilevskiy should be a lot more challenging than facing off against the likes of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. Alternatively, the Lightning should have a tougher time defending the Panthers than they did the Maple Leafs in Round 1. Toronto was the best offensive team that the Lightning had ever faced in the playoffs, until now. The Lightning have a big edge in goal, as Sergei Bobrovsky’s chances of stealing games in this series are slim, but the Panthers are a better team top to bottom, and Tampa Bay’s offense isn’t as potent as Florida’s is.

There’s also the issue of Brayden Point’s injury. Point has been a huge contributor to the Lightning, especially during their two Stanley Cup runs, and he’s doubtful to play in Game 1. His status for the rest of the series is up in the air but based on how he looked in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs, there should be concern about his availability going forward. Without Point, the Lightning’s offense isn’t going to be as dangerous. The Lightning are the two-time defending champions, and they defeated the Panthers in the playoffs last season, but Florida will likely prevail this time around. According to my model, Florida has a 66 percent chance of winning the series, which means the series moneyline should be -195 in favor of the Presidents’ Trophy winners.

Pick:

Florida Panthers Series Winner -170

St. Louis Blues (+ 300) vs. Colorado Avalanche (-400)

St. Louis eliminated the Minnesota Wild in six games and they get the pleasure of matching up with the Colorado Avalanche, who swept the Nashville Predators in their first round series, in Round 2. Colorado scored over five goals per 60 minutes in Round 1, and while the Blues are a better team than the Predators, it’s tough to be optimistic about their chances of getting past the Avalanche. The Blues and Wild were evenly matched teams, and St. Louis finished the series with a 50 percent share of shots and expected goals. The Avalanche, meanwhile, owned 69 percent of the expected goals in their series. Colorado swept the Blues in the playoffs last season, and while I don’t expect the Blues to lose four in a row, I also wouldn’t be surprised if it happened.

Jordan Binnington is not the goaltender he was when the Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019, and while he did play well once he was inserted into the Blues’ lineup midway through the first round, the Avalanche are almost certainly going to pepper him in Round 2. The Blues might be able to match the Avalanche on offense at times, but unless Binnington steals a couple of games, which seems unlikely, the Avalanche will be moving on. St. Louis defenceman Torey Krug’s status is up in the air, too. He’s travelling with the team to Colorado, but he’s still rehabbing an injury and is not expected to suit up in Game 1, and I wouldn’t count on him playing Game 2, either. That’s a big loss for the Blues, who really can’t afford to give the Avalanche any more of an edge than they already have.

According to my model, Colorado will win the series approximately 78 percent of the time, meaning their odds should be around -355. That’s in line with the betting market, and therefore, I won’t be backing either team to win the series.

New York Rangers (+ 170) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (-190)

New York trailed the Penguins 3-1 in their first round series, but eventually came out on top after they came from behind to win Game 7 in overtime. The Rangers were badly outplayed in that series, though, and while they should have an edge in goal against the Hurricanes in Round 2, their chances of moving on to the Conference Final aren’t good. According to my model, the Rangers have a 35 percent chance of defeating the Hurricanes, which means the favorite’s odds should be sitting at around -185. Carolina would be in a much better position if their starting goaltender, Frederik Andersen, was healthy, but he’s still working his way back from injury and Antti Raanta appears to be the guy until he returns.

Igor Shesterkin wasn’t great for the Rangers in Round 1, but he’s got pedigree and potential to be the best goaltender in the world on any given night. Carolina didn’t dominate the Bruins in Round 1, but they made good on their chances, and won the series despite blowing a 2-0 lead. Shesterkin will have to be difference maker in this series if the Rangers want to advance, as the Hurricanes will likely own most of the shots and scoring chances, just like the Penguins did in the last series. Carolina ranked as a top-10 team on offense during the regular season, and no team allowed fewer goals per 60 minutes. Of course, Andersen’s play in goal was a big reason for that, but the Rangers are an average team on offense, and they don’t drive play at even strength.

Edmonton Oilers (+ 170) vs. Calgary Flames (-190)

The Battle of Alberta. I have been watching hockey for as long as I can remember. Still, I can’t remember the last time the Flames and Oilers faced off in the playoffs, because it last happened 31 years ago. This series is going to going to be appointment viewing, as there’s a lot of animosity here. The cities don’t like each other, but the teams hate each other, and that should make for an entertaining matchup. Both teams went to Game 7 in the first round, and while the Flames were bigger favorites in their series versus Dallas than the Oilers were in their matchup against the Kings, the way Calgary was able to overcome Jake Oettinger and his historic performance in the crease was impressive. It was a hard fought, physical series that sets them up nicely with a lot of great experience as they get set to play the Oilers in Round 2.

Calgary is missing defenceman Chris Tanev due to injury, which is a blow to the team, but they might only have to worry about one Oilers’ superstar, as Leon Draisaitl is nowhere near 100 percent. Draisaitl hobbled his way through the latter parts of the first round and hasn’t been able to be the impact player that the Oilers have relied on in the past. He doesn’t have his legs under him, as he appears to be dealing with a lower body injury, and he hasn’t been shooting the puck, likely because finding time and space has been more difficult. Draisaitl only registered eight shots on goal in the final five games of the series after hitting the net nine times in the first two games. If the Flames can take him out of the games by making life tough on him, the Oilers won’t be in a good position to upset their rivals.

The Flames have a much better goaltender than the Oilers do, as Jacob Markstrom is up for the Vezina Trophy and is fresh off setting a franchise record for accumulating the highest save percentage in a playoff series. Mike Smith was fine in the first round, but the Oilers aren’t a good defensive team (20th in goals against per 60 minutes during the regular season) and Smith is as inconsistent as they come. Calgary is a top team on offensive, and with Markstrom playing the best hockey of his career, they’re bound to continue to be one of the better teams on defense. This should be a great series, but according to my model, the Flames are going to come out on top approximately 74 percent of the time, and that means their odds should be closer to -285.

Pick:

Calgary Flames Series Winner -190 (two units)

Bet Summary:

Florida Panthers Series Winner -170

Calgary Flames Series Winner -190 (two units)

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