2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Eastern Conference
It’s playoff time in the NHL and I will be looking to cover the Round 1 matches in two posts, one for the Eastern Conference and one for the Western Conference and I shall be looking at the numbers to see if we can pull out the teams which will progress to the next round.
Boston Bruins Vs Detroit Red Wings
The Bruins get home ice advantage for the first two matches against the Red Wings and the Bruins have been good on home ice with 8 wins from their past 9 matches whilst the Red Wings have not been great on the road, they did win in St Louis when last on the road but just 4 wins in their last 11 when away from home.
The Red Wings have won the last three games when these two sides have met, twice at home and they also won 3-2 on their last visit to Boston and they do not have a bad record here with only 1 defeat in their last 5 visits to Boston which includes 3 victories without needing overtime and they scored 8 here back in September!
Boston have only managed to produce 9 victories in their last 30 match-ups with Detroit but they have been in fine form at home this season and having home ice for the first two matches will play in their favour, whether Detroit can pick up anything from the first two games is going to be tough but they have a proven record against Boston.
Detroit’s form coming into this series would be a big concern and I can see Boston pulling out a 2-0 lead at home and the question is whether Detroit can get it done on home ice but then again I just cannot see them winning this series, Boston are too short at 1.36 to back to win the series but I can see Boston winning their 3 matches on home ice and also picking up a win in Detroit so I am going with correct series score of 4-1 to the Bruins.
Bet: Boston Bruins to win the series 4-1 (4.00 Ladbrokes)
Tampa Bay Lightning Vs Montreal Canadians
Tampa come into this series on a four match winning streak which includes winning their last three on home ice whilst Montreal only only picked up one win which came in overtime against the Rangers in their last three matches so are not coming into the play-offs in great form.
Montreal have struggled to keep the goals out when on the road in the past month but they have won 6 of their last 8 on the road which also tells you that although letting in goals, they have also scored plenty!
Looking at the H2H record, 3 of the last 4 matches between the side have gone to overtime and all 3 of those matches ended with the visiting team winning the match, Tampa won the last meeting in normal time 3-1 but that was their first win in 4 matches when hosting Montreal.
These two sides met back in 2004 in the play-offs and it was easy for Tampa who progressed 4-0 but that will not be the case this year, it looks a tricky series, Tampa have won 10 of their last 15 post season games whilst Montreal have struggled with post-season with just 2 wins from their last 10 matches, last year they went out to Ottawa 4-1.
There is not much splitting them in the betting for the series, Tampa are 1.90 and Montreal are 2.00 and this could be a series where game 7 may be needed and that is the betting that I am going to take but I believe that Tampa will be the side to come out on top so a 4-3 series in favour of the Lightning.
Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning to win the series 4-3 (5.50 Bet365)
Pittsburgh Penguins Vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Pittsburgh have had a good season but they do come into the post-season on the back of two defeats and both were on home ice and they have won just 5 of their last 10 games whilst Columbus come into the series in much better form with 4 wins in their last 5 matches of the regular season and that includes 2 victories on the road.
Pittsburgh have very much had the upper-hand when the two sides have met in the past, the Penguins have now won six in a row against the Blue Jackets and have a record of 14-5 since 2000.
In 2013 Pittsburgh saw off both the Islanders and the Senators in the play-offs before coming unstuck against the Bruins when they lost the series 4-0 whilst Columbus have not appeared in post-season since 2009 when they fell at the first hurdle with a 4-0 loss to the Red Wings.
I just cannot see past the Penguins in this series with their recent record against the Blue Jackets so I will be playing the handicap market of -1.50 as I believe the Penguins will win the series by 2+ games.
Bet: Pittsburgh Penguins handicap (-1.50) to win the series (2.00 Paddypower)
New York Rangers Vs Philadelphia Flyers
The final series in the Eastern Conference sees the Rangers take on the Flyers, the Rangers come into the series with a record of 6-4 in their last 10 matches of the regular season and you would think that their home form is going to be the key point in this series, they have won 5 of their last 7 on home ice.
The Flyers did not end the season well, in their final 10 matches of the regular season their record was 4-6 and that would be a concern going into this series especially as their last 10 matches in post-season also reads 4-6.
These two sides met post-season in both 1995 and 1997 and the numbers speak in the Flyers favours with 8 wins to the Rangers 1 but in more recent times the match-up is much closer with the last 10 matches in regular season producing a 6-4 in favour of the Rangers.
The bookies have the Rangers as favourites for the series which is not surprising considering the form of the Flyers but I think it will be much closer than they have it and I am going to take a chance that the Flyers will rediscover some form in this series and go on to win it.