BlackJack Fletcher Sizes Up Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs
The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin today, and with that we have to direct our focus toward the new series about to begin. Part of that is looking at the series prices and determining whether there is any value in a series future. The Bruins and Lightning series is not posted yet, but it is a series I would avoid regardless. I believe the Bruins will win, but it has a seven-game feel to it, and I would be uncomfortable laying money on the Bruins in that type of series. However, there’s value to be found in the other three matchups. So let’s take a look at the conference semifinals.
Washington Capitals (+110) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (-130)
The Pittsburgh Penguins are Kryptonite to the Washington Capitals. The Pens have defeated the Caps in the second round in each of the last two postseasons. The Capitals have been a competitive team for more than a decade but have yet to get over the hump. And sorry to say, but this isn’t the #Capsyear either. Pittsburgh is too experienced, too deep and too talented. The Caps had a nice rebound after getting pushed around for two games by Columbus, but as good as the Blue Jackets are, they aren’t in the same category as the Penguins. This could be a six- or seven-game series, but at the end it’ll be the same old song.
THE PICK: Penguins -130
Winnipeg Jets (+120) vs. Nashville Predators (-140)
This is going to be a tightly contested series. The Jets looked very sharp in their five-game series victory over the Minnesota Wild. They also have a very sharp goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck. Nashville came into the playoffs as one of the most well-rounded teams in all of hockey. But their six-game series against Colorado exposed something. It exposed the fact that even though they have a spectacular defense, they are prone to lapses from time to time. When those bumps occur, Pekka Rinne is not capable of bailing them out by himself. I think this could bite the Predators as this series wears on. The Jets have Patrik Laine — who is the NHL’s second-leading goal scorer in the last two years after Alex Ovechkin — and a generally underrated roster. I think this is absolutely a seven-game series, but I’m going with the balance and determination of the Jets at the plus money price.
THE PICK: Jets +120
San Jose Sharks (+110) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (-130)
These are two very similar teams. The Jets and Knights both like to play wide-open, fast-paced, offensively oriented hockey. The difference to me is simple. The Knights are the deeper team, and all four of their lines can score. That depth is almost unparalleled in the NHL. Additionally the goaltending matchup favors the Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury has been simply sublime in these playoffs. Martin Jones played well against the Ducks, but he will face a much tougher task in the Vegas offense. The Sharks will score goals in this series and most likely win a few games, but I think the Knights are simply the deeper and more talented team.
THE PICK: Golden Knights -130
All odds current as of Thursday morning.