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Stuckey: 3 NHL Series Wagers I’m Making Right Now

Credit:

James Guillory, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Petr Mrazek

  • The St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins won Game 1 of their series, while Hurricanes-Islanders and Avs-Sharks get underway on Friday night.
  • Stuckey details three series bets he's making, along with his approach for Avalanche-Sharks Game 1.

After a successful (and very sweaty) start to the postseason with series bets in Round 1, it’s time to focus on the second round.

As I tweeted on Thursday, I wanted to wait on the two series that started last night. I didn’t see much value on a side in either game but I was hoping both home teams would win. Well, both the Blues and Bruins obliged, so I got my wish.

St. Louis Blues vs. Dallas Stars Series Pick

I will now be investing in both the Blue Jackets and Stars at +240 for the series.

I actually rate the Blues and Stars pretty similarly but think the difference will be the experience of Ben Bishop in net for Dallas. St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington is no doubt playing extremely well, but remember: He’s only played in seven postseason games — the same number of overtime playoff games Bishop has played in, where he owns a stellar 6-1 record.

Bishop has been excellent throughout his career in the playoffs. His .929 save percentage ranks fifth all time among goalies with a minimum of 20 postseason games. And his 2.08 GAA ranks first among all active goalies with that same minimum.

Big Ben has arguably been the best goalie in the NHL this season and should win the Verona. I think the former Blues draft pick, who also played for the Junior Blues, will end up sending the Blues home.

The margins should be tight in each game in what should be a defensive war all series, so I’ll roll the dice on +240 here with the Stars.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Boston Bruins Series Pick

In regards to the other series, I think the Bruins are the better team overall, but I give a slight edge in net to the Jackets, who seem to have something special brewing this postseason. This is another series of two teams that play similar styles. And like Blues-Stars, expect tight defensive battles as we saw in Game 1.

Both of these series should be conducive to betting unders throughout.

Let’s now shift our focus to the two other series that start tonight. Here is how I’m approaching each for Game 1 and the series.

Colorado Avalanche vs. San Jose Sharks: Game 1 Betting

I can get a better price on the Avs for Game 1 than the series, and that’s the route I’m going to take for a few reasons.

1. I think there is a good chance that the Sharks come out a little flat after such a stunning, emotional Game 7 win over Vegas. Big-time letdown risk here for San Jose.

2. The Sharks will be shorthanded for Game 1. Not only is Joe Pavelski expected to miss tonight’s action, fellow forwards Joonas Donskoi, Micheal Haley and Melker Karlsson are also dealing with injuries.

3. Conversely, the Avs will arrive in San Jose rested and healthy. In fact, they face a tough decision as to who should get scratched tonight. A good problem to have now that Samuel Girard is back healthy on defense.

Yes, the Sharks swept the Avs during the regular season, but I don’t put too much weight into that. The Flames also did and Calgary is currently sitting at home. Plus, Colorado was a different team down the stretch.

The Avs’ rest and healthy advantage should accentuate their speed advantage in Game 1 — and that’s before the San Jose letdown risk that I mentioned earlier.

Colorado also has the better goaltender, which is what will likely make me chomp on the Avs series price if they lose Game 1. But for now, investing in them tonight is the best option in my opinion.

Oh and look out for Girard and Maker together on the second power play unit. That could be fun to watch (unless you’re a Sharks fan).

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders Series Pick

The old rest vs. rust argument is fully in play here. While the Canes just came off an emotional comeback win in Game 7 against the defending champs on Wednesday, the Islanders finished off a sweep of the Penguins more than a week ago.

That means the Canes will head up I-95 to start their Round 2 series with only one day’s rest to take on a team that will have the second-longest break in NHL playoff history.

Historically, long breaks haven’t been a material advantage or disadvantage for Game 1. However, not many teams have had this long of a break. The Ducks had the longest ahead of their Stanley Cup series against the Devils in 2003. Anaheim ended up losing both Game 1 and Game 2 at home without scoring a goal (lost each by a score of 3-0).

That’s clearly not a big enough sample size to apply to this series, but I would think the long layoff would hurt the Islanders more than it would help.

I’m not too worried about fatigue from the Canes, as they are one of the most well conditioned teams in the league, as they showed in the extra periods in D.C. on Wednesday. However, I am worried about an emotional letdown after such a monumental comeback.

Game 1 is too hard for me to call, but I do think the Canes are the slightly better team, so I felt comfortable enough taking the +110 for the series. I expect a long series in a style clash so I may jump on the Islanders at plus money if they drop Game 1, especially since I have plenty riding on the Canes already with a 125-1 future from the preseason — my sole 2019 Cup future.

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