NHL Conference Finals Betting Guide, Playoff Odds & Picks
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EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Remember when everyone felt sorry for the New York Islanders a couple years ago after John Tavares chose to leave as a free agent for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs? The poor, Small-Fish-in-a-Big-Apple Islanders, deserted by their best player of the previous 35 years or so.
Tavares and the Maple Leafs have been an afterthought for weeks now, while the Islanders on Monday night will play their first Eastern Conference final postseason game since 1993, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
While the Lightning has been sitting around a few days now after dispatching the Bruins, the Islanders had 48 hours to get from the Toronto bubble to the Edmonton bubble and start playing. Could that have an impact on the outcome of this series?
Then we have the Vegas-Dallas series, which might turn out to be the lowest-rated television viewing audience of any NHL playoff series in history. That’s saying a lot. Golden Knights-Stars for a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals – in Edmonton - doesn’t figure to be a massive TV ratings success nationally.
But for hockey purists and NHL betting fans, this will be a fascinating series to watch. Both teams play an old-school brand of hockey in 2020, which means lots of hitting, lots of trash talk and just enough defense and goaltending to win.
Latest Stanley Cup 2020 Odds
|Vegas Golden Knights||+145|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+180|
|New York Islanders||+500|
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NHL Eastern Conference Finals: Islanders-Lightning Odds & Pick
THE ODDS: Lightning -195, Islanders +160
Sixteen shots. That’s all the Islanders allowed Philadelphia in Game 7 Saturday, a 4-0 win. Islanders coach Barry Trotz is simply a defensive genius, and the Lightning had better come ready to work or else it will another supposedly bigger-time opponent on his victims’ list.
One unanswered question for Tampa Bay entering Game 1: Will last year’s Hart Trophy winner, Nikita Kucherov, be back to normal in Game 1? He took a stick to the head in Game 5 against Boston and didn’t return. Tampaq Bay coach Jon Cooper said Sunday that Kucherov should be fit to play Monday. The Lightning is already missing Steven Stamkos, so not having Kucherov fully fit would be tough.
Tampa Bay still has plenty of offense, though. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevsky has been excellent so far, too.
What’s the X-factor for this series, then? It’ll probably come down to just how much the Lightning is willing to grind against a Trotz-coached team, and there’s good news for Bolts fans in that regard: Tampa Bay really does seem to have learned from that first-round sweep at the hands of the Blue Jackets last year. The Bolts are winning not just on pure talent now; they’re winning with hard work.
THE PICK: Lightning in 6
3 Eastern Conference Betting Tips
1. Take the under: Goals are definitely going to be hard to come by in this series. The Islanders’ checking system is relentless, while Vasilevsky is an elite goalie.
2. Be on Point for props: Looking for the best bet as a Lightning player to score goals, on prop bets? Take Brayden Point. He’s become a legit star and has a shot at a Conn Smythe the way he’s played so far.
3. Bite on Barzal: As of Sunday night, New York's Matthew Barzal was +340 to score a goal in Game 1, as a prop bet. I would take a flyer on that prop, as Barzal is a top-notch forward and I think he starts the series strong.
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NHL Eastern Conference First-Round Series Betting Recap
Our Picks: Flyers (-240) over Canadiens (+195), Lightning (-255) over Blue Jackets (+185), Bruins (-159) over Hurricanes (+135) and Islanders (+122) over Capitals (-143). Our Record: 4-0
NHL Eastern Conference Second-Round Series Betting Recap
Our Picks: Lightning (+100) over Bruins (-118), Flyers (-139) over Islanders (+118). Our Record: 2-0
Overall Betting Result In Eastern Conference: 5-1, +383
NHL Western Conference Finals: Golden Knights-Stars Odds & Pick
THE ODDS: Golden Knights -225, Stars +185
This should be a seven-game series. Both teams are big and physical and play tough in both ends. Dallas beat the more-talented Colorado in the second round with relentless forechecking and great special teams play. Dallas can pin you in your own zone better than any team in the league when it wants.
There is also a lot of high-end talent, on the first line led by Tyler Seguin, and on defense led by Jack Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen. Vegas has the edge in goal, though. The tandem of Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury is better than the Stars’ duo of Anton Khudobin and … well, maybe Ben Bishop.
Bishop tried to play in one game in the second round and was lit up badly, and hasn’t played since. Vegas looked very shaky after Game 6 the last round against Vancouver, but the Knights really played a great Game 7 and here they are.
I just think that Dallas looks a bit better right now. They are a team built for the playoffs.
THE PICK: Stars in 7 (which can be had for +650 if you want to make that bet as well just the series bet)
3 Western Conference Betting Tips
1. Take the over: Dallas showed it can score a lot of goals against Colorado. Vegas scored a fair amount of goals in the second round, too. While Vegas has the edge at the goaltending position, Dallas’ offense is hot right now.
2. Fade Tyler Seguin: The Stars may not say anything about it, but my sources tell me Dallas No. 1 center Tyler Seguin has a pretty bad wrist injury right now. Stay away from any prop bets on Seguin for now.
3. Bet more than one goal for Dallas in third periods: Dallas is able to impose its physical will in tough situations. More often than not, that means in third periods. They have been very good in third periods so far, so bet the over on 1.5 goals in third periods with them.You can grab these bets and more at FOX Bet.
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NHL Western Conference First-Round Series Betting Recap
Our Picks: Golden Knights (-315) over Blackhawks (+255), Avalanche (-286) over Coyotes (+235), Blues (-200) over Canucks (+167) and Flames (+100) over Stars (-118). Our Record: 2-2
NHL Western Conference Second-Round Series Betting Recap
Our Picks: Golden Knights (-275) over Canucks (+220), Avalanche (-195) over Stars (+160). Our Record: 1-1
Overall Betting Result In Western Conference: 3-3, -195