BLOOMINGBURG, NY – It’s Saturday as I pen/type this, prior to puck drop of the NHL Playoffs Game 1 between Boston and the Islanders. (Bruins won 5-2) There’s also the Game 6 Provincial War appetizer between Toronto and Montreal in the NHL’s opening round–an opening round in which my predictions two Sundays ago were pretty spot on. Today, you get some more prognostications for Round Two with some quotes from Round One’s guesses sprinkled in.
Islanders @ Boston The audience knows my penchant for reading into the Las Vegas Oddsmaker’s lines when it comes to wagering on the NFL and hockey is no different. Here’s an interesting oddity for you gamblers: the Bruins are the heaviest favorite in this round at -230, despite being only two points better than the Islanders in the regular season – AND – the Isles won the season series 5-3. Wouldn’t you rather take your chances wagering a hundred bucks to win $180 on NY rather than risking better than 2-1 on the Bruins, given how similar these teams are? I bucked the past in picking the Penguins over Isles in 6 stating, “historically, the Isles almost always beat Pittsburgh in the post season.” In a match-up that seldom happens, the Long Islanders have 1980 and 1983 playoff victories over the Black & Gold M – which stung my teenage soul. These two series book-ended the Isles dynasty of four Stanley Cups during the aforementioned years.
In ’80, the Fishsticks won the first two games in overtime and the B’s never recovered. In ’83 Pete Peeters had a regular season for the ages in net for Boston until the Conference Finals when he suffered whiplash from all the pucks put behind him at the hands of the Islanders. One of the games was watched at Angry Ward’s parents’ house, where our Grote2DMax stormed out while Peeters made like a human sieve… the goalie’s career careened out of control afterwards. Again, I’m not predicting any Bruins series but history isn’t on their side either.
Tampa Bay @ Carolina The Canes have home ice in this series and that means little when you’re facing the defending Champs with a stacked roster and Andre Vasilevskiey. The only way home ice advantage means a damn thing is in a seventh game for the purpose of the last change in personnel. I was on the mark with both of these squads opening round series. “Carolina over Nashville in 5,” (missed by one game) and “This won’t be as easy as a five game series would seem. I see one-goal and overtime outcomes,” (the last four games were decided in OT). As for the Bolts… “TB over Fla in 7.
This matchup will be the best opening round series” (maybe wasn’t the best but it was the chippiest). The Hurricanes really upped their roster heading into this year and for a deep playoff run. Canes in 7.
Winnipeg over Edmonton in 7 was Round 1’s selection where
“Hellebuyck has the huge edge in net. The Jets are big and outlast the speedy Oilers.” I didn’t think it’d be that quick but the winner of TOR-MTL (tied at 3-3 after Les Habs won in OT last night) has their work cut out for themselves in playing the Jets.
Vegas @ Colorado Having caught a few Avalanche/Blues games I came away impressed by Nathan MacKinnon’s precision in a nine point series. He was the best player on the ice in the NHL’s second season. “Colorado over St. Louis in 5.” Regardless of what Ryan O’Reilly thinks (he’s on record saying his mates will beat the ‘Lanche) this one’s over before it starts. Why give the team that finished 21 points ahead of you in the standings some bulletin board material? Jack ass! This might be a sweep to be honest” (and it was just that). This second round match-up is a contrast of styles; Colorado’s speed versus Vegas physical style, which was exhausted by the Wild in a seven game series that could have been wrapped up in quick manner up 3-1. That overuse will be Vegas’ undoing. “Minnesota over Vegas in 6 [was]more heart over smart,” as I realized if a seventh game was needed it was a tall order for the Wild hence the six game pick and not 7. Colorado in an easy 6.