It's business time.
The 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are just about to begin, and with this Before You Bet brings you our Playoff Preview article which outlines the match-ups for Round One, who we think shall advance to the Second Round and our early Cup Winner predictions.
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Dallas Stars v Minnesota Wild
These two teams are meeting for the first time in the Playoffs in both team's franchise histories. Out of the 6 games played against each other in the regular season, Dallas dominated with victories in 5 of those matches.
The Stars have been a very well-rounded, polished team all season and we don't see any reason for their current form not to continue against the Wild. Minnesota will need their young guns to fire if they want to challenge Dallas in this series, but the Stars just look too strong to move into the Second Round.
Tip: Dallas to advance - $1.64 at Sportsbet
St Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks
Arguably one of the best First Round match-ups will feature reigning Stanley Cup Champions the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks know what to do, and do it well, when it comes to the Playoffs, having won 3 Cups in the past 6 years. Yes, you read that correctly. They did away with St Louis in the 2014 Playoffs in 6 games and the Blues won't want history to repeat itself.
St Louis just edged Chicago out in the regular season, winning 3 of their 5 match-ups, and we predict their series could be stretched out to the full 7 games. At this stage, it is just too tough to go past Chicago to move forward towards another Cup, especially if both Kane and Crawford have a great first few games.
Tip: Chicago to advance - $2.02 at Sportsbet
Anaheim Ducks v Nashville Predators
The Ducks have had a year to talk about, for all kinds of reasons. With a start to the season that was very forgettable, losing majority of their first 10 games, and then to bounce back with a win-streak in the latter parts of the season that out-stretched said losing streak. They finished on top of the Pacific Division and second place in the entire Western Conference.
Wild Card qualifiers Nashville Predators have been strong against the Ducks this season. Despite only winning 2 out of the 5 games against Anaheim pre-playoffs, they have out-scored them 10-7. They will need to push all edges during this First Round series if they want to challenge the might of the Ducks, but Anaheim look too strong and should move on in under 6 games.
Tip: Anaheim to advance - $1.60 at Sportsbet
LA Kings v San Jose Sharks
Talk about a current classic Playoff rivalry. The LA Kings have put and end to the Sharks Playoff hopes Round One in both 2013 and 2014, the latter being in the most painful fashion for San Jose. The Sharks had a 3-0 game lead and were a lock for Round Two, but no one told the Kings. LA rallied to win the final 4 games of the series in a row to knock-out the Sharks in brutal fashion, and you can bet they have not, and will not, forget that meltdown.
History aside, these are two very evenly matched-up teams in the NHL and should prove to be a 6 or 7 game series. The Kings had the most Overtime wins this season and may be the factor to just get them over the line again against their Round One arch rivals.
Tip: LA to advance - $1.65 at Sportsbet
Florida Panthers v NY Islanders
Both Florida Panthers and New York Islanders are looking to break their Playoff series win drought. Florida have not moved onto the Second Round since 1996, and as for the Islanders, their last series win was three years earlier than that. Both teams have only played each other 3 times this NHL this season, with the Panthers winning 2 of those games.
With both teams looking to break their 20+ streak of bombing out in Round One of the Playoffs, this will be a hunger-filled, hard-fought series. Look for the Islanders to advance in 6 or the full 7 games, but only if leading goal scorer John Tavares can fire.
Tip: Islanders to advance - $2.21 at Sportsbet
Tampa Bay Lightning v Detroit Red Wings
It will be a case of 'here we go again' as the Lightning and Red Wings met in last season's First Round, in which Tampa Bay took the series 4-3. Detroit have reached their 25th consecutive NHL Playoffs and need prove there is a reason why they are so consistent year in, year out.
With the teams sharing two wins each in the 4 times they met in the regular season, it will come down to who can handle the Playoff pressure the best. Coming back from 2-3 game deficit last year and using that momentum to steer themselves all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, Tampa Bay will yet again send Detroit packing in Round One.
Tip: Tampa Bay to advance - $1.57 at Sportsbet
Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers
Washington have proved to be at the top of their game this season, finishing on top of the league with 120 points and taking home the Presidents Trophy. Last year they they had a 3-1 series lead in Round Two against the New York Rangers, but let that series slip away and were eliminated in disappointing fashion.
The Flyers have had victory against the Caps 3 times in their 5 series history, and will need to be at their best if they want that record to stay in their favor. Washington have to prove they are worthy of their #1 finish this year, and should get past Philly in less than 7 games.
Tip: Washington to advance - $1.39 at Sportsbet
Pittsburgh Penguins v NY Rangers
This series will put Playoff Super-Stars to the test against each other. Penguins forward Sidney Crosby is coming off an 85 point regular season and will be pitted against Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who has won a stellar 24 Playoff games over the past two post-seasons.
Meeting for the third straight year in the Stanley Cup Playoffs should prove to be a heated contest. The Rangers went down to the LA Kings in the Cup final two years ago, and the hunger to return to the big stage could be the advancing factor in this extremely close match-up.
Tip: Rangers to advance - $2.02 at Sportsbet
Future / Outright Stanley Cup Champion Bets:
Round One Top Cup Pick: Anaheim Ducks @ 9.50 - SportsBet
Round One Dark Horse Pick: LA Kings @ 11.00 - SportsBet
Round One Outsider Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning @ 24.00 - SportsBet
Make sure to read full terms and conditions of any betting promotion before placing any bets - may not be available to residents of all states.
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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