If the first night of the NHL Playoffs is an indicator, we’re in for a wild ride over the next several weeks. Three of the five games on last night’s slates ended with upset results, and that sets the stage for what should be another compelling night of action. There’s three games on the docket this evening, and we’ll be tieing all of them together on a single parlay ticket in a quest for greater returns.
The first game of the night is a rematch of a first-round playoff series from last year which went the distance. The Toronto Maple Leafs will be on the road for game one versus the Boston Bruins. The hosts took last year’s series 4-3.
Next up, the Washington Capitals open up defense of their Stanley Cup crown at home in the nation’s capital. They’ll welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to town for game one of their best-of-seven set. The Capitals had some struggles in the middle of the regular season, but they closed things out looking like one of the best squads in the league.
The final game of the night is a first-round Western Conference matchup featuring the top team in the conference during the regular season. The Colorado Avalanche were able to secure the final playoff spot in the conference, and they’ll head North of the Border to face off with the Calgary Flames, the #1 seed in the west.
We have three great games to look forward to for night two of this year’s tournament. Let’s take a look at all three contests in full detail, starting with the rematch from last year’s playoffs.
All betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Boston Bruins, 7:00 PM EST, NBCSN
Maple Leafs vs. Bruins pick:
The end of the regular season was not kind to the Maple Leafs as the team dropped its final three games and lost four of the last five overall. Home defeats to the Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning were followed by a road shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the regular season finale on Saturday. Despite that, Toronto enters the tournament as a dangerous team which could make some noise.
The Bruins have slightly coasted since locking up their playoff seed. The team dropped three of its final five games of the season, but they wrapped things up with wins in two of their last three. Road victories over the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild were followed by a 6-3 pasting by the Tampa Bay Lightning at home on Saturday.
Toronto’s regular season was a tale of two halves. In the first half of the year, the Maple Leafs were looking like one of the team’s top squads as they ripped off a number of winning streaks. While the team was still strong in the second half, they didn’t look quite as strong. Nonetheless, closing out the year with 100 points is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Boston was a bit more consistent throughout the year. The team rolled through a dominant stretch from February into March in which they dropped only one of 13 games, with the lone blemish over that span coming via a shootout loss. The team has been strong at home this season with a mark of 29-9-3, but we can say the same about the visitors who have a record of 23-12-6 in away games.
Frederik Andersen is expected to be in net for Toronto tonight. He brings a record of 36-16-7 to the table with a 2.77 goals against average and a save percentage of .917. For the Bruins, Tuukka rask is expected to get the nod. On the season, Rask is 27-13-5 with a .912 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average.
John Tavares is the leading goal scorer for the Maple Leafs with 47. Mitch Marner leads the team with 68 assists and 94 points. Brad Marchand is tops on the Bruns with 64 assists and 100 points. David Pastrnak is the top goal scorer with 38.
These two clubs hooked up three times during the regular season. The Bruins hold a 3-1 edge, winning two at home and one in Toronto. In last year’s playoffs, Boston knocked out the Maple Leafs with a Game 7 victory in round one.
These two clubs are evenly matched, and it wouldn’t be stunning to see this series go the distance for the second year in a row. For game one, we’ll look for Boston’s strong home ice advantage to be the difference maker as they get the victory.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Washington Capitals, 7:30 PM EST, USA
Hurricanes vs. Capitals pick:
The Hurricanes had their fair share of struggles in the first half of the regular season, lowlighted by a five-game winless run in the early going. However, the team turned things around and became a solid squad in the second half. Carolina closed out the year on a high note by winning their final three games, including a 4-3 road victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the regular season finale.
The defending champion Capitals opened up the year playing well, but they hit a rough patch of ice in the middle part of the year. The low point came in a seven-game winless run back in January. The club turned things around in big league fashion, highlighted by an unblemished run over seven games from February into March. Washington has looked every bit the part of a contender down the stretch run.
Carolina closed out the regular season playing solid hockey with wins in their final five contests. That includes victories in the final three games, with all of the wins coming in regulation. The club finished up with 99 points on the year when all was said and done, which was good enough for 7th place in the loaded Eastern Conference.
Washington rebounded from its January slumber and turned it on big time in the final weeks of the regular season. Highlights include a seven-game unblemished run and a four-game winning streak to close out the month of March. The Capitals finished up the year with 104 points, good enough for 3rd place in the conference.
Petr Mrazek has the probable designation for the Hurricanes this evening. He’s 23-14-3 on the year with a .914 save percentage and 2.39 goals against average. For the Capitals, Braden Holtby has been confirmed as the starter. Holtby was 32-19-5 with a 2.82 goals against average and .911 save percentage this season.
Sebastian Aho leads the way on offense for Carolina with 30 goals and 83 points. Teuvo Teravainen is the top assist man with 55. Alex Ovechkin tops the Capitals with 51 goals and 89 points. John Carlson leads the team with 57 assists.
During the regular season, the Capitals swept all four games from the Hurricanes. The visitors are pretty good on the road with a mark of 22-16-3, while Washington has been stout at home with a record of 24-11-6.
Both clubs played well in the second half of the regular season, but the intensity kicks up several notches in the playoffs. We’re looking for the Capitals to open up their Stanley Cup defense with a win on the home ice.
Colorado Avalanche @ Calgary Flames, 10:00 PM EST, NBCSN
Avalanche vs. Flames pick:
The end of the regular season couldn’t have gone much better for the Avalanche. Over the last 10 games, the team checks in with a record of 7-1-2. The strong play led them to snag the final spot in the Western Conference field with 90 points. Colorado closed out the year with a 5-2 road loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
The Flames finished the year with two straight losses, but the squad took down the mantle of the conference’s finest with 107 points. Prior to dropping their final two contests, Calgary ripped off a three-game winning streak to put its final stamp on the west. That was the club’s third three-game winning streak over the final month of the year.
The Avalanche suffered through a painful eight-game winless run from late January into February, but the club was able to turn things around from that point. It was a battle to secure the final playoff spot in the conference, but a pair of four-game winning streaks down the stretch helped to seal the deal. Colorado has been average on the road this year with a record of 17-16-8.
Consistency has been the name of the game for the Flames this year. While the club had a few three- and four-game winless runs over the course of the season, that was offset by a number of unblemished runs, including a seven-game stretch of perfection in February. The home ice advantage is quite strong for Calgary, as the team has a mark of 26-10-5 on the season.
Philipp Grubauer is expected to get the nod for the Avalanche this evening. During the regular season, he checked in at 18-9-5 with a goals against average of 2.64 and a .917 save percentage. For the Flames, Mike Smith is expected to be between the pipes. He was 23-16-2 this year with a .898 save percentage and 2.72 goals against average.
Nathan MacKinnon is the top offensive threat for Colorado. He scored 41 goals with 58 assists and 99 points to lead the team. Johnny Gaudreau leads the Flames in all of the major statistical categories. He had 36 goals and 63 assists for 99 points during the regular season.
These two clubs hooked up three times during the regular season. The Flames won all three games with the first victory coming on the road, followed by two wins at home.
Colorado was real strong down the stretch with seven wins in its last 10 outings. This is a tough matchup for them against the best team in the conference during the regular season. Calgary has a big home ice advantage, and we like them to get the win on the final game for this evening’s parlay ticket.