2018 NHL Playoffs 2nd Round Favorites, Smart Picks & Long Shots

Posted by Eric Williams on Wednesday,April 25, 2018 1:47, EDT in

Are the expansion Vegas Golden Knights the best pick to win it all during the 2018 NHL Playoffs or is it the top-seeded Nashville Predators? Are the two-time defending Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins the ‘smart’ pick to reach their conference finals or is it the Winnipeg Jets?

If you’re looking to find out which teams are offering the best value heading into the second round of postseason action, then consider your ticket punched, thanks to my expert NHL betting analysis on the top favorites, smart picks, and longshots to advance to their respective conference finals.

Let’s get started.

2018 NHL Playoffs 2nd Round Favorites, Smart Picks & Long Shots

2018 NHL Playoffs Odds to Win

  • Nashville Predators: 4/1
  • Tampa Bay Lightning: 17/4
  • Vegas Golden Knights: 5/1
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: 6/1
  • Winnipeg Jets: 6/1
  • Washington Capitals: 13/2
  • Boston Bruins: 17/2
  • San Jose Sharks: 10/1
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: 15/1

The Favorite

  • Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators remain the prohibitive favorite (here), but I’m a bit wary of them winning it all right now after watching them struggle to get past an ordinary Colorado Avalanche squad in the first round. Yes, the Preds put five goals on the board in winning games 1 and 2 against Colorado, but then they gave up five goals in dropping Game 3 and got held to one goal in losing Game 5.

I know Nashville put five more goals on the board in their shutout win in Game 6 to dispatch Colorado and I know they also finished the regular season ranked seventh in scoring (3.2 gpg) and second in goals allowed (2.5 gpg). However, right now I’m thinking the Predators are going to get beat out by one of their Western Conference rivals to fail to even reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Smart Pick

  • Vegas Golden Knights

Look, what else really needs to be said about the expansion Vegas Golden Knights that hasn’t already been said? They’re phenomenal at both ends of the ice in ranking fifth in scoring (3.3 gpg) and eighth in goals allowed (2.7 gpg). They’ve got arguably the best goalie in hockey this season in three-time Stanley Cup-winning veteran Marc-Andre Fleury (2.24 GAA, .927 SVPCT) and they’re super-hungry with a group of veterans that were considered mere expansion fodder by their former franchises.

Las Vegas is among the favorites to win it all at the 2018 NHL Playoffs.

Sure, the Knights don’t have a superstar offensive player on their roster with Fleury clearly being the best player on their roster, but what they lack in star power, they more than make-up for with diversity, sharing the wealth, speed, hustle and feistiness. Centers, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault and wingers David Perron, Reilly Smith, Erik Haula and James Neal may not necessarily be household names – until they score the goal that sends you packing. Make no mistake about it, expansion team or not, the Knights stand as good of a chance of winning this year’s Stanley Cup trophy as anyone.

The Longshot

  • Winnipeg Jets

Go ahead and ‘sleep’ on Winnipeg if you want. I’m going on record right now to say that the Jets can beat any team in hockey and have as good of a shot of hosting this year’s championship trophy as any team still in the postseason. If you didn’t know, Winnipeg ranked a stupendous second in scoring (3.3 gpg) and equally impressive fifth in goals allowed (2.6 gpg).

They’ve got an MVP candidate in Blake Wheeler (91 points), a scoring machine in Patrik Laine (44 goals) and a duo of other players that both scored 60 points this season in Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele. Goalie Connor Helebuyck is also phenomenal, even if he hasn’t gotten the notoriety he quite deserves for his fantastic campaign (2.36 GAA). If you don’t know, Winnipeg is offering some absolutely stupendous value as a 6/1 pick to win it all during the 2018 NHL Playoffs!