Early NHL Eastern Conference Finals Betting Preview

Posted by Henry Watkins on Monday,May 9, 2016 3:44, EST in

Every year in the playoffs there is a team that makes a surprisingly deep run. No-one would really have picked the Tampa Bay Lightning as a surprise team a couple of months ago, but injuries have hammered them pretty badly, to the point where they have had to play the opening two rounds without top scorer Steven Stamkos. Veteran defenseman Anton Stralman has also been out since March, leaving the Bolts looking like a pretty anemic bunch heading into the playoffs. They have been magnificent, though, and have now pretty comfortably booked their ticket to the Eastern Conference Final after dumping the Florida Panthers and the New York islanders. Their reward for making it back to the Conference Final for a second straight year will be a date with either the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Washington Capitals. Both of those teams present a very tough challenge, but they may well have beaten the stuffing out of each other by the time the next round begins. Let’s take a look at the potential NHL odds match-ups, and at which team will be most likely to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final.

Early NHL Eastern Conference Finals Betting Preview

Why bet on the Lightning to Win the Eastern Conference

You would have got very good odds on the Lightning at the start of this playoff season, and for good reason. Who would have thought they could have gone this far with some of their best players in the treatment room? It is the defense that has stepped up big time for the Bolts, with Ben Bishop standing on his head between the pipes, and Victor Hedman getting the job done at both ends of the ice. The great new for Tampa Bay is that Stamkos and Stralman both look ready to return, but that makes you wonder how that might upset the balance that this team has achieved in their absence. I think it will only make them stronger, and that they will ease both guys back until they shake the rust off. If they can come in and contribute, the Bolts could be heading to their second straight Final.

Who Advances: The Penguins or the Capitals

Heading into the postseason, it was the Capitals who were considered the team to beat. After all, they had just come off a spectacular regular season, and looked very much like a team with no discernible flaws. They may well have met their match in the Pittsburgh Penguins, though, as this team is getting ridiculously hot at just the right time. The Pens blew a chance to close out the series in 5 games, but will now be heading home to try and get the job done on home ice. If the Caps don’t have their defensive A-game on display in Game 6, it will be the Penguins who move on to face the Lightning.

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My Eastern Conference Final Prediction

Tampa Bay will be sitting at home hoping that the Penguins/Capitals series goes to 7, as that would mean more recovery time for their walking wounded. I believe the Penguins will win their series in 6, and I also believe that they look altogether too strong for the Bolts in the Eastern Conference Final.