Ahead of Tuesday’s NHL Playoff games, the No. 1 Washington Capitals are the only perfect team in the Eastern Conference, leading their series against the No.4 Philadelphia Flyers, 3-0. Meanwhile, the No. 4 New York Islanders lead the No. 1 Florida Panthers 2-1 after three games, the No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning lead the No. 3 Detroit Red Wings 2-1, and the No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins are tied at one game apiece after two encounters. With a lot of action still to come in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, let’s take a spin through the Round 1 games, complete with free NHL betting picks and predictions.
2016 NHL Eastern Conference Round 1 Playoffs Odds Predictions
— #StanleyCup Playoffs (@NHL) April 19, 2016
Washington Capitals Defeat Philadelphia Flyers in Four Games
To no one’s surprise, the Caps have been absolute class against the Flyers, outscoring them 12-2 in their three games so far, so it shouldn’t be a big deal to claim a fourth win when the two meet on Wednesday. Key to Washington’s success is the fact that they have one the best goalies in the league in Braden Holtby, who owns the league’s best playoff save percentage among active goalies with 25 or more games played. Meanwhile, Washington’s all-rounded attack—No. 1 at 5-on-5, No. 2-ranked offense in the league, No. 5 in power-play percentage and No. 3 in penalty killing this season—has had no problems in front of goal; something that should see the Caps win this series and make a deep run in the Eastern Conference playoffs as the favorite team.
Pittsburgh Penguins Defeat New York Rangers in Six Games
After the Penguins defeated the Rangers 5-2 in Game 1, the New Yorkers evened the series at 1-1 with a 4-2 win in Game 2. As things stand, these two teams will need at least three more games to decide who progresses to the next stage. Outsmarting Vezina Trophy favorite in Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers won’t be easy, but the Pens have enough depth in the front lines, which should give them better edge. Not to mention, The Penguins have superstar center Evgeni Malkin back in the fold, so although integrating him into their playoff team won’t be easy, head coach Mike Sullivan is more than capable of figuring out things and leading the Pens past the Rangers in six or seven games.
Detroit Red Wings Defeat Tampa Bay Lightning in Seven Games
After winning the first two games of this series, the Lightning dropped Game 3 in a 2-0 shutout by the Red Wings, meaning Detroit is back in contention for this series. Usually, I’d easily side with the Lightning to win this, but with No. 1 center Steven Stamkos still rehabbing from surgery and Tampa Bay’s best defensive defenseman Anton Stralman banged up, I suspect the Red Wings could fly away with this one. Yes, Detroit is a poor 5-on-5 team and this squad barely squeaked into the playoffs (thanks to Boston’s collapse on the final day of the regular season); but then again, this is a Red Wings team that has tons of firepower in the forward line and everyone is playing with house money for Pavel Datsyuk’s swansong season. Combine that with Tampa Bay’s health issues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Detroit turns this series on its head with a thrilling upset that will go all the way to Game 7.
New York Islanders Defeat Florida Panthers in Seven Games
Besides their ability to shoot hot at even strength (second-highest in the league) and solid goaltending of Roberto Luongo, the Panthers don’t have much going on for them in the playoffs. The Islanders, on the other hand, are an experienced ground with a stellar blue line, the third-best penalty kill in the league and an offense that is ranked 11th in scoring. This, in essence, is the reason the Islanders have already eked out two close wins over the Panthers, including the 5-4 OT win in Game 3. No doubt, the young Panthers will be a tough out here, but the experienced Islanders should eventually see out the series in six or seven games.