Could the Columbus Blue Jackets take another step toward reaching the Stanley Cup Finals after pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NHL postseason history? Will the red-hot St. Louis Blues continue the stupendous play that made them the most dangerous team in the league over the second half of the regular season? Could one of the longshot title hopefuls upset the entire playoff apple cart?
Whether you prefer one of the top favorites to win it all, a middle-of-the-pack contender or a flat-out longshot, you’re going to have a great idea of just which teams are looking good in their respective second round playoff series.
With the start of two playoff series already underway and two more getting going tonight, let’s find out who the favorite is, along with my ‘smart’ pick to win it all and top longshot.
NHL Playoffs Second Round Betting Favorites, Smart Picks & Long Shots
Odds to win 2019 Stanley Cup Final
The Second Round gets underway with @tara9191 scoring two goals to lead the @StLouisBlues to victory and @CharlieCoyle_3 netting the tying goal and OT game winner to give the @NHLBruins a 1-0 series lead.Everything you need to know about the #StanleyCup Playoffs last night. ⬇ pic.twitter.com/9KgnBen7yi— NHL (@NHL) April 26, 2019
- Boston Bruins 3/1
- New York Islanders 5/1
- San Jose Sharks 5/1
- St. Louis Blues 6/1
- Columbus Blue Jackets 7/1
- Dallas Stars 7/1
- Colorado Avalanche 15/2
- Carolina Hurricanes 15/2
Boston Bruins (54-27-6-3)
There’s a reason the Boston Bruins are prohibitive favorites right now and it’s because they’ve been stupendous defensively in limiting the opposition to just 2.6 goals per game this season (3rd) while also putting an encouraging 3.1 goals per game on the board to rank 11th in scoring. Boston has an elite goaltender in Tuukka Rask (2.48 GAA, .912 Save pct.) and he’s playing at a high level after playing some decent, but not outstanding, hockey during the regular season. Rask was phenomenal in holding high-scoring Toronto to one goal in two games in the first round while limiting the Leafs to just two goals in three other games. Boston was good on the road this season (22-16-4-2), but great at home (32-11-2-1) and they’ve got a great mix of veteran leadership and youthful exuberance.
My Smart Pick
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have been the most dangerous team in all of hockey over the second half of the regular season and they picked up right where they left off in the second round by beating Dallas 3-2 in their second round opener on Thursday night. St. Louis went a robust 30-15 since the start of the new calendar year and they’ve simply been transformed into a very, very real title contender (favorite?) at this point. The Blues put 3.0 goals per game on the board to rank 15th in scoring during the regular season and they were elite at the defensive end of the ice in limiting their opponents to just 2.7 goals per game to rank fifth in goals allowed.
St. Louis has a trio of of grizzled veterans on their roster in center Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn and right winger Vladimir Tarasenko, not to mention a scorching-hot net-minder in Jordan Binnington that has limited the opposition to an identical two goals in each of his last four appearances. At 6/1 odds, I believe the Blues are offering the best value of any team still in the 2019 NHL playoffs.
My Top Longshot
Columbus Blue JacketsDespite dropping their second round series opener against Boston on Thursday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets remain my top longshot selection to win it all simply because of the way they stunned the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. Not only did Columbus put four goals or more on the board in three of their first round games, but the Blue Jackets also limited the high-scoring Lightning to one goal in a pair of contests, so they’re clearly playing at a high level at both ends of the ice after ranking 12th in scoring (3.1 gpg) and 11th in goals allowed (2.8 gpg) during the regular season. Columbus has a star in team leader Artemi Panarin, some excellent veteran leadership (Cam Atkinson) and solid goaltending. Again, the way Columbus beat Tampa Bay in the first round tells me anything is possible.
Boston Bruins (Atlantic No. 2) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (Wild card No. 2)
Columbus pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history by unceremoniously sweeping the top-seeded, history-tying Tampa Bay Lightning in four stunning games. The Blue Jackets are on fire, having won 11 of their last 12 games and seven straight on the road. Columbus has scored four goals or more seven times over their last 10 games while putting five goals or more on the board five times during the stretch.
“They’re well-rested. They won … four in a row against arguably a favorite going into the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said of Columbus. “They made a lot of changes. They’ve come together. They present a lot of challenges and we’re going to have to be at our best in order to beat them.”
Boston managed to get past Toronto (again) in a seven game thriller, but the Bruins are a modest 6-4 over their last 10 games dating back to the regular season. Of course, there’s the fact that the Bruins used their powerful defense to two goals or less in each of their last half-dozen victories.
“Other than Tampa, I think they’re probably the best team in the National Hockey League,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said of Boston
- Blue Jackets are 7-0 in their last 7 road games.
- Blue Jackets are 5-0 in their last 5 vs. Atlantic.
- Blue Jackets are 5-0 in their last 5 games following a win.
- Blue Jackets are 4-0 in their last 4 playoff games as an underdog.
- Blue Jackets are 6-0 in their last 6 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Bruins are 5-0 in their last 5 vs. Metropolitan.
- Bruins are 6-1 in their last 7 playoff games as a favorite of -201 or greater.
- Bruins are 10-3 in their last 13 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Bruins are 17-6 in their last 23 games as a favorite.
- Bruins are 53-22 in their last 75 home games.
St. Louis Blues (Central No. 3) vs. Dallas Stars (Wild card No. 1)
St. Louis continued their torrid play from the second half of the regular season to get past Winnipeg in six tough games as Jaden Schwartz put up a fantastic natural hat trick in the Blues’ 3-2 win in Game 6 on Saturday to put his team into the second round.
“It’s nice to get a few days to get some rest and to regroup,” the 26-year-old said. “Rest is important this time of year. It’s nice. We haven’t really been practicing much as the year went on. It’s nice to touch up on a few things.”
Dallas Stars got some other-worldly goaltending from Ben Bishop to dispatch Central Division champion Nashville in six games. The Vezina Trophy finalist made a stunning 47 saves in the series finale to finish the series with a 1.90 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. Now, Bishop is set to square off against his hometown team and the franchise that drafted him back in 2005.
“I’ve been trying not to think about it, obviously trying to worry about this series,” the 32-year-old Bishop said. “It kind of gets a smile.”
- Stars are 6-1 in their last 7 games as a road underdog.
- Stars are 4-1 in their last 5 games as an underdog.
- Stars are 9-3 in their last 12 road games.
- Stars are 6-2 in their last 8 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Stars are 11-4 in their last 15 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Stars are 5-2 in their last 7 overall.
- Blues are 5-0 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Blues are 4-0 in their last 4 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Blues are 4-1 in their last 5 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Blues are 8-2 in their last 10 home games.
- Blues are 7-2 in their last 9 vs. a team with a winning record.