There is just one thing better than hockey in April, and that is hockey in May. The 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally upon us, and of course, that means we have some great betting opportunities to attack.
We have eight first-round matchups and some great storylines to follow. Will Toronto finally make it past the first round? How long is Andersen out for Carolina? Jarry for Pittsburgh? Does Colorado deserve to be the betting favorite?
Regardless of what happens, if history has taught us anything, It is that this is one of the best and most entertaining tournaments in all of sports. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, I have my two best future bets below for the first round.
Follow me on Twitter to get all of my plays on days without full write-ups.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Bet $10, Win $200 if Either Team Scores a Goal >>
Boston Bruins Round 1 Winner (-105) – 1.5 units
As the Eastern Conference’s first wild card seed, the Boston Bruins will take on the Metropolitan Division champions in the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina has dominated Boston this season as they have won all three meetings by an average margin of five goals.
However, all three of those wins were with starting goaltender Frederik Andersen between the pipes. Andersen has already been ruled out for Game 1 and could miss more time, a crippling blow to Carolina.
A likely Vezina Trophy finalist, Andersen’s absence can not be understated for a series where the margin for error was already pretty slim. Despite this season’s results head-to-head, these two teams are extremely even.
This season, Carolina ranks second in the league in five-on-five expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF) and 14th in five-on-five expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA). Meanwhile, Boston ranks 11th in the league in five-on-five expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF) and first in five-on-five expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA).
With these metrics being so close, the two other variables we must look at are experience and goaltending. Carolina is a much younger team than Boston, as the Bruins have several members who have already hoisted the Cup.
Without Andersen, Carolina will be forced to turn to Antti Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov. Raanta is a veteran who has struggled to fill in for Andersen, posting a 0.895 save percentage over seven appearances in April.
Meanwhile, Kochetkov is a rookie who has just two career starts under his belt. It is one thing to find your footing in the best league in the world during the regular season, It is an entirely different beast to be thrown into the mix in the playoffs against an experienced and talented Bruins team.
I had this series at a coin flip with a lean towards Carolina before the Andersen injury. Without Andersen, even if It is only a few games, I think the Bruins close this out in six games or fewer.
Los Angeles Kings Round 1 Winner (+200) – 1.25 units
We have a Pacific Division matchup this series as the second-seed Edmonton Oilers square off against the three-seed Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have been one of my favorite teams to bet on all season as they have been disrespected all year long (50-32 ATS) and are yet again not given their proper recognition with this ridiculous round one price.
Do not get me wrong, this is probably going to be a great series that goes six or seven games with Edmonton definitely deserving of being the favorite. However, the Kings being anything above +150 is a must-bet situation in what I believe to be a poor line made by oddsmakers to counter the public as they will definitely back McDavid and company.
While there is no doubt that Connor McDavid is a top-two player in the world, the Oilers have only won one playoff series with him on the roster. That playoff series occurred five years ago, and they have not won a single series since.
This is obviously not due to McDavid, but rather, Edmonton’s failure to build a playoff-style team around him. Hockey in May is different as It is slower, more physically, and many less penalties.
A majority of Edmonton’s success is built on special teams and the individual talent of McDavid and Draisaitl, which is not a recipe for success in the playoffs. The Kings, on the other hand, are built for this tournament as they are experienced and physical, which will cause the Oilers a lot of frustration.
Los Angeles also has the edge in the metrics, as they rank just one spot lower than Edmonton in five-on-five expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF) but 11 spots higher in five-on-five expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA). Los Angeles’ goaltender, Jonathan Quick, is a two-time Cup winner and enters this postseason playing his best hockey in years.
This season, Quick ranks third amongst starting goaltenders in five-on-five goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx). Quick has now won each of his last five starts, boasting an outstanding 0.938 save percentage over that stretch.
I also am throwing a sprinkle (0.25 units) on the Kings to win this series by three or more games at +750. That is just way too large of a number going against an Edmonton team that got swept last year by the Winnipeg Jets.
Best of luck!
Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.
Tony Sartori is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Tony, check out his archive and follow him @tony_sartori.
The post NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 1 Best Future Bets (2022) appeared first on BettingPros.