After thinking that we may not have hockey at all in 2013, fans and bettors will get the chance to revel in the excitement of the NHL playoffs once again starting today. The league is offering up a three-game slate of games ones today, which includes some of the most anticipated match-ups of the postseason. Check out who we like in game one with our picks below!
#8 Minnesota Wild +1.5 at #1 Chicago Blackhawks -1.5
Though the Wild struggled at times this season, they are still a dangerous team with an extremely talented roster. However, they’ll be going up against the team that could do no wrong during the regular season – the Chicago Blackhawks, who finished the season with the most points.
The Blackhawks dominated most opponents this season, including the Wild, going 2-0-1 against Minnesota this season, but they only won their two games by a combined three goals, so there’s a reasonable expectation that this will be a close game as well, especially considering it’s a playoff game.
I like Chicago to win this one, but look for the Wild to take it down to the wire and cover +1.5 today.
#5 Los Angeles Kings +1.5 at #4 St. Louis Blues -1.5
The Kings are in better starting position as the five seed then they were when they won the Stanley Cup last year (eight seed), but they’ll be the underdog again in their opening series against one of the hottest teams in the league.
The Blues finished the season strong, winning 12 of their final 15 games, but they did it with tough defense and tight goaltending, while putting the puck in the net enough to get the job done.
However, the Kings have dominated the series recently, winning the last eight meetings, including the a second round playoff sweep of the Blues last season. The Blues might be playing well right now, but the Kings have plenty of playoff experience and a knack for beating St. Louis, so take L.A. to cover +1.5 and win this one outright.
#7 Detroit Red Wings +1.5 at #2 Anaheim Ducks -1.5
The Ducks have been flying under the radar for much of the season and they’ve had an incredible amount of success against almost every opponent, but one team they struggled with was the perennial playoff power – the Detroit Red Wings.
The Red Wings got the better of the Ducks this season, winning two of three meetings, but they weren’t as consistently strong as they have been in years past, ranking just 19th in goal scoring.
Still, I like the postseason-tested Red Wings here in game one. They may not win the series, but the it may take the Ducks a couple more games to figure them out. Take Detroit to cover +1.5.