2017 NHL Playoffs

So you think you read this article already? Well you have, sort of! I took a look at the article I wrote last year and just made a couple adjustments because pretty much everything remains the same!

In Mid-October the NHL regular season gets underway. For almost 5 months thirty teams play a 82 game schedule just to widdle their field down to 16. Over half the teams get a playoff spot and from what we have seen in the past, a true shot at the Stanley Cup! Unlike the NFL or NBA where the top-seeds seem to rise to the top and win the title, the NHL Playoffs is a true wide-open event. Lets take a look at the past few years, this year’s field, the odds for the Stanley Cup and a couple of picks.

As we mentioned, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have been a real wide open event in the recent past. We have taken a look at the past 11 years of the playoffs and only twice has a #1 seed won the Stanley Cup (2008 Detroit Red Wings & 2013 Anaheim Ducks). Last year the Stanley Cup saw the Midwest #2 Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Pacific #3 San Jose Sharks. The NHL changed their seeding formula 2 years ago. Instead of 1-8 in the two conferences, they seed each of the four division 1-3 and then have 2 other wildcards remaining in the division. The last 3 years the Stanley Cup Champions were division 2 or 3 seeds which would have put them as a 3 to 6 seed in the old conference formula. Prior to the last 2 years, going back 8 more there were two #1 seeds, three #2 seeds, a #3, a #4 and a #8 seed win the Cup. In those eight years, only a #5 seed didn’t make it to the Finals, though 2014 or 2015 may have had a #5 if they had the old formula. The wide open playoffs are not just for the Stanley Cup Finals. The entire playoffs can go anyway. Look at the First Round action. Over the past 11 years the higher seeds are 51-37 (58%) in their series. Lately they are just 21-19 (55%) in the past 5 years.

So lets take a look at this year’s field (seeding) and odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Washington Capitals (M1) +430
Chicago Blackhawks (C1) +450
Pittsburgh Penguins (M2) +850
Minnesota Wild (C2) +875
Columbus Blue Jackets (M3) +1000
Montreal Canadiens (A1) +1250
Anaheim Ducks (P1) +1275
San Jose Sharks (P3) +1325
NY Rangers (WC) +1500
Edmonton Oilers (P2) +1525
Nashville Predators (WC) +2500
Calgary Flames (WC) +2500
Boston Bruins (A3) +2800
Ottawa Senators (A2) +3000
St Louis Blues (C3) +3300
Toronto Maple Leafs (WC) +3300

So now that we have the odds, how about picking a winner. In a situation like the NHL playoffs, I don’t like to take just 1 team but instead narrow down the field and come up with a group of teams that no matter which one wins, we would profit. Last year we listed 6 teams including the Penguins (+900) and the Sharks (+1800) and eventually profited +300 with the Penguins. So who are the teams we are going with this year? Last year the first team we dropped was the #1 overall seed, the Washington Capitals because they weren’t playing well heading into the playoffs, that changes this year. The Caps are 8-2-0 in their last 10 and the next 3 teams in the East have plenty of questions. Even though the Capitals are just +430, I will take them and cut the loses if they win. As I mention the next 3 teams in the East are going to be outs for me. We start with the defending champion Penguins. First of all, the last repeat champ was the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings. Secondly the Pens are just 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. Finally they will more than likely be without D Kris Letang for the entire playoffs and star Evgeni Malkin is less than 100% and may miss some playoff time. Next team out in the East is the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus looked good for most of the year but since March 1st they are just 10-8-2 overall and have lost 6 of their last 7 games. Next up is the #1 seed in the Atlantic Division, the Montreal Canadiens. Just like last year, the Metro was so much better than the Atlantic Division. As a matter of fact if Montreal was in the Metro they would have only been a Wildcard team, one point ahead of their first round opponent, the NY Rangers. So lets switch over to the West. I have much more respect for the field there. A couple teams I will scratch off are the reigning Western Conference Champion San Jose Sharks and the Top seed in the West, the Chicago Blackhawks. Both have struggled down the stretch. The Sharks are 4-8-1 over their last 13 games. They had a 9 point lead in the Pacific Division in early spring and now find themselves on the road to start the playoffs as the #3 seed in the Pacific. They will start the playoffs without high-scoring Logan Couture, who plays his best in the playoffs and veteran Joe Thornton is also less than 100%. The Chicago Blackhawks have been battling with the Minnesota Wild all year for the top spot in the Central Division. The Wild hit a cold spell in February and March and the Blackhawks took the division by 3 points. The thing is, it could have been more but they too have struggled down the stretch, losing 7 of their last 10 including all 4 games in the month of April. So with those 2 out, I have a few others I do like, mainly because they head into the playoffs “ON FIRE”! We start with the #1 seed in the Pacific, the Anaheim Ducks. They have gone 8-0-2 in their last 10 games and are 14-2-3 since the beginning of March. The last game they lost in regulation was a month ago on March 10th versus St Louis. Speaking of the Blues, they too have caught fire at the right time. In their last 10 they are 7-1-2 and 15-2-2 since March 5th. I mentioned before that the Minnesota Wild were one of the best teams in the NHL for the 1st half of the season then fell apart for about a month! They may have righted the ship winning 5 of their last 6 to finish the season. Finally, I will hop on the Young Guns bandwagon with the Edmonton Oilers. NHL point leader Connor McDavid and the rest of his young Oilers are coming together at the right time. They have won 12 of their last 14 games scoring 56 goals (4.0/game) in that period while allowing just 29 (2.1/game). In those 14 games they have only allowed more than 2 goals in 4 of those games behind the NHL Wins leader, goaltender Cam Talbot. So this year, I give you a group of 5 teams (Washington +430, Anaheim +1275, St Louis +3300, Minnesota +875 and Edmonton +1525). I know that we don’t profit if Washington wins it all, but it will get us close to even and any of the other 4 will give us a nice profit.

So what do you think? Who is the team or teams that you are going to roll with? Do you like our picks? We would love to hear your opinions as always. Whether you are a hockey fan or not, if you like sports make sure you take a little time to watch the NHL Playoffs. Of the major sports, in my opinion, the Stanley Cups Playoffs are the best and most exciting. So let’s drop the puck!! Get all the NHL action by purchasing our plays on Freeplays.com, by clicking on Razor Sharp Sports. Also don’t forget our NBA Playoff and MLB action! Plus get free daily winners online there too. Good Luck.

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