The next round of the playoffs are underway in the NHL and I’m here with my updated 2014 Stanley Cup expert picks on each semi final series. The Bruins are still the outright favorite on the board, and they’re certainly the most logical wager to make. However, there’s a team in California that’s brewing something worth keeping track of.
Updated 2014 Stanley Cup Expert Picks
Montreal Canadiens (+1200) vs. Boston Bruins (+275)
The Canadiens and Bruins have waged war longer than almost any other pair of franchises in the four majors. This is their 35th battle since they first met in the post season 86 years ago and while Montreal owns the post season series between the two, it’s Boston that has demolished them in recent years. I wouldn’t stretch myself too far in this series. The violent history between the two fuels a desire for this series to go seven, but I have a very strong feeling that the Bruins will close it out in five games. Obviously anything can happen, especially in the NHL playoffs, but there’s no reason to back off of Boston in my updated 2014 Stanley Cup playoff picks.
First Game: Thursday, May 1st at 7:30pm EST
New York Rangers (+800) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (+600)
The other Eastern Conference semi-final may not have the legacy that the other one does, but this is certainly a battle of the stars. Between Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Evgeni Malkin, Brad Richards, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc-André Fleury and et al, you have a collection of hockey heroes taking center stage in this series that should get any fan pumped beyond all hell.
The odds here are relatively balanced. The 6-to-1 odds on Pittsburgh compared to the 8-to-1 number on the Rangers has more to do with public appeal than anything. People in New York love the Rangers, but everyone everywhere thinks Crosby can carry a series like LeBron does in the NBA. That’s not how I approach my updated 2014 Stanley Cup expert picks, however, and I don’t think either of these teams gets past the winner of the Bruins-Canadiens series.
Still, the Rangers and Penguins are likely to go seven simply because there are so many big time players on both sides of the puck that could impact a game and turn everything around. Between Pittsburgh’s atrociously sloppy defense and New York’s inconsistency, I’d say that the seams are there for both sides. Get ready for a wild, wild ride.
First Game: Friday, May 2nd at 7pm EST
Chicago Blackhawks (+400) vs. Minnesota Wild (+1000)
I mentioned at the onset of the playoffs that Minnesota was a cagey, long term bet, and though they stand as the longest shot in the Western Conference, how they responded against an excellent Avalanche team in the first round says a lot about their character. The major problem with backing Minnesota in updated 2014 Stanley Cup expert picks is that their goalie situation is still up in the air. Kuemper left Game 7 early and Bryzgalov has been anything but sturdy.
Playing against the Chicago Blackhawks, who are in full bore playoff mode, also makes them a less enviable pick. There’s a lot more fight in the Wild than people assume, but Chicago can overwhelm them with their physical style of play. I’m taking Chicago in 5 as they continue to improve throughout the playoffs.
By the way, this whole playoffs has reeked of a Boston-Chicago Stanley Cup Final. That is of course unless…
First Game: Friday, May 2nd at 9:30pm EST
Anaheim Ducks (+700) vs. Los Angeles Kings (+800)
The Kings feel like crashing the party. There is something about the post season that brings out the absolute best in this franchise. Things could certainly go awry against Anaheim, but after screaming back against an always talented San Jose squad, there’s no way I can lean against these Kings. Their 8-to-1 odds are my favorite on the board, which is why I’m hyping them as my best bet in updated 2014 Stanley Cup expert picks.
First Game: Saturday, May 3rd at 8pm EST