betting analyst Frank Doyle looks back on the mayhem of
the NHL’s first round of playoffs and wonders: who’s a good bet for the Stanley
Cup after all this?
been an extraordinary first round to the playoffs. The President’s Trophy
winners and last year’s Western Conference Champions, the Vancouver Canucks,
are gone, having lost to the LA Kings. The ante-post betting favorites, the
Pittsburgh Penguins, are also gone and both those exits, one in the East and
one in the West, throw the playoffs wide open. If ever there was a year when
the Stanley Cup was won by the team that bests seizes the moment, this will be
Chicago and San Jose, the perennial contenders of recent years are also all
gone, fallen to Nashville, Phoenix and St Louis respectively. It’s
extraordinary, and it might not be over yet. At time of writing there are three
Game 7s left, all in the East – Rangers/Senators, Bruins/Capitals and
Panthers/Devils. It’s been a wild first round, and that’s without even
mentioning the fighting and cheap shots.
who’s going to win the thing now? St Louis is the current favorite at +400,
followed by both the Flyers and Predators at +450 and then it’s +700 the field.
St Louis is favorite because the Blues have a Jack Adams Award candidate in
head coach Ken Hitchcock, an impeccable goalie and a style of hockey that’s
ideally built for the intensity of the playoffs.
other advantage that the Blues enjoy is being in the West. Their path to the
Finals is much less rocky than it will be for whoever comes out of the East,
where there is no shortage of battle-hardened teams.
Flyers got through a tough assignment against Pittsburgh but any of their
potential second round opponents could be just as tough. Boston is the
defending Champion, Washington is due a good playoffs, the Rangers were only
pipped for the President’s Trophy, the Devils have legendary goaltending and
can score for fun – there’s no easy out anywhere.
said, talent has to have some say in who wins the playoffs and the defeat of
Pitttsburgh was a statement win for the Flyers. It was also a coming-of-age win
for Claude Giroux. 5’11” and 175 lbs is small for a hockey player but Giroux
has the heart of a lion. He was the star of the series against Pittsburgh and
if Philadelphia goes on to win its first Stanley Cup since the glory days of
the 1970s and the Broad Street Bullies, it’ll be Giroux whom they’ll have to
thank. At +550, it’s certainly worth a bet.