NHL: BRUINS BEST VALUE IN THE EAST?
After a surprising regular season in which many experts didn’t even predict the Boston Bruins would make the playoffs, the B’s find themselves as the top seed in the Eastern Conference and second in the NHL as they enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But, as the +150 favorite to win the Eastern Conference, are the Bruins the best value? Boston is matched against its Original Six rival, the Montreal Canadiens, a team Boston has struggled against in recent playoff appearances.
In three of Boston’s last four playoff visits, it was the Canadiens who ended their season. That includes last season when Montreal ousted Boston in seven games.
The roles are reversed now however, as the Bruins enter as the #1 seed and the Habs enter as the #8 seed, a complete reversal from last season.
Many believe that last year’s series against Montreal could be described as a turning point for a young Bruins team. The Habs had dominated Boston for the past two seasons, winning all eight regular season matchups last year and jumping out to a 3-1 series lead before hanging on to win in Game 7.
The Bruins built a lot of confidence in those seven games, which translated into a terrific regular season in which they amassed 53 wins to just 19 losses and just one point behind the San Jose Sharks for the President’s Trophy.
The second-seeded Washington Capitals provide plenty of value at +275 while the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins are listed at +350 each.
Those looking for a long-shot may want to look at the Philadelphia Flyers. Matched up against their cross-state rivals from Pittsburgh, the Flyers are listed at +1200 odds to win the East and their grinding, physical style of play is suited for a long playoff series.
Philly made it all the way to the Conference Finals last year before losing to Pittsburgh in five games but the Penguins are vulnerable and the Flyers know what it takes to get under the skin of stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Unlike last season’s playoffs, the Flyers enter without injury woes and a healthy squad could make some noise.
At a Glance – First Round Series Prices:
Montreal Canadiens (+300) vs. Boston Bruins (-400)
Series Note: After a dominating couple of years by Montreal, Boston has turned the tide and won the final five meetings of the 2008-09 regular season.
New York Rangers (+220) vs. Washington Capitals (-300)
Series Note: Washington won three of four games this season but all games were close; one going to a shootout, another settled in overtime, one settled by one goal and the fourth game closed by an empty net goal.
Carolina Hurricanes (+115) vs. New Jersey Devils (-145)
Series Note: This is the fourth playoff meeting between these two teams since 2001, with Carolina holding a 2-1 series edge. Carolina won three of four meetings this season.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Series Note: Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia in five games in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. Pittsburgh won four of six games this season.