In case you need another way to make the most exciting postseason of the four major North American sports any more appealing, the Stanley Cup Playoffs provides some of the most difficult gambling scenarios out there.
That’s what legitimate parity does as almost any team regardless of seeding can win on any given playoff night. You can’t necessarily say the same about the playoffs in the NBA, MLB, or NFL.
Monday night provides a slate of three playoff games that run the gamut of an easier call to one that is much, much more difficult.
Here is what’s on tap around the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday and who we think you should go with on the Moneyline:
Boston Bruins (-125) at Washington Capitals (+105)
The Bruins are favored to know this heavy-hitting Eastern Division first-round series up after falling in overtime to the host Capitals on Saturday night, especially with the uncertainty of the Capitals’ goaltending situation. After Vitek Vanicek went down with what looked like a groin injury in Game 1, the 39-year Craig Anderson did just enough to keep Washington afloat — though there were plenty of nervy moments.
If Vanicek is unable to go, one would assume that Boston’s firepower that now includes Taylor Hall joining the likes of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand will have plenty of juice to steal one in Washington. It all depends on if they’ll be able to shirk off the physical play of the Capitals because they don’t have the physicality to keep up with them if it becomes a rock fight. Still, the Bruins are too good to go quietly here.
The pick: Boston
Nashville Predators (+165) at Carolina Hurricanes (-190)
A team that simply isn’t being talked about enough around the NHL is the Carolina Hurricanes, who won the Central Division this year behind an overwhelming offensive attack.
Sebastian Aho continues his emergence to stardom with 57 points in 56 games behind 24 goals and 33 assists. Meanwhile, Nino Niederreiter added 20 as a somewhat unlikely No. 2 goalscorer down in Carolina.
Their defense was one of the top units in the league as well, which figures to be far too much for the Predators to overcome this series — though their late push just to get to the playoffs was an admirable one with seven wins in their final 10 games.
The pick: Carolina
St. Louis Blues (+215) at Colorado Avalanche (-260)
The Blues couldn’t have headed to the playoffs on much of a higher note as they beat down the Minnesota Wild 7-3, but they’re running into a buzzsaw that is one of the Stanley Cup favorites — the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche lost just 12 times in regulation during the regular season with a roster that is as complete as any you’ll find around the league.
All the attention will deservedly be put on the Avalanche’s top trio of Mikko Rantanen (66 points), Nathan MacKinnon (65 points), and Gabriel Landeskog (52 points), which combined for 183 points in just 56 games.
The pick: Avalanche