Betting The NHL Eastern Conference Finals
The best-of-seven conference finals in this year’s NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway on Thursday night with Game 1 between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins. Boston has been opened as a -150 home favorite for Thursday night’s 8 p.m. start on NBS Sports Network with the total set at 5.5.
In a pair of thrilling Game 7 finales, the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks came out on the right side of one-goal victories to advance to the Western Conference Finals. That best-of-seven series starts in San Jose on Saturday night with Game 1 on NBC at 8 p.m.
Bettors focusing on the matchup in the East can also bet on the opening series price at online sportsbooks with the Bruins set as -160 favorites. The moneyline odds that Carolina moves onto the Stanley Cup Finals from the East are set at +135.
Carolina qualified for the postseason as a wild card team after finishing fourth in the Metro Division with 99 total points. Facing the defending champions in the opening round, the Hurricanes outlasted Washington in seven games with an incredible 4-3 road victory in the series clincher as +135 underdogs. The total went OVER in five of the seven games.
They opened the next series against the New York Islanders with a 1-0 road victory as +125 underdogs on their way to an impressive four-game sweep. Carolina outscored New York 13-5 in that series.
Boston was one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the second half of the regular season to finish second in the Atlantic Division behind Tampa Bay with a total of 107 points. This was tied with Calgary for the second-most points in the NHL.
The Bruins needed all seven games to get past the division rival Toronto Maple Leafs to advance to the conference semifinals. Down 3-2 in that series, Boston outscored the Leafs 9-3 in those final two games. Going down 2-1 in their next series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Bruins won the next three games by a combined score of 11-4 to win that series in six games.
Boston had the 2-1 edge against Carolina in the regular season with a split on the road in the first two meetings followed by a 4-3 victory at home on March 5 as a -130 favorite. The total went OVER in the last two meetings. The Bruins have the slight 6-4 edge in their last 10 games against the Hurricanes with the total going OVER or ending as a PUSH in seven of the last eight meetings.
Left winger Teuvo Teravainien led the way in goals for Carolina with six in 11 playoffs games. Boston got a huge effort from left wingers’ David Pastrnak (6) and Brad Marchand (6) lighting the lamp in the team’s first 13 games this postseason.
This series could come down to the play each team’s starting goalie. Carolina’s Petr Mrazek missed the final two games of the Islanders’ series with a groin injury. Through nine previous playoff games, he posted a 2.22 goals-against average with a .913 save percentage. His backup is Curtis McElhinney and he looked sharp in his two starts against New York.
Veteran goaltender Tuukka Rask deserves quite a bit of credit for Boston’s success in the playoffs. He has gone the distance between the pipes with a 2.02 GAA and a save percentage of .938 which was the best of any goalie this postseason.
You have to give all the credit in the world to what Carolina has been able to accomplish, but my pick in this matchup is Boston in six games. The Bruins get the slight edge in current form with a huge edge in experience on a much bigger stage in the conference finals.