Western Conference Picks
NHL Eastern Conference
Round Robin Tournament
Now that we've taken a look at the round robin tournament in the Western Conference, it's time to shift over to the Eastern Conference side of things. Three challengers are looking to supplant Boston from what would have likely been a comfortable top seed in the conference and likely top seed in the entire league. The Bruins now have three games to defend that vantage point they worked so hard to get during the year, as without question Boston is one of those teams that got dealt a hand worth griping about in this restart.
Everyone's in the same situation though and if Boston was as good as their place in the standings suggests, getting sharp quick and posting at least a 2-1 straight up (SU) record in the clubhouse should be rather attainable.
Yet, you can bet on it!
Round Robin Schedule
There will be a total of six games played at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto over a week from Sunday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Aug. 9. None of the four teams will play any games on zero days rest.
- Sunday, Aug. 2: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins
- Monday, Aug. 3: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
- Wednesday, Aug. 5: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins
- Thursday, Aug. 6: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
- Saturday, Aug. 8: Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals
- Sunday, Aug. 9: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
NHL East Round Robin
Boston Bruins: 44-14-5-7
Price to win #1 Seed: +140
- 6.1 total goals scored on average in 10 games played against other three teams
- 3-7 SU in those 10 games overall; 0-4 SU record in OT/SO games
- Best foe to face: Take your pick, only one win vs each opponent
- Worst foe to face: Take your pick, only one win vs each opponent
David Pastrnak is coming off a tremendous season by scoring 48 goals for the Boston Bruins. (AP)
Not only do the Bruins have to essentially scrap what would have been them likely cruising to a President's Trophy, but they've got to do it in a three-game round robin format against three foes that did get the better of Boston throughout the year. Sure, all the tiebreaker advantages will be on their side, but nobody's got a bigger gripe about losing slight advantages they worked all season to earn then the Boston Bruins do.
How or if that ends up affecting Boston's final seeding for the season will be determined, but the idea that Boston's got the biggest chip on their shoulder in this tournament is a bit problematic from a betting standpoint.
Boston could come out and say screw it to the league from the outset, run away with their three contests and leave no doubt they were the best team. The +140 price tag definitely reflects that being a possibility that seems quite probable. Yet, should the Bruins slip up and lose that first game, then they could just as easily say screw it to the league, settle for whatever seed they get in the end, and be brash and bold about their chances of running through the competition.
It makes Boston rather un-betable for this #1 seed prop, even if it's rather probable it turns out that way. You can't dominate the majority of the league and not have some random luck – four OT losses combined to these three teams – start to land in your favor. Bruins fans would prefer they save up all the good fortune they can to cash in as late in the playoffs as they can, and that's probably the better way to look at supporting Boston in the futures market – in series long wagers where it's going to be hard for one team to knock them off four times.
Tampa Bay Lightning: 43-21-5-1
Price to win #1 Seed: +185
- 5.55 total goals scored on average in 9 games played against other three teams
- 6-3 SU in those 12 games overall; 1-1 SU record in OT/SO games
- Best foe to face: Went 5-1 SU vs Boston (3-1) and Philly (2-0) combined
- Worst foe to face: Went 1-2 SU vs Washington; one loss in OT
The Tampa Bay Lightning look to rebound from last season's surprising first round playoff exit. (AP)
If you're a bettor that is looking hard at the head-to-head history these teams put up during the regular season, chances are Tampa Bay is the selection that's easy to land on for this #1 seed wager. Had the Lightning won an OT game against Washington they'd be at least .500 against all three opponents in this tournament, and typically did so by closing ranks defensively and keeping these better teams off the score sheet.
For all the attention the big names get offensively for Tampa Bay, that 5.5 goals/game number really sticks out to their general belief against the better teams in the league. Tampa wants to shut things down defensively first and foremost and go from there in these games. They know they can hang with anyone in a high scoring affair, and against sub-par teams, Tampa knows they'll win more then their share of games like that on just offensive talent alone.
But it's against these better teams – granted Philly wasn't really considered a Top 4 team all year – where Tampa finds the most success by being sound defensively. The Lightning only put up 3 goals/game in those nine contests against these teams themselves, which is far below their yearly total of the 3.47 they've got to lead the league, so the whole style of game seems to buck general perception. Perhaps that's something to consider for the individual game lines – like going 'under' totals – and it may help them ultimately earn this top seed.
You know one thing, that Tampa Bay core has got to be alright with getting a chance to finish this year in whatever fashion they have to after their unceremonious exit in Round 1 of last year's playoffs.
Whether or not that means they decide they need to push for the #1 seed or perhaps really don't care where they land is the ultimate question, but you know one thing, their head-to-head resume against the other three teams involved stands at the top of the heap this season.
Washington Capitals: 41-20-5-3
Price to win #1 Seed: +550
- 6.2 total goals scored on average in 10 games played against other three teams
- 5-5 SU in those 10 games overall; 3-0 SU record in OT/SO games
- Best foe to face: Went 2-1 SU vs Boston and Tampa Bay
- Worst foe to face: Went 1-3 SU vs Philadelphia
Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals are seeking their second Stanley Cup title in three seasons. (AP)
Washington's profile in the head-to-head arena looks quite similar to Boston's from earlier. The winning record just really isn't there for the Caps in that history, as they got awfully lucky in games that needed extra time. Chances are in the long run that OT luck might diminish but the overall luck for the Caps may grow, considering they still are a team that's a division leader and were neck and neck with Tampa Bay in the standings.
Yet, the odds suggest Washington's got next to nothing in terms of a shot to get the #1 seed. Sure, it would likely take a 3-0 run for Washington to earn that top spot, but beat Tampa Bay, and catch an angry Boston team playing sloppy, and all that's left is to beat the division rival that Washington knows got the better of them earlier in the year. Hell of a lot easier to write out than actually accomplish, but for those bettors that never shy away from a few flyer bets, there are always worse bets out there then taking the Caps to win the top seed and needing to go 3-0 SU to do so.
Philadelphia Flyers: 41-21-2-5
Price to win #1 Seed: +550
- 5.66 total goals scored on average in 9 games played against other three teams
- 5-4 SU in those 9 games overall; 2-1 SU record in SO games
- Best foe to face: Went 3-1 SU vs Washington
- Worst foe to face: Went 0-2 SU vs Tampa Bay
The Flyers put together a terrific season in the Metropolitan division behind veteran left winger Claude Giroux. (AP)
The Philadelphia Flyers were living it up as the darlings of the betting market for the final six weeks before the season stoppage. Philly was surging up the standings with win after win and ultimately played themselves into this Top 4 spot at exactly the right time. But I don't think any sort of momentum can survive three months of inactivity, so which Philadelphia Flyers team will we see in round robin play?
As great as those final six weeks or so of the year were for Philly, bettors simply have to get past using that run as the biggest snapshot of this team's past. Philadelphia was a mediocre team for the first few months and sure they got hot late, but overall, they may actually be a little overvalued in this postseason.
That's not necessarily the case here with the #1 seed prop as they'll need to run the table in all likelihood to earn that top spot, but no matter what number seed the Flyers end up with, it will still be perceived better than their opponent in the next round. I'm not entire sure if six weeks of very good hockey warrant the types of prices we may see if that's the case.
The odds suggest that this race for the #1 seed is nothing but a two-horse race between the Bruins and Lightning and it's hard to disagree. The overall resume suggests taking the +185 with Tampa to get it done would be the way to go, but at the same time, Boston's just as strong of a team and could just as easily have things bounce their way from the outset. One of those two teams does win it, and forced to make a selection it would be Tampa based on the payout offered back.
But betting the head-to-head game between Boston and Tampa as a way to decide on the eventual winner may be the better way to go. It's at a neutral site, with no fans, meaning the line is going to be as pick'em as they get. At least that way, you can eliminate the other variables of potential outcomes for the #1 spot like Washington or Philly running the table.
Not a specific prop that brings a strong opinion either way, especially when this round robin should be viewed in a similar light as the West in that gaining information from these meetings will help down the road should these teams meet in a seven-game series. But a selection has to me made.
Best Bet: Tampa Bay +185
1) Tampa Bay
NHL East Playoff Seeds