2018 NHL Playoffs Conference Finals Predictions
Odds are courtesy of William Hill.
Tampa Bay Lightning (-182) vs. Washington Capitals (+155)
Alex Ovechkin wants to go somewhere he’s never been before — the Stanley Cup Finals. First, the Great 8 and the Washington Capitals will have to get through the top-ranked Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, which begins on Friday night.
“When he came into the league, he was the best player, I mean he’s still the best player,” Bolts star forward Nikita Kucherov said of Ovechkin as the two Russian snipers prepare to do battle.
Canadian sportsbook oddsmakers have the Lightning as the -182 favourites heading into the series, which many believe will need six or seven games to decide a winner. Tampa Bay has home ice in the series and the club will look to take full advantage after posting a regular-season record of 29-10-2 at Amalie Arena.
Expect a high-scoring series when these two Eastern Conference rivals meeting up in the semifinals. Washington has scored 43 goals and is tied with the Winnipeg Jets for most goals in these playoffs. The Capitals and Bolts are averaging 3.58 and 3.50 goals for in the post-season, respectively. Despite getting off to a sluggish start, Washington goalie Brayden Holtby has rebounded nicely and now holds a 2.04 goals against average going into the series versus the Lightning.
Breaking down the head-to-head series between these two clubs over the last 10 matchups, the Capitals have owned the Bolts, posting a 7-1-2 record over that stretch. However, the short-term head-to-head series has tilted in favour of the Lightning, who are 2-1-0 against the Capitals over the last three games.
Bettors can expect a long, gruelling series with Tampa Bay coming out on top in the end.
Eastern Conference Final Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (-182)
Winnipeg Jets (-143) vs. Vegas Knights (+115)
For the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Vegas Knight have proven they are the real deal. Lacking star power, it’s been easy to write off the expansion team, which is 4 wins away from becoming the first team since the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues to reach a Cup final.
However, the Knights will meet their biggest challenge yet as the club prepares to take on the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference Final.
The Jets, who are coming off a huge second-round win over the Nashville Predators, go into the Western Conference Final as the -143 favourites to win the series and advance to the Cup final for the first time in franchise history.
The real story in this series is the fact Vegas has only allowed 17 goals in the first two rounds. That is the fewest among the four teams remaining and it’s been triggered by the play of three-time Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury. The Knights netminder has a 1.53 GAA, .951 save percentage to go along with four shutouts. Fleury can expect to see much more rubber coming his way against the Jets, who have netted 43 goals for in the opening two rounds — tied for the most along with the Capitals.
The Jets have the advantage of getting home ice — a place where the club only lost seven times during the regular season.
Bettors are starting to believe in the Knights and at +115, it is a bargain for a club continuing to make history in its inaugural campaign.
Look for this series to go the distance with the Knights squeaking out a Game 7 victory on the road.
Western Conference Final Pick: Vegas Knights (+115)
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