National Hockey League playoff odds 2017: Capitals betting favorites atop Eastern Conference over Penguins

His 1,506 total minutes were the fewest he's played in an 82-game season and yet he played in all of them. "It's like the Super Bowl every day". Led by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel, the Penguins have a dynamic roster that is equally as battle-tested as they are experienced. Weber hasn't played since April 1, sitting out to give a lower-body injury time to heal, but he was on the ice with the Canadiens on Monday and appears to be ready to face the New York Rangers at home tonight. Boston is likely to be without starting defensemen Torrey Krug and Brandon Carlo for the start of the series.

The biggest betting mismatch involves Ovechkin and the Capitals (-310) against the wild-card Toronto Maple Leafs (+260) in a Metropolitan semifinal.

The Blackhawks are listed at +180 to win the Western Conference.

Both Minnesota and St. Louis are perennial playoff qualifiers, likewise, both teams are hoping for a breakthrough this spring after years of underwhelming results.

The bars will be packed, the fans jacked and so will be Canada's most prominent TV hockey executive Scott Moore. The playoffs feature 16 teams fighting for the chance to hoist the Stanley Cup - not a representative cup that gets manufactured each season, the same cup raised since 1893.

The Flames are loaded with young talent, but this series rests heavily on Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan Kesler and the rest of Anaheim's veteran core, which simply hasn't been able to finish: The Ducks have lost a Game 7 at home in each of the last four postseasons. I think the Edmonton Oilers are the best team in that section of the draw, but there's inexperience when it comes to nearly everyone.

It's often hard to look passed the favorites at first when trying to predict who will make the finals of a sporting event.

The unfortunate reality of the aforementioned "Group of Death" is that the National Hockey League will lose at least one of its top four teams in the first round. In past years, the Capitals' Achilles' heel has been their inconsistent defense, but this year's squad is already breaking that negative trend, having allowed the least number of goals (177) this season. And even Toronto and Calgary aren't expected to roll over.

"Internally, my IQ has gone up 20 points", Moore said. "I think Pittsburgh's proved that, a lot of previous winners - L.A".

What's compelling this year is the emergence of MVP candidate McDavid and Matthews, the rookie No. 1 draft pick.

The Blackhawks wound up winning the series in six games on the way to the first of three Stanley Cups in six seasons.

Johnny Gaudreau will make some plays and the 3M line will do its thing but I don't think the Flames have enough depth to take out the Ducks. He had to be helped from the ice after Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov fell on the back of his leg in a corner behind the Chicago goal. Was that great for the U.S.? But I do I think the Oilers get passed San Jose. The Sharks will also have to face a speedy team with a less than healthy Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. It no doubt helped to have Canadian Olympic team and former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock running the bench. "Toronto's National Hockey League team is that nerdy, awkward goofball that hasn't scored for 50 years". However, don't let that fool you; this is a Pittsburgh team that is heavily depleted heading into this year's postseason. Chicago is a -190 favorite to win the series. Minnesota struggled with top teams down the stretch, and it will cost them in the first round.

"To have a year like last year where none of the teams were in, it was unusual and odd", said Buffalo Sabres forward Tyler Ennis, an Edmonton native.

  • Julie Sanders