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Upsets Abound in First Games of NHL Playoffs, More Games Tonight

One day of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is down, and many more are to come. On the first day of the NHL playoffs, four games were played and four upsets, according to the odds set, had taken place.

Of the four contests, three were won by lower ranked seeds. With two from each division, hockey fans were treated to two nationally aired games, including last year’s contestants from the Stanley Cup Finals in two separate series.

The Eastern Conference nationally aired game took place between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators. The Senators managed to pull through a 5 to 4 victory, besting the Penguins despite being the underdog.

The aftermath of the contest left many looking at Marc-Andre Fleury. His .808 save percentage fell short of his NHL total of .916. Though Fleury is known for his comebacks, it is widely hypothesized that he will not be starting in upcoming matches.

Penalty kill was problematic for the Penguins, both for and against.

Malkin was the main goal scorer for the Penguins, while each point was spread around for the Senators. Regin, Neil, Kelly, Karlsson, and Ruutu all scored for the Senators.

The money line odds on this game were -214 for Pittsburgh and +196 for Ottawa, indicating the Penguins were clear favorites, yet the final score disproved that. The defending Stanley Cup champions are now down 1 – 0 in their opening round series.

The New Jersey Devils also took the fall last night despite their superior odds against the Philadelphia Flyers. Sporting a higher seed and statistical superiority, the Devils were expected to win this match, according to oddsmakers.

Mike Richards was the point leader in the game, holding both one goal and one assist in the 2-1 victory over the Devils. Chris Pronger also managed a goal in the contest.

For the Devils, Travis Zajac managed to pull down a goal. Despite having ten more shots on goal than the Flyers, the Devils could not penetrate Brian Boucher’s save percentage of .958 for the event. The Devils now hold the slim 1 – 0  series lead.

The Western Conference also held unexpected results.

Colorado’s victory over the San Jose Sharks may just have been a fluke, but one can’t help but be reminded of San Jose’s early exit from the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the seemingly over-matched Anaheim Ducks.

The Avalanche took last night’s game, 2 to 1, against the team favored to win the NHL Western Conference. In doing so, Avalanche bettors cleaned up on +204 money line compared to -223 that San Jose bettors were getting.

The defeat of San Jose in their own rink by the Colorado Avalanche could mean one of two things – either the Avalanche walked away with the win by a fluke, or San Jose is going down the same road they followed in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even though the game was tight throughout, San Jose could not pull together an offensive break capable of penetrating Colorado’s defenses until the third period, when the Sharks knotted the game at 1 goal a piece. The 1 to 1 score kept the Sharks in the game until a late goal with just 49.3 seconds remaining sealed the deal for the Avalanche.

Overall, San Jose managed just 26 shots on goal. Colorado’s Craig Anderson boasted a game wide .962 save percentage, locking the Sharks down until 7:59 into the third period. Anderson would rebound from the surrendered goal nicely by not allowing another goal, giving his team the chance to win with just one shot. Colorado leads the series 1 – 0.

In other action, the Detroit Red Wings opened the playoffs against the Phoenix Coyotes. While both teams had relatively close odds, the Coyotes held the advantage with the home ice, and on the scoreboard at the final horn.

The game opened optimistically for the Red Wings, scoring twice in the first period. Holmstrom and Lidstrom managed the first two goals for the Wings, however the Coyotes managed to hang around the first period, scoring once to cut the deficit to just one goal.

In the second period, the Coyotes brought themselves a step further with a game tying goal from Wolski. When Morris took a third point in the third period, the Coyotes would be up for good, winning the game 3 to 2. Phoenix now leads the series 1 – 0.

The average odds on this match up were very close with Detroit clinging to a -114, while the Coyotes were just a slight underdog at +105.

The second day of the playoffs will bring the Montreal Canadiens to visit the Washington Capitals, the Boston Bruins to the Buffalo Sabres, and the Los Angeles Kings to the Vancouver Canucks.

Most of the attention will be on the Eastern Conference, in particular on the Washington Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin.

Slated to begin at 7:05PM EST, the puck will drop in the first game of this Eastern Conference, and the Capitals will be looking to capitalize on their home ice. Headed by Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals are favored by a wide margin of -265 to +225, according to BetUS.

Montreal’s chances to win will rest heavily on their defense which means keeping Ovechkin down as much as possible. For the regular season, Montreal’s top scorer’s capabilities did not approach that of Ovechkin’s, meaning the Canadiens’ defense will have to perform in order to give their offense a chance.

The Sabres are currently favored over the Bruins by a large margin, toting -160 to the +140 money line on Boston. Over/Under for the game has been set at 5 goals, with the under being favored at -125 compared to +105 for the over. This will be the opening game of this series and the game will be played in Buffalo starting at approximately 7:05PM EST.

In the final contest of the night, the Vancouver Canucks have been placed as the -190 favorite against the Los Angeles Kings who are at +160 for the straight up win. NHL Betting Lines for the over/under show that oddsmakers expect under 5 1/2 goals, as the under pays -130 compared to +110 for the over. The first game in this Western Conference series is expected to begin at 10:05PM EST.

The 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs have just begun, and can thus go any direction. Betting lines are still open on who will win which series in the preliminary round, though these will close through most of the best online sportsbooks by the time the games begin tonight.


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