This Easter Conference semi-final match-up is not one that the sports betting experts saw coming at all. The NHL odds had the Boston Bruins losing to the Buffalo Sabres in the first round, and the Philadelphia Flyers were not even supposed to have a chance against the New Jersey Devils. But this NHL game preview is about a game one between two teams that wanted it more than the favorites did. It is also about how unpredictable NHL playoff betting can really be.
It would have been easier to pick the Kentucky Derby competitors than to choose these two teams to meet in the second round of the playoffs, but these Stanley Cup long shots are gearing up for a physical, and probably very long, series.
In net the Flyers have a pleasant surprise in Brian Boucher. His stats for the playoffs are incredible with a 1.59 goals against average, a .940 save percentage and one shut-out in five games against the Devils. The Flyers did not beat the Devils with offense, they smothered them with defense, and Boucher was a huge part of that.
The only Flyer to score more than two goals in the first round was Claude Giroux with four. Mike Richards had eight points and Danny Briere had five. It is important to remember that the series only went five games, so the Flyers did not have the extra game or two to add to their stats that the other teams did.
The Flyers have 12 to 1 odds at winning the Stanley Cup, and the Bruins are in at 10 to 1. The Bruins have better goal scoring talent than the Flyers in Recchi, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. The Flyers have been full of surprises in these playoffs already, but the game plan that worked against the Devils will not work against the Bruins. If the Flyers try and draw the Bruins into a physical series, then that plays right into the hands of the Boston team. The problem for Philadelphia is that they may not have the offensive weapons necessary to win this opening game.
Pick: Boston Bruins 4-3
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