(GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Well, here we are again. With only a little over a month left until the playoffs start, we are starting to get a better picture of which teams will be competing for the Stanley Cup, and which teams will try their luck again come this October. At this point in the season, it's a hotly contested points race amongst the playoff teams in order to secure themselves a higher seed before the first round of the postseason.
The first matchup of the night is exactly that. Two contending teams from the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference who will have a spot in the playoffs, but still have some ground to make up in order to work their way up the standings.
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert, in fact, I'm the exact opposite. These are just my personal takes and my personal bets going into tonight's contests. Odds mentioned in this article are subject to change prior to puck drop.
Lets take a look at how we fared last week:
Game 1: Boston Bruins @ Minnesota Wild
After a slow first half of the season, the Boston Bruins have since turned it around in impressive fashion. I've recently heard the Bruins referred to as the "team no one wants to play in the first round" given their recent dominance. A lot of Boston's success as of late can be attributed to their third line, which consists of Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle, and Craig Smith. Coyle has been especially impressive, as he posted his second multi-point game in his last four, and scored the game winner against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
Quite the contrary to the Boston Bruins, the Minnesota Wild are a team that have found themselves struggling in recent weeks. Minnesota is still in third place in the Central Division with 77 points, despite posting a 7-11 record since the beginning of February. Minnesota has to finish the months of March and April strong as we near the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they want to avoid slipping into a wild card spot.
Keep in mind that this is Boston's second game in two nights, as they took down the Chicago Blackhawks last night in a 2-1 victory in overtime, so fatigue can play a factor. The Bruins go into tonight's game as the underdogs at a +100, but I like those odds given Minnesota's recent struggles.
Kirill Kaprizov O .5 points
Game 2: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Seattle Kraken
This matchup is a little more one-sided than tonight's first game between Boston and Minnesota. On one hand, you have the Tampa Bay Lightning who are the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions and are making a strong push for the three-peat, and then on the other hand you have the brand new Seattle Kraken, who are exactly what you'd expect an expansion to be in their inaugural season.
It was announced at the end of last week that the Seattle Kraken and forward, Jared McCann, agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract. McCann, Seattle's leading scorer this year, was set to hit restricted free-agency at the end of this season. I wrote a more in-depth analysis on the Kraken in my March 2nd betting guide, where I explained that McCann (among others) is a crucial piece of Seattle's core and future success, and that they needed to work out a deal with him as soon as possible.
Tampa Bay are losers in 3 of their last 5 contests, losing to the likes of the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers. The Lightning are coming into tonight's game on a high note, however, as they defeated a very good Vancouver Canucks team 2-1 on Sunday. Tampa Bay has had the last two days off to rest, and despite not playing their best hockey over the last two weeks, I just cannot choose the Seattle Kraken over a perennial Stanley Cup contender.
TB puck line -1.5
Additional game picks this evening:
CBJ Blue Jackets +1.5