Shane breaks down each round 1 matchup as we approach the 2023 NHL Playoffs


We are at that magical moment during every year where the best playoffs in the greatest sport in the world are played featuring the greatest athletes in the world. Okay maybe I’m getting carried away but the NHL playoffs and the Stanley Cup are arguably one of the greatest competitive setups in all sports worldwide. Best of 7 series, possible #1 seeds getting swept in the first round, triple overtime endurance battles, and epic gladiatorial wars between the many egos on the ice.

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers

Let me start off by saying I’m a Bruins fan BUTTTT I’m going to be a middleman hog here. The Florida Panthers can score on anybody, plain and simple. This issue is that anybody can score on them multiple times easily. Matthew Tkachuk and Alexander Barkov are the two big stars up front with Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad holding down the back line as best they can. Florida is a very “run and gun” style team and pretty much attacks all the time. They are going against the best team in hockey, statistically speaking. The Boston Bruins under Jim Montgomery picked up where they left off and added another gear under his leadership. The veterans Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krecji are all too familiar with the playoffs and the extra intensity that comes with it. Leadership on this team is one of the best in the league. The Big Bad Bruins are fast, strong, but are unfortunately suffering from a “bug” that is plaguing multiple players. Maybe this evens the series, maybe it doesn’t even factor into it. I do believe that the Bruins are simply better than Panthers in every facet of the game and should win in 4-5. I would take the Bruins 3-way in every game for what should be around -120 to -150 odds. That’s the Bruins to win in regulation.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders

This is the low shine, all grind series that should feature two hard-nosed, well-rounded teams battling it out all the way to Game 7. I’m thinking this is going to be a series where only the home team wins. Neither team has the star power to shine over the other and with the home crowd rocking at both arenas, these should be hard fought battles in every second of the game. Sebastian Aho leads the Carolina team as they are 4 lines deep, with Brent Burns as the anchor on the back end. Islanders acquired Bo Horvat to help load up the offense, Mathew Barzal is trying to be healthy for the series, and goalie Ilya Sorokin played some great hockey to end the season. Everything screams at me to take the under in every game as I don’t see much of any advantage for either team.

If Carolina loses Game 1 I would take them to win the series with the better odds instead of the -200 currently. I’ll be taking the home team on the moneyline every game.

 New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers

The New York Rangers geared up with some splash trades for Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko to help stack this deep roster. Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba bring some quality talent out on the ice on defense. Trouba will hit anything as Fox will set up about every play when he starts up the ice with the puck. The same can be said for New Jersey as they acquired Timo Meier to boost the offense which is very formidable behind players like Jack Hughes, Ondrej Palat, and young studs like Dawson Mercer. Dougie Hamilton on defense has danced around the top 5 for Norris all season after a great campaign.

I like the New York Rangers to win the series at +102. I think they have more composure and grit on defense, and they have stronger goaltending than what New Jersey has to offer.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Does Toronto finally make it out of the first round in 15+ years with a stacked roster of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Ryan O’ Reilly and William Nylander? I sure as shit hope so but it won’t be easy against one of the best teams of the past 5 years in the NHL. Tampa Bay is still legit. Nikita Kucherov is healthy, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos are buzzing with Victor Hedman blocking the sun from hitting stalwart goalie Andrew Vasilevskiy. This series is going to be one of my favorites as it features some of the best in the game. How do you not take the over in every game? I can see Vasilevskiy stealing a game or two but if this heads back to Tampa 1-1 after the games in Toronto, then the Leafs will NEED to steal a road game.

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche vs. Seattle Kraken

Seattle showed lots of life this year and created numerous fireworks behind Jared McCann and Yanni Gourde. This Kraken team is electric, young, and fast. Now the bad news. The Colorado Avalanche are tougher, faster, and stronger. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar are beasts and the best of the West besides maybe Edmonton. They have been here before and they are looking to win back-to-back championships like the Lightning the 2 years before them. I’d take the Colorado team total over 3.5 every home game at around -110, but that 3-way line should be nice too around the same amount, as I highly doubt the Kraken take the Avs for a ride in any game. I can also be easily convinced that the over is going to hit in every game with these subpar goalies.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets

I’ll be direct with this one, and I’m sorry Winnipeg fans, but your team is not ready and hasn’t been for years. Sure, you have a good team with good talent and a good goalie. Vegas is a great team, with great players and quality goalies. Bruce Cassidy has this team buzzing behind rejuvenated hog Jack Eichel. Rick Bowness was picked up by the Jets when Paul Maurice quit on them, and I still think he was very much in the right as the team still struggles to play well consistently.

Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild

How the hell did the Minnesota Wild become deadline sellers and still make the playoffs? Whatever, here we are, and this series should be extra spicy because of Kirill Kaprizov’s return to the ice after a scary injury towards the end of the season. The Wild went out and acquired John Klingberg who is great offensively for a defenseman but does very little defensively. Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury have been a solid tandem for the Wild and we shall see if the rotation keeps up or do they swing it to the veteran Fleury. On the other end, youth and old meet to form a very strong Dallas team. Jake Oettinger will most likely draw the start as he plays in his third NHL playoff series. Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Roope Hintz look to keep up in points behind Jason Robertson as he leads the Stars offense into this matchup. I like the Stars to win the series at -150. I doubt it will go to 7 but the Stars in 6 seems very likely in my opinion. 

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings

Here we are, probably the best series matchup in the West and it contains the best player in the NHL. That’s Connor McDavid ladies and gentlemen, or McJesus for short. Leon Draisaitl is his one and only sidekick on that team who even comes close to his greatness. Adding Mattias Ekholm at the deadline was the much-needed defensive power they have lacked for years. Hopefully Stuart Skinner can catch fire in this series to help stabilize everything behind the offense. The LA Kings offer 4 lines that play defense, grind, and score. They have tough as nails players in Anze Kopitar, Phillip Danault, and Adrian Kempe, who are some of the few offensive studs. Drew Doughty on defense headlines the back end and rightfully so, but Vladislav Gavrikov has become the Robin to Doughty’s Batman since the Kings acquired him from Columbus, although they had to ship Jonathan Quick out. They split the regular season series 2-2, and I’m saying that the close competition will continue into the postseason. This is a 7-game series. I honestly don’t know who to take here as I desperately want McDavid to win a cup. If anybody in this league deserves one, it’s Greztky 2.0. So, this bet is a weird one but it’s Edmonton to score a power play goal in every game. You would have to bet it each game and it’s probably around -150 odds, but the Oilers have the best power play and the Kings have one of the worst penalty kills out of all the playoff teams.

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