After an opening round of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs that saw a handful of Game 7s and even more upsets, more questions than answers remain through the first few games of the second round.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Boston Bruins
They split the games in Boston, so the series is tied 1-1 heading into Game 3. Columbus is hoping to take control of the series after sweeping the President’s Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning to start their post-season run, following several key player transactions at the NHL Trade Deadline – including acquisitions of Matt Duchesne and Ryan Dzingel. With possible losses of forward Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky to free agency this summer, the Blue Jackets are in win-now mode. On the other side, Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in points and continues to impose his will in nearly every game.
New York Islanders vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Game 3 of this series is set for Wednesday, when a desperate Islanders club will head to Carolina looking to keep from going down 0-3. Despite upsetting the Penguins in Round 1, the Islanders find their backs up against the wall in this series. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes found a way to squeak past the defending Cup champion Washington Capitals in their opening matchup. Perhaps Carolina likely having to play without starting goaltender Petr Mrazek will be just enough to spark the road team. Then again, New York has their own question mark in between the pipes, with many wondering if Thomas Greiss will get the nod again.
San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche
Led by Brent Burns, the Sharks arrive in Denver tonight looking to take control of the series. He leads all defensemen in points, not only in the playoffs, but did so in the regular season, as well. Colorado has to be pleased heading home with the best-of-seven contest split at one game each thus far. Avs forwards Mikko Rantanen Nathan and Nathan MacKinnon have turned things around for the franchise, currently leading all active players in playoff points. They’re facing a Sharks team that may look rather different next season due to expiring contracts for Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Gustav Nyquist. Younger players like Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc will be RFAs, and their performance in the playoffs could help dictate their next deals.
St Louis Blues vs. Dallas Stars
Monday night’s Game 3 between these two teams kicked off what should be another exciting week of playoff hockey. Many have been quick to criticize Esa Lindell for diving, which ultimately led Pat Marroon scoring the game winner. This series features another very interesting matchup in goal, as rookie Jordan Binnington goes for the Blues and veteran Ben Bishop is scheduled to start for the Stars. Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo lead the Blues in points, while Jamie Benn paces all Stars players in offensive production.
It’s also worth mentioning, as the playoffs continue there likely going to be a few more upsets. How long will this continue and when will things normalize? Savvy gamblers and avid sports fans will most surely want to get in on the action. In fact, several betting sites have already release interesting odds for individual games, specific series and a list of odds for teams still vying for this year’s Stanley Cup.