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NHL Playoff Preview

The puck drops on the Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday night. Here’s a rundown of all the opening-round series and the latest Cup odds for each team:

Eastern Conference

Washington Capitals (+400) vs. Montreal Canadiens (+5000) at Bovada

[ Click here {URL=http://www.oddsshark.com/future-odds/stanley-cup} for the latest Cup futures,{/URL} props on which team will win the series and in how many games, Alexander Ovechkin over-under scoring props against the Habs and much more ] The Canadiens can’t be too happy about drawing the Capitals in the first round, but at least they weren’t Washington’s punching bag during the regular season. Montreal was a solid 2-1-1 in four games versus the Caps this season, which includes a win in Washington back in November. Despite their regular season success the Canadiens will likely need Jaroslav Halak to stand on his head to upset the highly-favored Capitals. Series prediction: Washington in Five.

New Jersey Devils (+1000) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (+5000) at Bovada The Flyers may have squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, but they appear to have hit the jackpot by drawing the Devils. The Flyers were 5-1 against the Devils this season while outscoring them 20-13. The Devils have the better goaltending with Martin Brodeur between the pipes, but that hasn’t helped them the last two years as the Devils have made first-round exits in the playoffs. Make it three. Series prediction: Flyers in Six [ THIS UPSET PAYS OUT AT 11/2 AT Bovada TODAY ]

Buffalo Sabres (+1500) vs. Boston Bruins (+4000) at Bovada The Bruins entered the postseason on a three-game winning streak, which included a 3-1 win over Buffalo last week. Overall this season Boston is 4-2 against Buffalo, with two of those wins coming in overtime. Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller may have a Vezina Trophy in his future, and when the Sabres had a Vezina winner between the pipes before they almost won the Cup. They might not make it that far this time, but they’ll take down a shorthanded Bruins team. Series prediction: Sabres in Six.

Pittsburgh Penguins (+500) vs. Ottawa Senators (+3000) at Bovada The defending Cup champions were 2-2 against the Senators this season. The last time they clashed in the postseason in 2008 Pittsburgh swept the Sens 4-0 in the opening round. Ottawa netminder Brian Elliott will be getting his first taste of the postseason, but it won’t be pretty versus Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Series prediction: Penguins in Five.

Western Conference

San Jose Sharks (+500) vs. Colorado Avalanche (+7500) at Bovada The Avalanche weren’t expected to make the playoffs and they almost didn’t after a second-half swoon. The Sharks were 2-1-1 against Colorado this season with both wins coming at home. These Avalanche players are too young and inexperienced to upset the Sharks - even if the Sharks do have their usual playoff troubles. Series prediction: Sharks in Five.

Chicago Blackhawks (+450) vs. Nashville Predators (+5000) The Blackhawks are many experts’ pick to make the Cup final out of the competitive West. First, they’ll have to deal with Nashville. No offense to the Predators, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the Hawks. Chicago was 4-2 against the Preds this season, including taking two of three in Nashville. Series prediction: Chicago in Four.

Vancouver Canucks (+1000) vs. Los Angeles Kings (+4000) at Bovada This could be the best series in the opening round. The Canucks were 3-1 against the Kings this season, but that one loss was an 8-3 beatdown earlier this month. Roberto Luongo allowed all eight goals and his post-Olympic struggles have to have the Canucks concerned. This one should go the distance with Luongo tiring out and ending the Canucks’ season early. Series prediction: Kings in Seven.

Phoenix Coyotes (+2000) vs. Detroit Red Wings (+800) at Bovada The Coyotes’ first playoff appearance since 2002 won’t be a very long one. The Red Wings are peaking heading into the postseason and that’s not good news for the Coyotes. The Wings were 2-0-2 against the Coyotes this season and they’ve won seven of their last eight against them at home. After jumping out to a quick 2-0 series lead the Wings should coast to the second round. Series prediction: Red Wings in Five.

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