The first step on the toughest journey in sports starts tonight and the NHL playoff odds are not always an accurate reflection of team form heading down the stretch. Ottawa Senators (+170 at Bovada) at Pittsburgh Penguins (-210) O/U 5.5 The Penguins’ title defense begins at home tonight against the Senators. The last time they met on January 28 in Pittsburgh the Senators stole a 4-1 win as a +145 underdog. Sidney Crosby was held pointless and he, Evgeni Malkin, and Sergei Gonchar were a combined minus-six. It’s also worth noting that Ottawa was red-hot at the time and the win was their eighth in a row. The NHL playoff odds at Bovada might not accurately reflect this. ADVERTISEMENT: THE BEST NHL PLAYOFF UNDERDOG LINES ARE USUALLY AT [custom:bodog-link] OR [custom:sb-sportsinteraction-homelink] - GET THE LATEST HOCKEY ODDS AND $50 FREE BETS TODAY. The Penguins lit the lamp more often than the Senators this season, but in nets Marc-Andre Fleury and Brian Elliot put up pretty similar numbers. We’ll give Fleury the edge because he has playoff experience and take Pittsburgh to win the series opener at home.
Philadelphia Flyers (+160) at New Jersey Devils (-190) O/U 5.5 at Bovada The Flyers barely got into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, but don’t underestimate them against the Devils. The Flyers were 5-1 against the Devils this season, including a 5-1 drubbing the last time they clashed two weeks ago. Philly chased Martin Brodeur in that game after scoring four goals on 19 shots. Brodeur was in nets for all five losses against the Flyers this year and posted a lame 3.34 GAA and .878 save percentage. Brodeur hasn’t been his old reliable self for New Jersey during their last two playoff runs and we expect that to continue, as Philly continues their domination of Jersey with a win tonight.
Detroit Red Wings (-115) at Phoenix Coyotes (-105) O/U 5 at Bovada Welcome back to the postseason, Coyotes. Just don’t get too comfortable. No team is entering the playoffs as hot as the Red Wings. Detroit is 10-1-1 in their last 12 games and they’ve loved coming to the desert in the past with an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 at Phoenix. Watch out for Pavel Datsyuk in this series, as he had six points in four games versus the Coyotes this season and in his career against Phoenix he’s notched 46 points in 30 games. Datsyuk and the Red Wings should start the series with a win as long as Jimmy Howard can match up with Ilya Bryzgalov in nets.
Colorado Avalanche (+200) at San Jose Sharks (-240) O/U 5.5 at Bovada Injuries and inexperience will likely derail the Avalanche’s unexpected playoff journey. Colorado has two banged up snipers in Matt Duchene and Peter Mueller. Duchene (hip) should play tonight, but there’s no official word on Mueller (concussion), which is a big blow after he posted 20 points in 15 games with the Avs. The Sharks were upset in the first round last year thanks to the stellar play of Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller. Colorado’s Craig Anderson looks too burnt out to pull a Hiller. The Sharks should roll to a win tonight.