The quest for this season’s Stanley Cup is well underway as 16 teams continue to battle their way through the first round of the playoffs in an effort to advance to the conference semifinals.
The following is a brief update of each of the four best-of-seven opening-round matchups in the Eastern Conference along with a look this week’s upcoming games.
No.8 Ottawa Senators vs. No.1 New York Rangers
New York opened this series with a 4-2 victory in Game 1 as a 169 home favorite after jumping out to a 3-0 lead through two periods. After grabbing an early 1-0 lead in Game 2, the Rangers squandered their home ice advantage in a 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa as a 157 home favorite.
Game 3 turned into a defensive battle which clearly favored New York as goalie Henrik Lundqvist shined in a 1-0 win as a 109 road favorite. He stopped all 39 shots against the Senators to help his team regain a 2-1 edge in this series.
The Rangers are now 7-1 in their last eight games in Ottawa with Game 4 set for Wednesday night. Head-to-head, the road team is 21-7 in the last 28 meetings which really puts the pressure on the Senators to avoid falling into a dreaded 3-1 hole in this series.
No.7 Washington Capitals vs. No.2 Boston Bruins
The first goal in this series was not scored until overtime of Game 1 with Boston claiming the win as a 176 home favorite. Game 2 was another low-scoring affair with Washington coming out on top 2-1 in overtime as a 167 road underdog.
Both teams were finally able to generate some offense in Monday night’s Game 3, but it was the Bruins coming out on top 4-3 as 118 road favorite. The Capitals actually grabbed the early lead and kept the game tied late into the third, but Zdeno Chara’s goal with less than two minutes to play proved to be the difference.
The series stays in Washington for Game 4 on Thursday. Boston is now 6-0 in its last six road games and 7-3 in its last 10 first-round playoff games. The Capitals dropped to 2-6 in their last eight games following a win.
No.6 New Jersey Devils vs. No.3 Florida Panthers
This series is knotted at one game apiece and resumes on Tuesday night with Game 3 in New Jersey. The Devils drew first blood with a 3-2 victory in Game 1 as a slight 102 road underdog after peppering the Panthers with three unanswered first period goals.
Florida responded with a 4-2 win in Game 2 as a 101 home underdog by flipping the switch with a three-goal barrage of its own while blanking New Jersey for the first two periods. The Panthers held off a third period rally to even the series at 1-1.
The Devils are 165 home favorites for Game 3 with the total line set at five. They are 28-9 in their last 37 games as home favorites, while Florida is 2-6 in its last eight road games as an underdog. The total has gone ‘over’ in five of the last seven meetings in New Jersey
No.5 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No.4 Pittsburgh Penguins
This Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly get ready for Battle Royal IV as the Flyers and Penguins duke it out in a do or die Game 4 with Philadelphia holding the commanding 3-0 lead.
The Flyers have not only outscored the heavily favored Penguins by a combined score of 20-12, they have out-hustled them up and down the ice and have out-hit them along the boards. It would be hard to believe that Pittsburgh could be swept in this series, but this team seems more content on trying to fight the Flyers instead of trying to beat them.
Philadelphia has been opened as a 125 home favorite for Game 4 with the total line set at 6.5. It is 12-4 in its last 16 games as a favorite and 8-1 in its last nine games on two day’s rest. The Penguins are now 0-6 in their last six first-round playoff games.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.