We are just getting started on the long road to the Stanley Cup.
The Montreal Canadiens have done their chances no harm by getting themselves to the brink of securing a series sweep over the Ottawa Senators. The postseason is a time for unlikely heroes and Dale Weise's brace in the Habs' 2-1 victory on Sunday typified that.
Bryan Flynn and Torrey Mitchell have also been unlikely leading performers and shown the value of depth. In truth the Canadiens have been stronger in all departments and only a desperate performance tomorrow night can keep Ottawa alive any longer. Even then, the Sens offence will need to find a way past an immensely composed Carey Price. Take Montreal to book their place in the conference semis at 1.98 including overtime.
Either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Detroit Red Wings await in round two, a matchup that looks much more finely balanced. While the Lightning have arguably been the better team over both contests, any home loss means you are on the back foot. Few teams can top the Red Wings in terms of speed through their lineup but they've often found themselves on their heels against the likes of Tyler Johnson, who looks a solid pick to add to his two goals. For that reason, backing Steven Stamkos and company to come through in seven games at 4.00 looks the best option. Yet, if Detroit can up their game now on returning to Joe Louis Arena later today, the pressure will rise on the Bolts very quickly.
Another all-Canadian series is heating up out West and the Calgary Flames are a part of it. They lead the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 heading into tonight's Game 4 on home ice. There's been plenty of physicality and aggression especially late on in the contests as time ticks down. Calgary are clearly relishing it along with the lack of pressure, and their young guns are producing outstanding work by staying out of the fray.
Even without captain Mark Giordano, the Flames' blueline is making a huge impact by adding three of their seven goals so far. Vancouver have none in comparison so taking point shots away is clearly something they need to work on. Again the overall trend points to Calgary winning in six or seven games, there's good odds of 5.75 on the latter.