Had the Toronto Maple Leafs managed to not blow a two-goal lead in their last game of the season, which would have otherwise set up a first-round match against the Ottawa Senators, we’d be guaranteed to see at least one Ontario team make it to the second round.
If oddsmakers are right, there’s little chance of that happening now. The first NHL Round 1 series prices are out, and they’re not kind to the Buds and Sens.
Of all the opening round series, the Leafs, at +300, are being given the smallest chance to advance. This makes sense, of course – they’re facing the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals, a juggernaut expected to make it to the Cup final.
But the Senators? For a team that finished second in the division and will open the postseason at home, they aren’t getting much love at all. The Bruins, despite dealing with injuries to several key defencemen, opened as massive (for a road team) -180 favourites for the series, and -120 for Game 1 in Ottawa.
There are a few factors at play here. As I wrote here, the Senators are the only team to enter the playoffs with a negative goal differential, and negative goal differential teams are just 2-10 over the past 10 years in Round 1. The Bruins’ underlying numbers are also impressive – they’re first in the league in FF% at 5-on-5.
That said, as I wrote here, people have been underestimating the Senators all year, so maybe things aren’t as bleak as they appear.
James Gordon is publisher of HockeyMarkets.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/James_J_Gordon.