NHL Playoff Underdogs Look To Bite Hard Again

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 11: Marc Staal #18, Michael Sauer #38, Ruslan Fedotenko #19 and Brandon Prust #8 of the New York Rangers celebrate Fedotenko's first period goal against the Buffalo Sabres of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The two biggest underdogs on the Stanley Cup playoff odds list paid off Wednesday, a warning to chalk bettors eyeing the four series openers for Thursday.

The Flyers were +155 underdogs and rallied from 3-0 down to beat the Penguins, while the Kings were a +140 winning road dog in Vancouver. Only Nashville held serve as chalk.

And if the regular season trends hold up in the playoffs, the Rangers, Bruins and Coyotes could be risky wagers.

New York was 1-3 against the No. 8 seeded Senators during the year, but were getting more than 60% of the wagering action as -175 favorites for Game 1.

"We have the Rangers winning in a sweep here, so naturally we don't see a lot of value in betting the Sens even at good underdog value," said Jack Randall of OddsShark.com.

Boston earned the No. 2 seed, but lost three of four against Washington during the season. With Tim Thomas struggling a bit, the Bruins looking tired and Nathan Horton declared done for the season, this is a series where the underdog could bite hard.

"We all know the Caps have struggled in recent years in the role of favorite, so let's see how they make out as underdogs," said Randall.

In Phoenix, the Coyotes won three straight against the Blackhawks during the season and are the higher seed. But many like Chicago's playoff experience and expect them to emerge. They are small +110 underdogs for Game 1.

The other first-round series opening Thursday was one-sided in favor of the chalk. St. Louis dominated San Jose and didn't allow a single goal at home in two games against the Sharks.

But this is another spot where underdog bettors can find good value.

"San Jose has tons of playoff experience, albeit most of it bad, while the Blues are not battle-tested in April and May," said Randall. "At +135, there is slightly more than half of the betting action on the Sharks, according to our consensus numbers."

The New Jersey vs. Florida series starts Friday.

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