Live NHL series bets: Where is the value after Game 1s?

Gerry Thomas / National Hockey League / Getty

It's obvious in hockey: The best you can do is make good bets, find value, and then let the puck bounce where it may. We had mixed results in our in-series betting after Game 1 of the first round, taking a decent plus-money price into Game 7 with the Bruins and getting a win with the Oilers (-115) after each trailed twice in their respective series.

With four Game 1s in the books for Round 2, is there anything worth betting on now that we have a modicum of information?

Game 1: Lightning @ Panthers

Even-strength play

Lightning 2.04 8 1
Panthers 2.25 7 1

If everything went according to plan, we wouldn't have anything to bet on in-series, and what fun would that be? It took roughly 30 seconds for the Panthers to do the one thing we asked them not to: put the Lightning on the power play. While Florida's penalty kill held up for a while, Tampa eventually broke through, converting three of six chances overall.

Since the Panthers couldn't generate many power plays or high-danger chances, the Lightning succeeded in playing a low-event road game at even strength.

The numbers above suggest that Game 1 was evenly played, but when laying around -150, you're hoping for something closer to a 60/40 split rather than 50/50. Staying out of the box is a start, and not getting danced by Nikita Kucherov on the rush would help, so there's a path to the Panthers equalizing the series.

Pick: Panthers to win series (+130)

Game 1: Blues @ Avalanche

Even-strength play

Blues 1.37 5 1
Avalanche 3.73 16 1

It wasn't without stress, but those buying into Colorado's ceiling were vindicated in Game 1, as it was truly an Avalanche during five-on-five play. The Avs outshot the Blues 40-10 at full strength in regulation.

St. Louis' backers got everything they could want out of Jordan Binnington, but it seems like he'll need to be heroic, while the skaters in front of him will have to buck up for the Blues to get a win on more than a fluke.

My postgame 74.6% win probability is probably flattering to the Blues, but the odds for Game 2 have been adjusted to the Avalanche being -245 favorites - an implied win probability of 71%.

As for in-series odds, the Blues are now anywhere from +500 - a bet that would be made on blind faith after Game 1. However, if St. Louis can play better in front of him, at least we know Binnington is at the peak of his powers, and it was just one (admittedly rough) game. A home win in Game 1 means little to change the trajectory of the series, and we're getting an extensive price for it to get tighter.

If the Blues can force a sixth game at home, there'll be value to bet in the series handicap market.

Pick: Blues +1.5 games (+240)

Game 1: Rangers @ Hurricanes

Even-strength play

Rangers 3.11 12 1
Hurricanes 2.95 14 2

This game was pretty loose for two teams atop the NHL in goals against average this season, with 26 combined five-on-five high-danger chances and a sequence that featured a Nino Niederreiter breakaway attempt off the crossbar and Kaapo Kakko missing a wide-open net.

Be wary of betting the under in Game 2 if all you saw was a 1-0 game for 57 minutes. The overall game numbers suggest we should be wary of betting the Hurricanes, too, but if you excuse a lazy first period and a mediocre second, you could make the case the real Carolina came out in the third period and beyond. The Canes had 75% of the five-on-five high-danger chances and won in terms of expected goals at even strength (1.85-0.73) after the second intermission.

With a win already in pocket, the Hurricanes now know what it takes to be the better team, while their win probability hasn't changed drastically in the series handicap market.

Pick: Hurricanes -1.5 games (-180)

Game 1: Oilers @ Flames

Even-strength play

Oilers 1.58 6 2
Flames 3.16 13 1

In the words of Ron Burgundy, "That escalated quickly. I mean, things really got out of hand." Game 1 was beyond anything anyone could have asked for to start the Battle of Alberta.

After the Flames blitzed Mike Smith and the Oilers early, the game was more evenly played. However, that might have been a function of Edmonton chasing 5-1 and 6-2 deficits.

With both teams capable of scoring, and defenders' confidence shaken, you're getting an improved price to bet on this series to go at least seven games after Calgary's opening-game victory.

Pick: Oilers +1.5 games (+140)

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

Live NHL series bets: Where is the value after Game 1s?
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