Stanley Cup Playoffs: Pens atop East

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The road to the Stanley Cup gets underway this week with the start of the opening round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh finished the regular season with the most points in the Eastern Conference and has been opened by Bodog as the 7/2 favorite to win it all.

The team with the next best odds in the East is Boston at 17/2 despite their struggles down the stretch. The following is a brief look at Game 1 of each of the first-round Eastern matchups.

The action gets underway this Wednesday night with No. 5 Toronto on the road against the No. 4 Bruins. The Maple Leafs posted just two wins in their last six games but still managed to score three or more goals in three of the six outings. Boston stumbled down the stretch to fall all the way to fourth in the East with a 2-5-2 record in its last nine games while scoring two or less goals in eight of the nine contests. Boston won three of four matchups between the two in the regular season on the NHL betting lines.

The second half of Wednesday’s doubleheader pits the upstart New York Islanders against the No. 1 seed Penguins. It could be a tough assignment for the Islanders to get the early jump in this best-of-seven series considering that Pittsburgh has won 15 of its last 17 home games including a pair of victories over New York. The Penguins went 4-1 against the Islanders this season while outscoring them 17-9.

The Ottawa Senators will take to the ice this Thursday night as the seventh seed in the East to face No. 2 Montreal, which won its final two games to secure the Northeast Division title. Ottawa pulled off a huge 4-2 victory on the NHL odds over the Bruins in its season finale as a +173 road underdog to lock up the seventh seed. The last time these two teams met, the Senators lost a 4-3 shootout as +163 underdogs on the road.

The final pairing in the East kicks its best-of-seven series off later on Thursday night with the No .6 New York Rangers on the road against the red-hot No. 3 Washington Capitals. While the Rangers did hang tough down the stretch with a 5-1 record in their last six games, Washington stormed its way to the Southeast Division title with an 8-1-1 record in its last 10 games. These two last met on March 24 with New York hammering out a 3-2 shootout victory as a -145 home favorite.