Stanley Cup Playoffs: Betting odds, series probabilities for Florida Panthers versus Boston Bruins

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The Boston Bruins will look to end their record-setting season with a Stanley Cup victory, but first, they must get through the strongest collection of teams in recent memory. The Eastern Conference is stacked, and Boston’s quest for another championship before players like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci possibly retire starts when the Bruins clash with the Florida Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. To get a sense of each team’s strengths and weaknesses, let’s take a closer look at their respective statistics and compare them head-to-head.

 

Here’s a tale of the tape for the upcoming series:

On the surface, this series is a good example of how deep the Eastern Conference is. The Boston Bruins just finished with the most wins and points in regular season history and the Florida Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy last season, but the Bruins are detailed group that plays the game right way, while the Panthers are a one-dimensional team that doesn’t pay enough mind to defense.

Can Florida’s offense beat Boston’s defense?

Not likely. Boston can match the Panthers on offense, and they are the best defensive team in the league. Both teams score by committee, but the Bruins blue line is stacked. Not to mention, Boston’s goaltending tandem allowed fewer goals than any other tandem in the league. Florida has the offensive chops of a champion, with the likes of Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verhaeghe, and Aleksandar Barkov leading the way, but they were exposed by Washington and Tampa Bay in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs and struggled through the 2022-23 regular season. The team made some big trades to be better equipped for the playoffs, but a lot of the issues remain. Their defense and penalty kill are below average and, no disrespect to Alex Lyon or Sergei Bobrovsky, but their goaltending isn’t good enough. The edge that that the Panthers have over most teams offensively isn’t there against the Bruins, and Boston’s defense, from the forwards to the goaltenders, is the best put together of any team in the league.

Who starts in goal for the Bruins?

Linus Ullmark is the obvious choice. He led the league in traditional stats like wins, save percentage and goals against average and will likely win the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender in the NHL. Ullmark ranks third in goals saved above expected (GSAx) and he’s 2-0 versus the Panthers this season. Don’t be surprised to see the Bruins go to Jeremy Swayman, though. Swayman ranks among the top-10 goaltenders in GSAx, and he ranks higher than Ullmark in that category since the start of 2023. Either way, Boston has a huge edge in crease no matter who the starting goaltenders are.

Will Sergei Bobrovsky get his job back?

Panthers head coach Paul Maurice did not share whether he would consider starting 30-year-old Alex Lyon in the playoffs or not, but he was careful not to downplay the goaltender’s contributions to the team. Lyon came to the Panthers rescue when goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was knocked out due to an illness and outplayed the Panthers’ overpaid starter. He’s saved approximately 10 goals above average in 14 games with Florida this season and he’s a big reason why the Panthers are even in the playoffs. He’s also a 30-year-old career miner-leaguer that has only played 38 NHL games up to this point and Bobrovsky has been skating in anticipation of his return. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lyon in the crease should Bobrovsky struggles, which is very much a possibility.

Who will win the series?

There are many ways a best-of-seven series can play out and it’s important to consider the entire range of possibilities when making series predictions. I calculate the probability of each team winning in four, five, six, or seven games and then use those predictions to price series prop markets such as the series winner, series spread, correct score, and total games. Here are my predictions:

Series Probabilities: Boston Bruins

Series Probabilities: Florida Panthers

Best Series Bet:

Shop around for the best odds, but my series handicap has uncovered some value on the series spread. I could justify betting Boston to cover -2.5 games, but I feel very comfortable betting on them to cover -1.5 games at -145 or better given that I think the odds should be closer to -160. The Bruins deserve to be a big favorite, DraftKings Sportsbook currently lists them at -320 odds, and this bet their chances of winning Game 1 are upwards of 65 percent. I don’t expect Boston to sweep the Panthers, but I think the likelihood of this series going to seven games, or being won by Florida, is low enough that it’s a value bet.

Bet: Boston Bruins Series Puck Line (-1.5 games) -145