Almost at the midway point in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Eastern Conference is providing all the drama.
Both finalists out West are sorted already, the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks comfortably disposing of Minnesota and Calgary respectively. It will be an interesting series between those two and the odds to win the matchup are almost a coin flip with the Ducks marginally ahead at 1.88. Anaheim have only lost one game in getting to this point, but the Blackhawks have the Cup pedigree.
Narrowing it down to the last pair standing has proved much tougher on the Atlantic side. The New York Rangers have battled back from 3-1 down to force Game 7 against the Washington Capitals tomorrow night. Better yet for the Blueshirts, the deciding contest is at Madison Square Garden and it is reflected in their odds of 1.53 to clinch the series.
Washington must lament missed opportunities when they see how their chances have dropped out to 2.55. Chris Kreider has played a huge part in the Rangers' rally with three goals in the last two games and Derick Brassard has been another standout performer.
Of course the duel between goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby has taken centre stage, the latter being a revelation with a mighty .944 save percentage. Holtby will be key but either way it will take a huge effort by the Capitals to turn around the momentum tomorrow night.
Can the Montreal Canadiens repeat New York's trick? They face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 tonight after already twice staving off elimination. Even with Montreal's storied history this is the first time they have managed the feat, now the pressure is off as the Habs attempt to push it one more game.
No side wants the embarrassment of losing from 3-0 up, Tampa are facing the possibility with the Canadiens at 3.85 to pull off an astonishing comeback. The importance of winning tonight on home ice can be overstated, as results suggest crowd support is not as big an advantage in Game 7 as you would expect.
For the Bolts, scoring early to get on top of Carey Price and matching Montreal's rising energy levels should be priorities. So far in this series there has either been tight 2-1 wins or 6-2 blowouts, odds of 1.70 on under 4.5 total goals seem a good option. As for the result, 3.35 on a Habs win in regulation has to be worth a go.