Sports

Predictions for all eight first-round series

The NHL playoffs begin on Monday. Sportsbooks are offering series prices, along with a plethora of other markets to bet.

Here’s how both the Eastern and Western Conferences stack up as the quest for the Stanley Cup begins.

Eastern Conference

Rangers (-110) vs. Penguins (-110): The Penguins’ offense scuffled versus the Rangers during the regular season, going 1-3 and posting just four total goals against the division rival.

The Rangers were far and away the best bet in the NHL, winning $100 bettors north of $1,200 this season. New York also has a big edge at goalie with Igor Shesterkin between the pipes, while the Penguins could be without netminder Tristan Jarry, who is dealing with a broken foot.

The Penguins are always overvalued and that’s the case again this year. The Rangers win this series in six.

No one in the last 50 years has scored as many goals for the Rangers in a single season as Chris Kreider did in the 2021-22 campaign.
NHLI via Getty Images

Panthers (-350) vs. Capitals (+260): Florida’s the clear-cut team to beat in the East. The Panthers are as low as 5/1 to win the Stanley Cup, but can be grabbed at +550 ahead of the postseason at multiple shops.

Hockey is different from other sports where a hot goalie can send a No. 1 seed home early. Don’t expect that to happen in this series though. The three games between the two teams during the regular season were evenly matched but Florida’s firepower will be the difference in the playoffs. Panthers in six.

Lightning (+100) vs. Maple Leafs (-120): Tampa Bay goes for three straight titles, beginning with an opening-round tilt versus a red-hot offense.

The Leafs — led by 60-goal scorer Auston Matthews — are third in goals per game and first in both faceoff-win percentage and power-play success rate.

Toronto’s struggles in the postseason are well-documented. Look for that to continue in Round 1 versus the Lightning. The defending champions advance to the next round.

Hurricanes (-120) vs. Bruins (+100): Two dangerous clubs meet in another toss-up series, according to oddsmakers.

Both teams comfortably sailed over 100 points during the regular season. Carolina led the Metro with 116 points this season and is 12/1 to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are 16/1 to win the Cup, and while this series is even on paper, the Hurricanes dominated all three games this year, going 3-0 and outscoring Boston 16-1.

Expect this series to be more competitive, but the Hurricanes take it in seven.

Carolina Hurricanes right wing Jesper Fast (71) celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes with Hurricanes right wing Nino Niederreiter (21), defenseman Ethan Bear (25), and defenseman Brendan Smith, back right, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, April 18, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz.
Hurricanes players celebrate a goal.
AP

Western Conference

Avalanche (-600) vs. Predators (+425): The Avalanche are the Cup favorites across the board, ranging anywhere from +320 to +350. Colorado did falter a bit down the stretch, dropping six of seven with five of those losses in regulation.

Will that downward trend continue in the playoffs? Not likely. Nathan MacKinnon and Co. are the most well-rounded team in the NHL and while Nashville played them tough in the regular season, expect the Avalanche to make short work of the Predators. .

Flames (-300) vs. Stars (+240): It took a bit for Calgary to get going out the gate, but the Flames wound up leading the Pacific with 111 points.

Calgary’s defense has been lights-out in 2021-22, ranking top six in goals against, shots against and penalty kill. The Flames are the third favorites to win the Stanley Cup at 8/1 and went 2-0-1 versus the Stars in the regular season. Calgary in five.

Connor McDavid
Oilers’ Connor McDavid
Getty Images

Oilers (-250) vs. Kings (+200): The Kings were the third-most profitable team in hockey during the regular season, netting bettors wagering $100 on every L.A. moneyline close to $700.

The Oilers went 3-1 versus the Kings in the regular season, although the goal differential between the two teams was only one. Edmonton is a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup at 18/1. However, the Kings are live dogs in this series. Don’t be shocked if we see an upset.

Wild (-165) vs. Blues (+135): Only the Panthers ($902) won bettors more money at home than the Wild ($901), by a matter of mere cents.

The Blues took all three contests during the regular season, lighting the lamp a whopping 16 times. This is going to be one of the more competitive series with both teams sitting near 20/1 to win the Stanley Cup.

Taking a flier on the Blues to win in seven games at 6/1 is a smart bet. This series looks like it’s going the distance and St. Louis has value as the underdog.

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