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2019 NHL Playoffs First-Round Series Odds & Picks

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in NHL Hockey

Apr 7, 2019 · 9:07 PM PDT

Steven Stamkos skating
The Tampa Bay Lightning won 62 games this season tying the NHL record set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96. Photo by Michael Miller (Wiki Commons) [CC License].
  • The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday, April 10th
  • The Lighting are favored to win it all and will face the Blue Jackets, while the Maple Leafs and Bruins will meet in the first round for the second straight year
  • Who are the best bets to advance to the second round?

The quest for the Stanley Cup begins Wednesday, and the biggest question around the NHL is: can anybody stop the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The Lighting were head and shoulders above the rest of the league this season, winning 75.6% of their games, and are heavy favorites in the first round of the playoffs against the Blue Jackets.

2019 NHL Eastern Conference Playoffs First Round Match-ups

Team Odds to win series Team Odds to win series
Columbus Blue Jackets +285 Tampa Bay Lightning -340
Toronto Maple Leafs +143 Boston Bruins -163
Carolina Hurricanes +120 Washington Capitals -140
Pittsburgh Penguins -140 New York Islanders +120

*Odds taken April 6th

The Lightning Will Bully the Blue Jackets

Tampa led the league with 325 goals, the most scored in a single season since 1995-96, and boast three 40-goal scorers on their roster, including the Art Ross Trophy winner.

They had a goal differential of +103, the best in the NHL since 2005-06, and they’re just the second team in NHL history to record 30 road wins in a season. With all due respect to the Blue Jackets, they’re not winning this series and they’ll be lucky to steal a single game.

The Pick: Lightning (-340)

The Bruins own the Maple Leafs

For the second straight year the Bruins will clash with the Maple Leafs, and if history is any indication it won’t end well for the Blue and White. Boston knocked out Toronto a year ago, and who can forget what happened when these two teams met in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Bruins won the season series 3-1, outscoring the Leafs 16-10, and holding John Tavares and Auston Matthews to just five points combined. Toronto has a slightly more potent offense, but the biggest discrepancy between the two teams comes on defense. The Leafs had the highest expected goals against among all playoff teams, while Boston had one of the lowest. To make matters worse for Toronto, Frederik Andersen struggled down the stretch, while Tuukka Rask was lights out for the Bruins.

Since December 29th, Rask is 19-5-3 with a .920 save percentage, and his playoff resume is equally as sharp. The Bruins netminder boasts a .924 save percentage and a 2.25 GAA in 65 career playoff starts.

The Pick: Bruins (-163)

2019 NHL Western Conference Playoffs First Round Match-ups

Team Odds to win series Team Odds to win series
Dallas Stars +155 Nashville Predators -175
St. Louis Blues -111 Winnipeg Jets -109
Colorado Avalanche +162 Calgary Flames -182
Las Vegas Golden Knights -110 San Jose Sharks -110

*Odds taken April 6th

The Flames Will Burn the Avalanche

Calgary is the cream of the crop in the West, finishing the season with a conference best +62 goal differential, and 50 wins for the first time since 1988-89. They boast a Norris Trophy contender in Mark Giordano, and five 20-goal scorers, including Johnny Hockey.

They have the best shooting percentage in the conference, and no team in the NHL forces more turnovers in the opposing team’s zone.  Colorado, meanwhile, finished the season with eight wins in their last 11 games, but dropped all three regular season meetings to the Flames, allowing 14 goals along the way.

The Pick: Flames (-182)

The Jets Will be Singing the Blues

No team in the Western Conference is hotter entering the playoffs than the St. Louis Blues. On January 3rd, they had a league low 34 points, but since then have racked up 65 points, including nine wins in their final 12 games. A big reason for their turnaround has been the play of rookie Jordan Binnington, who has been brilliant since taking over the number one role between the pipes.

What’s remarkable about St. Louis’ 2019 success is that they’ve been piling up wins despite being one of the unluckiest teams in the NHL. The Blues scored 27.5 fewer goals than expectation this season, despite generating the 10th most high danger scoring chances. Positive regression is coming, which doesn’t bode well for a Jets team that stumbled down the stretch, losing five of their final seven games.

The Pick: Blues (-111)

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