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2020 NHL Playoffs First Round Series Odds and Picks for Every Matchup

Columbus Blue Jackets scoring on Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are -225 favorites to avenge last year's first-round playoff loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Photo by: @BunkerBlue (Twitter.com).
  • The series prices are set on all eight NHL conference quarter-final matchups
  • Which series are bound to go to the favorites? How many upsets are worth a play?
  • Analysis of the best bets on both counts are outlined in the ensuing story

Is this the first round of the NHL playoffs, or was the play-in round the opening of postseason play? No matter. That’s a debate for another day.

What is known for sure is that the NHL conference quarter-finals are about to get underway and the betting lines are set for all eight series.

Which favorites look like locks to advance to the next round? Where are the upset specials that bettors can cash in by playing for the price?

NHL Playoffs First Round Series Odds

Team Moneyline Team Moneyline Odds at DraftKings
Montreal Canadiens +195 Philadelphia Flyers -240
Carolina Hurricanes +116 Boston Bruins -137
New York Islanders +140 Washington Capitals -167
Columbus Blue Jackets +185 Tampa Bay Lightning -225
Arizona Coyotes +205 Colorado Avalanche -250
Chicago Blackhawks +225 Vegas Golden Knights -278
Calgary Flames +100 Dallas Stars -118
Vancouver Canucks +165 St. Louis Blues -200

Odds taken Aug. 10.

Underdogs won five of eight first-round series during the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Favored Sums

Take the chalk to the bank in these series.

Stay With Vegas

The core of the Chicago Blackhawks owns a resume of Stanley Cup success. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and company are going to be viewed by some as destiny’s darlings after their stunning upset of the Edmonton Oilers but the Blackhawks were #12 seed for a lot of reasons.

Vegas won’t trade chances with Chicago like the Oilers were willing to do. The Golden Knights go two deep in goal with former Hawk Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury. They don’t have a Norris candidate but their back end is sturdy from first to third pairing.

Vegas went 3-0 and clinched the top seed in the Western Conference without 32-goal scorer Max Pacioretty in the lineup. That’s how deep the Golden Knights go upfront. They will roll four lines and wear out the Blackhawks.

As well, Chicago is 1-6-2 all-time against Vegas.

Pick: Vegas Golden Knights (-278)

Lightning Look to Strike Back

If revenge is indeed a dish best served cold, then the Lightning should feast on the Blue Jackets. The Presidents’ Trophy winners in 2018-19, Tampa Bay suffered a humiliating first-round sweep at the hands of the Blue Jackets. They’ve had 17 months to stew over that debacle.

It’s easy to make a case that history could repeat itself. The Lightning are without captain Steven Stamkos and Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Victor Hedman. However, let’s not forget that last spring’s Columbus juggernaut included the since-departed Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene.

The last time the Lightning were embarrassed was when they missed the 2016-17 playoffs. Tampa Bay rebounded by coming within a win of reaching the Stanley Cup final in 2018.

Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (-225)

Upset Specials

Take the price, play the underdog and cash a big winning ticket on these series.

Flames On

There’s enough evidence to support the favored Stars. Jamie Benn (33 points in 34 games), Tyler Seguin (22 points in 23 games), Joe Pavelski (50 points in 55 games) and Corey Perry (45 points in 58 games) have owned the Flames during their careers.

However, Seguin, the leading scorer on a team that was 26th in the NHL in goals, and goalie Ben Bishop, a Vezina finalist last season, are both out of the lineup with the NHL’s mysterious “unfit to play” designation.

Calgary got goals from 11 different players in vanquishing Winnipeg. The Flames’ top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm hit for six goals and 12 points in four games.

Pick: Calgary Flames (+100)

Storm Warning

The Boston Bruins were the pick of most oddsmakers to win the Stanley Cup when the NHL resumed playing. Something seemed missing, though, as the Bruins were winless in round-robin play.

Vezina-winning goalie Tuukka Rask was out for two of the three games. Forwards David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase missed training camp.

Expected to struggle against the New York Rangers, Carolina swept them aside. The Hurricanes were minus two of their top six defensemen in Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce. Hamilton, out since January, has resumed practicing.

Carolina is firing on all cylinders. The Bruins look vulnerable here.

Pick: Carolina Hurricanes (+116)

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