NHL Playoff Series Odds and Picks for the First Round of the Postseason

The Maple Leafs and Lightning will face-off in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.
The Maple Leafs and Lightning will face-off in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

The NHL Playoffs are set to begin tonight!

Odds to win the Stanley Cup have been updated, and odds to win each opening round series have also been posted.

I'm going to break down the odds for each series and give my pick. All odds posted below are via WynnBET Sportsbook.

Who's surviving and advancing their way through this year's first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs? BetSided's Iain MacMillan and Donnavan Smoot share their picks for every series!

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins Series Odds

  • Hurricanes -115
  • Bruins -105

It's surprising to see that the Hurricanes are only slight favorites as winners of the Metropolitan Division, but oddsmakers and bettors are clearly concerned about the status of their starting goaltender, Frederick Andersen, who suffered an injury a few weeks back.

He's confirmed to miss Game 1 on Monday, and there has been no indication of when he will return.

With that being said, I'm going to underreact to the Hurricanes news and still back Carolina at -115 to win this series. Sure, the Bruins are one of the better defensive teams in the NHL, ranking third in expected goals against over their last 25 games, but their shooting woes will plague them in the postseason. They're 30th in shooting percentage over their last 25 games, finding the back of the net on only 8.52 percent of their shots.

If you're a fan of analytics, you should be jumping all over the Hurricanes. They're first by a mile in CORSI% over their last 25 games, coming in at 59.59 percent. That's 3.22 percent better than the next best teams, who are the Flames at 56.17 percent. I'll gladly take the Hurricanes to get the job done.

Pick: Hurricanes -115

Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals Series Odds

  • Panthers -360
  • Capitals +280

The Florida Panthers are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and for good reason. With that being said, I don't think they're a good bet to win the Stanley Cup at +450. Their wide-open style of play will cost them in later rounds, but they shouldn't have much of an issue disposing of the Washington Capitals.

Goaltender Ilya Samsonov has had a rough year, and he's been struggling heavily as of late. He has a season save percentage of just .896 percent, and he's allowed at least three goals in six of his last eight starts. That's not going to get it done against the best offensive team in the NHL in a seven-game series. Panthers should roll in this one.

Pick: Panthers -360

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Series Odds

  • Maple Leafs -115
  • Lightning -105

The Toronto Maple Leafs are snake-bitten in the first round of the NHL playoffs, having lost in the opening round in six-straight appearances and they haven't won a playoff series since 2004. I am a Maple Leafs fan myself, so believe me when I say to not bet on them to win this series, let alone the Stanley Cup.

The biggest, and most rational, reason to bet against the Maple Leafs is their goaltending. Their 22nd in save percentage over their last 25 games, which will be tough to overcome against the Lightning, who boast arguably the best goaltender in the NHL in Andrei Vasilevskiy.

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Series Odds

  • Rangers -110
  • Penguins -110

In a series that oddsmakers believe is a true coin flip, New York's goaltender, Igor Shesterkin, will be the main focal point. He's a shoe-in to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie this year after sporting a 2.07 goals against average and a .935 save percentage. With an average goalie between the pipes, this Rangers team would have been a borderline playoff squad. With him, they secured the No. 2 seed in the Metro and now have home-ice advantage over the Penguins in the first round.

Who would you rather back in this series? An experienced, well-rounded team loaded with veterans, or a young, trendy team that has the best goaltender in the NHL?

Personally, I've seen time and time again that a hot goaltender can carry a team all the way to the Cup. The Rangers are the play in this one.

Pick: Rangers -110

Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators Series Odds

  • Avalanche -650
  • Predators +475

The Avalanche finished with the best record in the NHL, and are now massive -650 (bet $650 to profit $100) favorites against the Nashville Predators in the opening round.

I don't believe in the Avalanche in these playoffs, and if Predators goaltender Juuse Saros was health, I'd be wagering on Nashville to pull off the upset. Unfortunately, Saros was injured in the third last game of the regular season, and will miss the beginning of the series against Colorado, if not the entire thing.

The Preds don't have a good option in net now, as they have to choose between Connor Ingram (.879 SV%) and David Rittich (.886 SV%). Sorry Preds fans, your season will end shortly.

Pick: Avalanche -650

Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars Series Odds

  • Flames -340
  • Stars +270

The Western Conference is obviously extremely top heavy, and I don't see either wild card team putting up much of a fight against the division winners.

The Flames are second in CORSI%, sixth in expected goals for, and fourth in expected goals against over their last 25 games. The Stars are 19th, 19th, and 18th in those three respective stats over the same time period. That goes to show how lopsided this series should be.

The Flames will advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Pick: Flames -340

Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues Series Odds

  • Wild -160
  • Blues +130

The St. Louis Blues are a bit of a fraudulent team, in a sense. Their advanced analytics are nothing to write home about (23rd in CORSI% over L25 games), but they make up for a lot of their downfalls with fantastic shooting. They've ranked first in shooting percentage the entire season, and have been even better over their last 25 games, sporting a shooting percentage of 14.75 percent.

In what's bad news for the Blues, they're facing the next best shooting team in the NHL in the opening round of the playoffs. The Wild rank second in shooting percentage, but yet rank much higher in basically every single advanced analytic compared to the Blues.

Minnesota is arguably the best defensive team in the league as well. It ranks first in both expected goals against and high danger scoring chances allowed over its last 25 games. Not only do I think they win this series, but I think they have a great chance at taking down the Stanley Cup favorites in the next round.

Pick: Wild -160

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings Series Odds

  • Oilers -250
  • Kings +200

The Los Angeles Kings have been one of my favorite teams to bet on this season, but they're also a frustrating team to watch. Their advanced analytics are amongst the best in the NHL, but they don't do the simple things right.

For example, they rank fourth in CORSI%, sixth in expected goals, and 13th in expected goals against this season. Pretty good, right?

Well, all those numbers mean nothing when you also rank dead last in shooting percentage (8.20%) and 19th in save percentage (90.10%). With that being said, if their shooting can get hot, and they can get at least average goaltending, they're a sneaky dark horse in the postseason.

It's hard to argue against the Oilers, especially considering how hot their goaltending has been as of late (1st in save percentage over last 25 games), but if we're talking betting value, the Kings hold some at +200.

Pick: Kings +200

You can track Iain's bets on Betstamp here.