Check out our game picks for the start of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.
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The NHL playoffs are officially in full swing after a difficult regular season, and the race toward the Stanley Cup has never been harder to discern. Sometimes, it's best to take the championship field game by game. That's what we're doing with this edition of our 2021 NHL playoff picks.
We'll be dropping predictions for all six games taking place between Tuesday, May 18, and Thursday, May 20. Here are the latest NHL betting odds for each of them, courtesy of Bovada:
|Calgary Flames||-135||+115||Vancouver Canucks|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||-135||+115||New York Islanders|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-130||+110||Florida Panthers|
|Vegas Golden Knights||-165||+145||Minnesota Wild|
|Winnipeg Jets||-150||+130||Edmonton Oilers|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-210||+175||Montreal Canadiens|
Though hockey lines don't typically move too much unless you're wagering on props, we still recommend double-checking these NFL playoff lines before deciding on any wagers.
2021 NHL Playoff Betting Breakdown
Before we get started, here are the latest Stanley Cup odds. These come via BetOnline and are accurate entering games on Monday, May 17:
|Stanley Cup Pick||Bovada|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+180|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+225|
|New York Islanders||+550|
On to the games!
Calgary Flames (-135) vs. Vancouver Canucks (+115) - May 18
Experts continue to have a tough time getting a handle on this series.
Both the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks enter the postseason fray with negative point differentials, having allowed more goals than they scored during the regular season on a per-game basis. That's usually a red flag.
But truth be told, if not for a spate of injuries, the Canucks would be favored pretty handedly here. We still think they have run away potential at the tap with Brandon Boeser, J.T. Miller, and Quinn Hughes, each of whom finished the regular season with at least 40 total points.
OSB Prediction: Vancouver Canucks (+115)
Pittsburgh Penguins (-135) vs. New York Islanders (+115) - May 18
The New York Islanders surprised everyone, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, by taking Game 1. But do they really have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh's offense again and win?
For Game 2 specifically, we're going to say no.
New York ranked 21st in goals scored per game and in power-play percentage during the regular season. They aren't built to drop four scores every single night. Eventually, they will have trouble keeping pace with the Penguins' first and second lines.
We're betting that happens now.
OSB Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins (-135)
Tampa Bay Lightning (-130) vs. Florida Panthers (+110) - May 18
Though the Florida Panthers put up a fight by scoring four goals in Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, you're free to consider that a fluke.
For starters, Tampa Bay has one of the league's stingiest defenses both between the posts and away from the net. They aren't letting up four goals again—especially not to Florida's offense.
And even if they do, they still won Game 1 by dropping in five goals of their own. The reigning 2020 champs remain the best two-way squad in the league and can win in a variety of ways. It wouldn't surprise us if this series ends up being a sweep.
OSB Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning (-130)
Vegas Golden Knights (-165) vs. Minnesota Wild (+145) - May 18
Don't pay attention to the Vegas Golden Knights getting upset in Game 1 by the Minnesota Wild. It's most likely not going to happen again.
Most metrics peg the Golden Knights as the NHL's best team in the league relative to their strength of schedule and point differential. Upsets happen all the time in hockey, but Minnesota is no more than a steppingstone for them.
In fact, you might even want to consider taking Vegas' spread at -1.5 for a payout of +165.
OSB Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights (-165)
Winnipeg Jets (-150) vs. Edmonton Oilers (+130) - May 19
The Edmonton Oilers continue to get undervalued at every turn. Sure, they might be top-heavy, but that's a great place to be when you have Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl at your disposal. They remain two of the 10 best players in the entire league.
Combine their scoring talent with their ability to set up teammates, and you have a dangerous playoff cocktail. Let's also not forget Edmonton enters this series with the league's seventh-best offense and ranks first in power-play percentage.
Oddsmakers don't see this being a problem for the Winnipeg Jets' defense. We do.
OSB Prediction: Edmonton Oilers (+130)
Toronto Maple Leafs (-210) vs. Montreal Canadiens (+175) - May 20
Imagine talking yourself into the Montreal Canadiens for this one.
Indeed, anything can happen in a single game. But the Toronto Maple Leafs are scary dominant. They are among the only squads that rank in the top eight of both goals scored and allowed, and it's tough to get down on a team that has Mitch Marner skating for it.
This will mark the opening game of a series that we don't expect to last particularly long. Don't hesitate to also take Toronto's -1.5 spread for a +135 return.
OSB Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs (-210)