NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Picks: Latest Predictions for Round 1

Quinn Allen
By , Updated on: Dec 19, 2023 07:00 PM
NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Picks: Latest Predictions for Round 1

The first round of the NHL playoffs has officially entered its closing kick. The Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets have already advanced into the next phase of the Stanley Cup chase. Who will be next? That's what we're here to try figuring out. These NHL Stanley Cup playoff picks include our latest predictions for Round 1.

Four games will be taking place over Tuesday, May 25 and Wednesday, May 26—a couple of which will be elimination contests. Here are the latest odds for these tilts, courtesy of BetOnline:

Toronto Maple Leafs-149+165Montreal Canadiens
Carolina Hurricanes-183+165Nashville Predators
Pittsburgh Penguins-106-103New York Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning-145+131Florida Panthers

As ever, make sure to double-check these NHL betting lines prior to making any decisions. They could shift between now and the opening faceoff.

Latest 2021 NHL Playoff Picks

Before we cannonball into these upcoming games, here's a look at the latest Stanley Cup odds. These NHL lines are via Bovada and accurate as of Monday, May 24:  

Stanley Cup PickBovada
Tampa Bay Lightning+180
Vegas Golden Knights+225
New York Islanders+550
Montreal Canadiens+950

Just another reminder to recheck these NHL Stanley Cup betting odds on a daily basis. They are changing everyday, especially on nights in which certain teams are eliminated or advance in the playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs (-149) vs. Montreal Canadiens (+165)

Series Score: Maple Leafs lead 2-1

Gameday: May 25

If you read our preview of the Maple Leafs-Canadiens series, you know that we're exceptionally high on Toronto. In fact, we didn't give Montreal even a puncher's chance of pulling off the first-round upset.

montreal canadiens betting odds

The Canadiens, of course, threw us for a little bit of a scare in Game 1 by squeezing out a 2-1 victory. But we always believed the Maple Leafs' offense would rebound—and it did. They hung a whopping five goals on Montreal during their Game 2 victory.

That is ultimately the difference for us. The Canadiens don't have the offensive firepower to hang in games that routinely see their opponent top three goals. They mustered just one to Toronto's five in Game 2. If their goaltending was trending upward, we'd feel better about this series lasting longer. But it's not, and we don't.

OSB Prediction: Maple Leafs (-149)

Maple Leafs To beat the Canadiens

Carolina Hurricanes (-183) vs. Nashville Predators (+165)

Series Score: Tied 2-2

Gameday: May 25

Holy heck, the Predators are on some kind of tear.

After dropping the first two games to Carolina, Nashville's offense has since exploded, scoring nine goals in Games 3 and 4 combined to even the score at two games apiece. Historically speaking, teams that fall down 0-2 in best-of-seven sets almost always lose. But the Predators are making us rethink things.

Gutting out double-overtime victories in each of the past two contests doesn't have to be telltale of anything. On the contrary, it could theoretically be bad for Nashville. Carolina's defense between the posts was far from its peak, and they still almost won.

At the same time, we have to take the offense-by-committee model of the Predators are championing very seriously. They have tallied 11 postseason goals so far yet don't have a single player who places in the top 10 of total points. We like their depth in Game 5—and perhaps to win this series.

OSB Prediction: Predators (+165)

Predators To beat the Hurricanes

Pittsburgh Penguins (-106) vs. New York Islanders (-103)

Series Scorer: Islanders lead 3-2

Gameday: May 26

What was once considered the Penguins' series to lose is now the Islanders' to win. New York has Pittsburgh on the brink of elimination after delivering a 4-1 shellacking in Game 4. 

Few saw this coming. Even we're surprised, and we picked the Islanders to edge out the Penguins in the first round.

new york islanders betting odds

New York's offense has been out of this world, more so than we ever could have imagined. They have outscored Pittsburgh 13-11 through the first four games. Had you told anyone the Penguins would average roughly three scores per night to this point, they most likely wouldn't have thought the Islanders could survive.

Revered for their defense and capacity to limit power play opportunities, New York has discovered a new offensive gear anchored by the passing of Scott Mayfield and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. We fully expect them to close this out in Game 5.

OSB Prediction: Islanders (-103)

Islanders To beat the Penguins

Tampa Bay Lightning (-145) vs. Florida Panthers (+131)

Series Scorer: Lightning lead 3-2

Gameday: May 26

Kudos to the Panthers for keeping this series close. This was a matchup we expected the Lightning to win rather easily. Florida has instead managed to keep Tampa Bay's offense in check on two separate occasions, allowing just one goal apiece in Games 3 and 5.

Here's the thing: When the Lightning have won, they've won big. They are doubling up the Panthers in victories, outscoring them by a total of 14-7.

With Nikita KucherovAlex Killorn and Victor Hedman all putting an unbelievable amount of pressure on the net, this feels like one of those series where the overall score doesn't reflect the talent gap. We're assuming Tampa Bay closes this out in Game 6, perhap in a blowout.

OSB Prediction: Lightning (-145)

Lightning To beat the Panthers

Check out this list of the best online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your NHL betting:

Meet the author

Quinn Allen

Quinn Allen leverages his broadcast journalism degree and passion for sports in his betting previews and analysis. Based in Kelowna, Canada, he has emerged as an expert voice with picks featured on OSB, MTS, SBD, and as a ClutchPoints editor. With a lifelong fandom of...

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