The 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Monday night with four matchups, including the Edmonton Oilers taking on the Los Angeles Kings.
Edmonton is one of three Canadian teams (the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets are the others) that have qualified for a shot at Lord Stanley’s Mug this year. All three teams will be looking to become the first Canadian team to win the Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.
Here’s a look at the odds for the first-round matchups, and the Stanley Cup outright odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
Boston Bruins (A1) vs. Florida Panthers (WC2)
Stanley Cup odds: Bruins (+340) Panthers (+2600)
Series odds: Bruins -350, Panthers +275
The Bruins enjoyed a record-breaking regular season that saw them amass 65 wins and 135 points, but will that translate to postseason success? Recent history suggests that the team with the NHL’s best regular season record doesn’t end up winning it all. The last team to win the Presidents’ Trophy, and also the Stanley Cup in the same year, was the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks.
Boston won its final eight games and 15 of 16 down the stretch and is on the odds-on favourite to win the Cup. However, the health of captain Patrice Bergeron could be concerning entering this best-of-seven series with Florida. The 37-year-old will be a game-time decision for Game 1 due to an upper-body injury.
The two teams split the regular season series at two games apiece.
Series prediction: Bruins in seven games (+410). The Bruins expended a lot of energy chasing regular season records and the Panthers might steal a couple of games early in the series to give them a scare.
Toronto Maple Leafs (A2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A3)
Stanley Cup odds: Maple Leafs (+900), Lightning (+1700)
Series odds: Maple Leafs -160, Lightning +132
|1||Maple Leafs||April 18||7:30|
|2||Maple Leafs||April 20||7:00|
|5||Maple Leafs||April 27||TBD|
|7||Maple Leafs||May 1||TBD|
Is this the year the Maple Leafs finally exorcise their playoff demons? The Lightning dispatched the Maple Leafs in seven games in the opening round of the playoffs last year and are looking to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the fourth consecutive season.
Toronto owns a 19-27 playoff record since it last won a playoff series in 2004 and the team has lost seven straight playoff series during that span. However, the Maple Leafs earned five of a possible six points against Tampa Bay this season.
Series prediction: Maple Leafs in six games (+470). This Lightning team isn’t what it used to be, and Toronto made some aggressive moves this season to improve its roster for the postseason. It’ll be a good series, but Toronto should walk away with a series victory as long as Andrei Vasilevskiy doesn’t become a brick wall.
Carolina Hurricanes (M1) vs. New York Islanders (WC1)
Stanley Cup odds: Hurricanes (+1200), Islanders (+5000)
Series odds: Hurricanes -205, Islanders +164
The Hurricanes finished first in their division for a third straight season, but the team hasn’t been able to advance past the second round of the playoffs during that span. Carolina took three of the four regular season meetings between the teams and enters the series as a big favourite.
Mathew Barzal’s return from a lower-body injury that sidelined him since Feb. 18 will be a huge boost for New York. He finished second on the team with 51 points (14 goals, 37 assists), and he should help spark the Islanders’ awful power play that ranked 30th in the league (15.8%) during the regular season.
Series prediction: Hurricanes in six games (+440). This should be a ho-hum series for Carolina, but the Islanders could steal a couple of games with Ilya Sorokin in goal.
New Jersey Devils (M2) vs. New York Rangers (M3)
Stanley Cup odds: Devils (+1100), Rangers (+1200)
Series odds: Devils -126, Rangers +105
This series has the potential to be the most entertaining of all the first-round matchups. Oddsmakers are giving the upstart Devils a slight advantage over the Rangers after New Jersey set single-season team records for wins (52) and points (112). New Jersey is back in the postseason for the first time since 2018, and many of its young superstars will be experiencing the intensity of the postseason for the first time.
The Rangers are back in the postseason after bowing out in the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago to the Lightning. New York pushed all of its chips into the middle of the table this year by acquiring veteran forwards Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko with the hopes of a deep playoff run. This team finished with a 36-12-8 record over its final 56 games and the expectations are Stanley Cup or bust.
The Devils took three of the four regular season meetings.
Series prediction: Rangers in six games (+470). Experience and goaltending wins this battle. New Jersey is going to be a force to be reckoned with over the next several seasons, but this is New York’s year to shine.
Stanley Cup outright odds
|Team||Stanley Cup Outright odds|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+900|
|New Jersey Devils||+1100|
|New York Rangers||+1200|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+1200|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+1700|
|Los Angeles Kings||+3000|
|New York Islanders||+5000|
Colorado Avalanche (C1) vs. Seattle Kraken (WC1)
Stanley Cup odds: Avalance (+700), Kraken (+4000)
Series odds: Avalanche -280, Kraken +225
The defending Stanley Cup champions will begin their quest to defend their title without captain Gabriel Landeskog, who hasn’t played this year after undergoing knee surgery in October. There was optimism that a late-season return was possible for Landeskog, but he’s been officially ruled out for the remainder of the year. Colorado still claimed the Central Division title for a third straight year without him, though, and the Avs have a roster loaded with weapons at every position.
Seattle, meanwhile, will be making its first postseason appearance in franchise history after many of its young stars enjoyed breakout seasons. The Kraken, surprisingly, took five of a possible six points from the Avs during the regular season, and they’ll have absolutely nothing to lose in this series. All of the pressure will be on Colorado in the most lopsided opening series from an odds perspective.
Series prediction: Avalanche in six games (+390). This series might not be as easy for the Avs as everyone thinks. After shaking off some initial nerves, the Kraken could prove to be a worthy opponent for the defending champs.
Dallas Stars (C2) vs. Minnesota Wild (C3)
Stanley Cup odds: Stars (+1600), Wild (+2200)
Series odds: Stars -146, Wild +122
The Stars are in the postseason for the second straight season and the fourth time in five seasons, while the Wild are in the playoffs for the fourth straight year and the 10th time time in the past 11 seasons.
These teams split the season series at two games apiece and they’ve played each other once in the playoffs back in 2016 when Dallas won in six games. The Stars last won the Stanley Cup back in 1999, while the Wild have never won a championship.
Both teams were stingy this season, with the Stars allowing just 2.62 goals per game (third in the NHL) and the Wild yielding 2.67 goals per contest (sixth).
Series prediction: Stars in six games (+490).
Vegas Golden Knights (P1) vs. Winnipeg Jets (WC2)
Stanley Cup odds: Golden Knights (+1200), Jets (+3500)
Series odds: Golden Knights -166, Jets +138
|1||Golden Knights||April 18||9:30|
|2||Golden Knights||April 20||10:00|
|5||Golden Knights||April 27||TBD|
|7||Golden Knights||May 1||TBD|
Vegas battled its way to a Pacific Division title despite having major health issues up and down the roster all year long. The Knights should be bolstered by the probable return of Mark Stone, who has been out since Jan. 12 after having back surgery. However, this team has major question marks in goal, as five different goalies started at least one game this season. Will it be Logan Thompson in the crease for Game 1? Veteran Jonathan Quick? Or maybe Laurent Brossoit? Don’t be surprised if you see Vegas continue to cycle goaltenders throughout the series in an attempt to find the hot hand.
One thing we do know is who will be in goal for the Jets. Connor Hellebuyck went 37-25-2 with a 2.49 GAA and .927 save percentage in 64 games this year. His 37 wins were tied for third in the NHL and his save percentage was tied for fourth. He owns similar numbers in 35 career postseason games, and the Jets will go as far as he’ll take them.
Winnipeg went 5-2-0 in its final seven games of the regular season, outscoring its opposition 26-13. However, the Jets dropped all three meetings versus the Golden Knights this season.
Series prediction: Jets in seven games (+610). I smell an upset here. The stingy Jets will find a way to outlast the Knights as Hellebuyck shines and steals the series.
Edmonton Oilers (P2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (P3)
Stanley Cup odds: Oilers (+800), Kings (+3000)
Series odds: Oilers -245, Kings +198
This is a rematch of last year’s opening series when the Kings pushed the Oilers to seven games. Edmonton won that pivotal Game 7 by a score of 2-0 and then advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
There’s no hotter team that Edmonton entering the postseason, as the Oilers finished the year on a 15-game point streak (14-0-1) and nine-game undefeated run. The Oilers boast three 100-point scorers on their roster (Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), and they averaged a league-best 3.96 goals per game during the regular season.
While the Oilers are fire, the defensive-minded Kings are ice. Joonas Korpisalo and Pheonix Copley have emerged as an elite goaltending tandem after the team started the year with Quick and Cal Petersen. The Kings have the second-lowest GAA (2.20) in the league since March 1. Korpisalo is 7-3-1 since being acquired from Columbus on Feb. 28 while Copley went 24-6-3 in 36 games. The Game 1 starter still hasn’t been named, but Korpisalo had a phenomenal performance in the 2020 playoffs when he posted a 1.90 GAA and set the NHL record for saves in a playoff game (85) during the first game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Oilers and Kings split their four meetings this season, with the Kings outscoring the Oilers by a slim 10-9 edge.
Series prediction: Oilers in seven games (+410). This series went the distance last year, and it’ll be a dogfight again.