How much fun was the first round of the NHL playoffs?
The two teams with the shortest Stanley Cup outright odds — Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche — are out after falling to the Florida Panthers and Seattle Kraken in their respective series. And the Toronto Maple Leafs finally won a playoff series for the first time since 2004!? Seriously, what’s going on this year?
Here’s a look at the odds for all of the second-round matchups courtesy of FanDuel.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers
Stanley Cup odds: Maple Leafs +380, Panthers +1100
Series odds: Maple Leafs -176, Panthers +142
|1||Maple Leafs||May 2||7:00|
|2||Maple Leafs||May 4||7:00|
The curse is finally over, and the Maple Leafs have caught a fortunate break by drawing the Panthers, instead of a Bruins team that set all kinds of regular season records this season. Every Leafs fan remembers what the Bruins did to Toronto back in the 2018 and 2019 playoffs, so playing the Panthers seems like the more favourable matchup.
Toronto took three of the four meetings with Florida during the regular season, but three of those games required extra time to be decided. This series certainly won’t be a cakewalk for Toronto, though, especially after the Panthers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to send off the Bruins.
The Panthers will have to play with more discipline in the second round than they did in their opening series in order to have a chance against the offensively gifted Maple Leafs. They finished the regular season with the second-most penalty minutes in the league (998) and they kept up that pace with 121 penalty minutes across seven games with the Bruins. That resulted in Florida being shorthanded 27 times in the series, the most of all playoff teams. The Panthers didn’t do a potent job of killing these penalties either, as evidenced by their 59.4% kill rate in the series.
Toronto recorded six power play goals in six games against the Lightning for a respectable 28.6% conversion rate with the man advantage. If the Panthers continue to spend too much time in the penalty box, the Maple Leafs will make this a short series.
Both of these teams won’t get much rest between rounds, as the Maple Leafs last played Saturday while the Panthers last skated on Sunday.
Prediction: Maple Leafs in six games.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils
Stanley Cup odds: Devils +500, Hurricanes +550
Series odds: Devils -122, Hurricanes +100
The Hurricanes will use a goaltender carousel in the second round as coach Rod Brind’Amour plans to juggle both Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta in net throughout the series.
Raanta started the first five games for Carolina against the New York Islanders in the first round, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.59 GAA and .906 save percentage. Andersen got the cage for Game 6 after missing time with an illness and an undisclosed injury and made 33 saves in a 2-1 overtime win to send the team to the next round.
“In my experience, when you put a schedule together, it never works,” Brind’Amour said about his goaltending plans for the second round. “You just kind of day by day it and reassess after every game. That’s really the only way to do it.”
The Devils, meanwhile, overcame a 2-0 series deficit to prevail over the New York Rangers in seven games. New Jersey shut out the Rangers in Game 7 to advance past the first round for the first time since 2012.
The emergence of Akira Schmid in goal is a huge reason why the young Devils shook off their early series jitters and then dominated the Rangers down the stretch. Schmid made 31 saves in Game 7 to become the fifth rookie goaltender in NHL history to record a shutout in a Game 7. He replaced Vitek Vanecek in Game 3 and then finished the series with a 4-1 record, 1.38 GAA, and a sparkling .951 save percentage.
Prediction: Devils in seven.
Stanley Cup outright odds
|Team||Stanley Cup Outright odds|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+380|
|New Jersey Devils||+500|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+650|
Edmonton Oilers vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Stanley Cup odds: Oilers +400, Golden Knights +650
Series odds: Oilers -152, Golden Knights +124
|1||Golden Knights||May 3||9:30|
|2||Golden Knights||May 5||TBD|
This is the most intriguing second-round matchup because both sides have a serious amount of firepower.
The Oilers took three of the four regular season games against Vegas, but two of those games required overtime to be decided. Vegas finished two points ahead of Edmonton to claim the Pacific Division, which means the Knights will have home advantage in what should be a very tight series.
Edmonton closed the regular season on a nine-game winning streak and has won 13 of its past 15 games, including the playoffs. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combined for 21 points in six opening-round games against the Los Angeles Kings. Draisaitl’s seven playoff goals to this point have him tied with Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen for the league lead.
The Oilers power play was absolutely deadly against the Kings, converting on nine of 16 opportunities for a conversion rate of 56.3%! They had a 32.4% success rate in the regular season to lead the NHL.
Mark Stone’s return to action has really been a boost for Vegas. The forward, who missed the last three months of the regular season with a back injury that required surgery, returned for the playoffs to put up eight points (three goals and give assists) in five games against the Winnipeg Jets.
Prediction: Oilers in seven games.
Dallas Stars vs. Seattle Kraken
Stanley Cup odds: Stars +650, Kraken +1800
Series odds: Stars -188, Kraken +152
Seattle ousted the Colorado Avalanche, the defending Stanley Cup champions, in seven games to win the first playoff series in franchise history. After finishing 30th in the standings in their inaugural season, the Kraken earned their first playoff berth by clinching a Wild Card spot, and then grinded out a seven-game series over the Avalanche who were -280 series favourites. Bettors that backed the upstart Kraken in their first round series were paid out handsomely at +225 series odds.
There are a couple of notable injuries that bettors will want to consider before placing wagers in any fashion on this series. Kraken forward Jared McCann, who led the team with 70 points and 40 goals during the regular season, suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 4 against the Avs and never returned for the remainder of the series. For the Stars, veteran forward Joe Pavelski suffered a concussion in the first game of the team’s series with the Minnesota Wild and he was also held out for the remainder of the series. Pavelski has returned to practice, though, and he appears to be nearing a return to action. The 38-year-old has played in 169 playoff games throughout his decorated career, recording 64 goals and 62 assists.
Stars forward Roope Hintz leads all playoff scorers with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) and veteran Tyler Seguin netted four of the team’s nine power-play goals in the opening series. But if the Stars’ power play is fire, the Kraken’s penalty kill is ice. Seattle held Colorado to just two power-play goals in 18 attempts (88.9% kill rate).
Both teams had solid goaltending in the first round. Jake Oettinger went 4-2 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .929 save percentage with one shutout for the Stars, while Philipp Grubauer put a mediocre regular season behind him with a 4-3 record with a 2.44 GAA and .926 save percentage. He faced 231 shots in the opening series, which was the most of any goalie.
Prediction: Stars in six games.