Fans of Stanley Cup Playoffs betting can officially start wagering.
The postseason is finally here and most sportsbooks have released their odds for the upcoming opening round of playoff action.
Here we'll take a look at who's expected to move on and what series will be the most exciting and difficult to predict this week.
NHL Playoffs 2019 First-Round Series Odds
- 1 Calgary Flames (-224) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (+175)
- 2 San Jose Sharks (-110) vs. 3 Las Vegas Golden Knights (-110)
- 1 Nashville Predators (-179) vs. WC1 Dallas Stars (+150)
- 2 Winnipeg Jets (-110) vs. 3 St. Louis Blues (-110)
- 1 Tampa Bay Lightning (-400) vs. WC2 Columbus Blue Jackets (+300)
- 2 Boston Bruins (-167) vs. 3 Toronto Maple Leafs (+135)
- 1 Washington Capitals (-167) vs. WC1 Carolina Hurricanes (+135)
- 2 New York Islanders (+115) vs. 3 Pittsburgh Penguins (-143)
The Biggest Favorites
The team with the best odds of going through to the next round isn't much of a surprise to NHL betting fans.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won a record-tying 62 games in the regular season and thus have home-ice advantage locked up throughout the playoffs.
They're the favorites to win the Stanley Cup by a decent margin and while the Blue Jackets are hot, the Bolts are expected to move on with relative ease in five games (+285).
The Calgary Flames are the top seed in the Western Conference and put together a stunning season of their own. They're the team with the best chance of advancing in the West thanks to their depth compared to their opponent, the Colorado Avalanche.
The Flames have been a bit inconsistent throughout the season, and Mike Smith is a big question in net, but the sportsbooks fully expect the Flames to go through in five games (+300).
One of the teams that's shown it can go the distance in recent seasons, the Nashville Predators, are another team expected to get past the first round. They've made it that far in each of the last four postseasons, but this time they'll have to get past Ben Bishop and the talented Stars offense.
If the Preds maintain their strong playoff defense and goaltending and the Bridgestone Arena crowd continues to rise to the occasion there's plenty of reason to follow the oddsmakers in picking Nashville to advance in either five or six games (+400).
The Most Competitive Series
One of the toughest series to call is the matchup featuring the St. Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets. Both teams are oozing with talent and solid goaltending, though St. Louis' Jordan Binnington will be put to the postseason test for the first time in his young career.
That could be a factor that works in the Jets favor, but the oddsmakers believe if the Blues can head into Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead they can knock off the Jets at the Enterprise Center (+360) and move on.
In another tight series out west, the Las Vegas Golden Knights will look to repeat last season's incredible run thanks to some retooling and shakeups to the roster that got so close to a Cup last summer.
The San Jose Sharks landed last offseason's most coveted free agent in Erik Karlsson, and he's known for being a clutch postseason performer. That's something the Sharks will desperately need despite all of their potential on paper.
However, Vegas has the experience of last season to give it the confidence oddsmakers believe will tip the scales in its favor as the favored outcome is Golden Knights in six games (+390).
Sidney Crosby is always going to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a great chance of going deep in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The opening series with the surprising New York Islanders has an interesting dynamic to it, however.
Isles coach Barry Trotz's Capitals knocked out the Pens last season which made up for years of playoff embarrassment at the hands of Pittsburgh. Coming off of that incredible Cup-winning run, Trotz's confidence has no doubt filtered down to his new team and that could make the Islanders a seriously tough out.
New York is playing with a chip on its shoulder the size of Long Island, but bookies still think the Penguins will take the series in six games (+340).