NHL Playoffs Preview And Predictions

Stanley Cup Trophy

Mega Casino banner advertising the 100% up to $100 offer in Canada

It took until the bitter end for all eight matchups to be set on the final night of the NHL regular season, but the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs is officially set. There’s no shortage of incredible matchups, and we’re going to provide you with betting analysis and a best bet for each one.

New York Islanders vs Carolina Hurricanes

The two Eastern Conference Wild Card spots looked to be a battle until the final day, but the New York Islanders took matters into their own hands to snag one of them much earlier than expected, going 8-1-1 down the stretch. That sets them up with a matchup against a Metropolitan Division rival in the Carolina Hurricanes.

The ‘Canes made it to the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago but were swept by the Florida Panthers. They bolstered their roster at the trade deadline this year with Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov, but ultimately, this series sets up to be one of the lower-scoring ones of the entire postseason.

Best bet: Series handicap - New York Islanders +1.5 over Carolina Hurricanes

New York Islanders 2024

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins

This is arguably the most exciting matchup of the entire first round, not just the Eastern Conference, and is another divisional rivalry. Two of the Original Six face off with the Boston Bruins looking to bounce back from their first-round exit last season. That early elimination came immediately following a record-setting season for both wins and points.

On the flip side, the Toronto Maple Leafs finally made it beyond the first round last year for the first time since 2004. They’ve been a postseason disappointment for quite some time, despite having a star-studded roster, led by Auston Matthews and his incredible 69-goal season. Along with Boston’s David Pastrnak, expect a series full of fireworks.

Best bet: Boston Bruins over Toronto Maple Leafs

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers

We have another Atlantic Division clash with in-state rivals squaring off. That would be the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, but for the first time in several seasons, expectations are higher for the Panthers. The Lightning’s recent dynasty may be coming to a close, but an all-world goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy always gives them a chance.

Florida was able to steal away the Atlantic Division title from the Bruins, edging them out by just a single point, and it’s hard to doubt the Panthers becoming the big brother this year. They’ve beaten the Lightning in two of three meetings, including an impressive 9-2 victory down in Tampa Bay.

Best bet: Florida Panthers over Tampa Bay Lightning

Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers

The biggest mismatch of the first round is a clash between two Metropolitan Division teams, and rightfully so. The New York Rangers have been a juggernaut virtually all season, whereas the Washington Capitals just barely snuck into the postseason at all. If not for an epic collapse by the Philadelphia Flyers, we likely wouldn’t see Alex Ovechkin until next season.

Although he bounced back from an abysmal first half of the season - just eight goals before the All-Star break - the Caps were sellers at the trade deadline. Most notably, they sent Evgeny Kuznetsov to the Hurricanes. It’s difficult to see them upsetting New York here, and it’s going to be tough just to keep things competitive.

Best bet: Series handicap - New York Rangers -1.5 over Washington Capitals

Vancouver Canucks vs Nashville Predators

Swapping to the Western Conference is the surprise of the entire NHL. The Vancouver Canucks just pulled off a year-to-year turnaround similar to what we saw from the New Jersey Devils last season, which helped them earn their first Pacific Division title since 2013. That sets them up with an opening round series with the Nashville Predators.

Many fans consider the Canucks to be a bit of fool’s gold, but the fact remains that they led the entire league in All-Star selections with six, and their offense can compete with anyone. It’s their depth that has fans concerned, so if the Preds can push this to six or seven games, it could truly be a toss-up of a series.

Best bet: Vancouver Canucks over Nashville Predators

Vancouver Canucks player blocking a pass

Colorado Avalanche vs Winnipeg Jets

Speaking of toss-ups, many fans wouldn’t have labeled this Central Division matchup as a rivalry, but it has very much turned into that. The Colorado Avalanche are no longer the big bullies of two seasons ago, when they won the Stanley Cup, and finished behind both the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars in the division this year.

That sets the Jets up with home-ice advantage in this first round, and the Avs will be entering the series fresh off a tough contest against the Edmonton Oilers. Despite Winnipeg earning the better seed and winning all three meetings with Colorado this season - by a combined score of 17-4 - the Avs find themselves as the favorites to win this series.

Best bet: Winnipeg Jets over Colorado Avalanche

Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers

We just mentioned the Oilers, and they are the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. That was the case prior to the start of the season, but a slow start had fans quickly doubting them. However, after a coaching change and a nearly record-setting win streak leading into the All-Star break, Connor McDavid and company found their footing.

It’s going to be difficult for the Los Angeles Kings to keep pace with the offense that McDavid and Leon Draistail can create, as they yet again both finished with over 100 points. Interestingly enough, this is now the third season in a row that this Pacific Division rivalry has been a first-round matchup, with the Oilers winning it each of the past two seasons.

Best bet: Edmonton Oilers over Los Angeles Kings

Vegas Golden Knights vs Dallas Stars

Lastly, the Dallas Stars proved that Texas hockey is as great as it’s ever been. Not only did they win the Central Division over the Avs and the Jets, but they earned the #1 overall seed in the Western Conference. Jason Robertson is one of the future faces of the NHL and Joe Pavelski brings the leadership needed for a deep playoff run.

As for their opponent, the Vegas Golden Knights, they were only able to earn a Wild Card spot despite being the defending champs. Their form entering the postseason is the most concerning, as it could have been a top-three divisional spot if not for a 4-1 home loss to a very weak Anaheim Ducks team on the final day of the regular season.

Best bet: Dallas Stars over Vegas Golden Knights

Mega Casino banner advertising the 100% up to $100 offer in Canada


The Trusted Online Gambling Comparison Site

Stay ahead of the game with expert casino and sports betting site reviews, betting tips, where to find the best welcome offers and more on Gambling Zone.


Back to top