The regular season of the NHL has now concluded, and only the best teams in the divisions are remaining. What follows now is a seven-game series with each team put through their paces to see if they can realise their dream of Stanley Cup success.
Last season’s winners the Washington Capitals remain in the competition, but they will face a stern test against the Carolina Hurricanes, as they bid to become only the second franchise to achieve back-to-back championships in ten years. They aren’t recognised to be the favourites within the NHL odds; as the Tampa Bay Lightning is the franchise to beat.
Closer Look at Western Conference games
The Predators will be looking to continue with their excellent regular season form as they enter the seven-game series with the stars. The Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars odds seem to indicate that they should have enough to get past the Stars who were handed a wildcard spot in the playoffs.
The Predators finished the Central Division with 100 points. However, they have started the series slowly. They lost the opening game 3-2; after two goals from Miro Heiskanen and the odd goal added by Mats Zuccarello. Predators then tied the series home and the series go to Dallas. Despite this, Predators remain as the favourites in the NHL odds to progress.
This is one of the closest playoff fixtures, and will their first ever series at this stage of the season. Winnipeg held the advantage over their rivals in the regular season. However, they fell to a 2-1 defeat in the opening game on the series and gave away the second one as well.
According to the St. Louis Blues vs Winnipeg Jets odds, it could be a tricky assignment for the Jets to get back into the series even after the steal at St. Louis in the third game.
This will be another maiden playoff tie, and it will be the Flames that are heavily fancied within the NHL odds to progress. Calgary finished top of the Pacific Division, earning 107 points in the regular season.
Meanwhile, the Avalanche received the second wild-card spot from the Western Conference and will be looking to achieve their first win over the Flames this season. Series goes into the second week with both teams having a win.
Last season’s Stanley Cup runners up will be hoping to go one better this season, but it remains unlikely as they are the outsiders to progress past their opponents according to the San Jose Sharks vs Vegas Golden Knights odds. Vegas finished third in the Pacific Division, while the Sharks finished second in the same division. At this stage, last season the Golden Knights progressed in the series after six games.
However, that looked very unlikely to occur again as Vegas lost the opening home game of the series 5-2. Team completely turned the odds in favour of them after winning the next two match-ups.
Closer Look at Eastern Conference
The Lightning have enjoyed an excellent regular season, which saw them win the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best side during the regular season. Therefore they were clear favourites in the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets odds.
However, Columbus had other ideas after winning the season opener 4-3, the second and third game went to Columbus as well. How far can the Blue Jackets take it this year with all the odds being against them?
The inconsistent Maple Leafs will need to sort out their recent form to have any chance against the Atlantic Division’s second-placed franchise. The Leafs also faced the Bruins at this stage last season but unfortunately came up short in the seventh game.
The NHL odds suggest that this will be the closest matchup.
The Capitals will be looking to add to their 100% record against the Hurricanes from the regular season. Capitals finished first in the Metropolitan Division, while the Hurricanes are the Eastern Conferences first wild card. Home advantage will be vital for any chances the Hurricanes have according to the NHL odds.
The Islanders finished second in the Metropolitan Division, and have made a lightning-quick start against the Penguins. They won their first away fixture of the series 4-3 after overtime. New York will be hoping to build on their previous three playoff wins against the Penguins.
However, the Penguins will take confidence as they last met in the 2013 Easter Conference quarterfinals; in a game which they won over six games.