2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round Betting Preview and Best Bets

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin a two-month journey across North America this weekend. To win the Stanley Cup, a team must win four best-of-seven series.

Those series begin this weekend with six games, and the final two series kick up on Monday night. Here’s our breakdown and analysis of each series.

New York Islanders vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal


What to Watch

Carolina is eighth in goals scored (3.38) and fourth in goals allowed (2.57). The Islanders are 22nd in goals scored (2.99) and 19th in goals allowed (3.16).

The Hurricanes’ trade acquisition of Jake Guentzel from the Penguins has been beneficial. Guentzel has scored eight goals and 17 assists in 17 games. He has scored 491 points in 520 games and won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh.

The Islanders made a big charge into the playoffs after Patrick Roy became head coach. The Islanders were 20-12-5 under Roy.

Carolina has won 49-of-75 games as moneyline favorites. The Islanders have won 20-of-44 games on the moneyline as underdogs.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal


What to Watch

The Maple Leafs’ offense will test the Bruins outstanding defense. Auston Matthews scored a league-leading 69 goals for Toronto, which was second in the NHL in goals scored (3.63).

The Bruins rank sixth in goals allowed (2.71) behind the goaltending tandem of Jeremy Swayman (2.53 goals-against average) and Linus Ullmark (2.57). The Bruins won all four regular-season games against Toronto.

Boston forward David Pastrnak scored 47 goals as the Bruins ranked 14th in goals scored (3.21). Toronto ranked 21st in goals allowed (3.18).

Related Pages: Stanley Cup Odds | NHL Odds | Best NHL Betting Sites

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal


What to Watch

This great rivalry could be one of the best first-round series. The Panthers, Stanley Cup finalists in 2023, led the league in goals against at 2.41 per game. Sergei Bobrovsky was 36-17-4, with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021 and reached the finals in 2022. Nikita Kucherov led the NHL with 144 points (44 goals, 100 assists). How he does against the Panthers’ defense could determine the series.

The Panthers won the season series 2-1.

Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal

What to Watch

Both teams had battles down the stretch — the Rangers to win the NHL’s best record and the Capitals to just make the playoffs.

New York set team records for wins (55) and standings points (114). Antemi Panarin led the Rangers with 49 goals and 120 points. He scored only two points in last year’s first-round loss to the Devils. Igor Schesterkin finished 17-5-1 (2.20 goals-against; .930 save percentage).

These two players are the key for the Rangers.

Ovechkin scored 23 goals in his last 36 games as the Capitals roared into playoff contention. Goalie Charlie Lindgren was 4-1-1 with a 1.68 goals-against and .937 save percentage over the final two weeks.

The teams split four games in the regular season. The Capitals made the playoffs despite a minus-36 goal differential.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Winnipeg Jets

Western Conference Quarterfinal

What to Watch

In a playoff preview last week, Winnipeg defeated Colorado, 7-0, in Denver. Don’t expect that in Game 1, but the victory had to give the Jets confidence. Winnipeg was 3-0 against Colorado in the regular season, outscoring the Avalanche 17-4.

Winnipeg ranked second in goals against at 2.42. Colorado leads the NHL in goals scoring at 3.68 — so expect a great series.

Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, the likely Vezina Trophy winner, was 37-19-4, with a 2.39 goals-against average. Avalanche forward Nathan McKinnon, the likely league MVP, scored 51 goals, 89 assists, and 140 points. He is a speedy, dynamic player who could determine the outcome. 

Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks

Western Conference Quarterfinal

What to Watch

Josi and Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes are among the top defensemen in the NHL. Hughes had 17 goals, 75 assists, and was plus-38. The Canucks have 10 double-digit goal scorers, led by Brock Boeser (40 goals) and J.T. Miller  (30). Thatcher Demko is 35-14-2, 2.45 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Nashville was one of the NHL’s hottest teams starting Feb. 17. The Predators went 16-0-2 to move into playoff contention. Nashville was 0-3 against Vancouver in the regular season. The Canucks led the NHL in scoring the game’s first goal with 53. Getting an early lead can be vital in the playoffs.

Related Pages: New York Sports Betting | Massachusetts Sports Betting | Tennessee Sports Betting

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars

Western Conference Quarterfinal


What to Watch

Since the end of February, with Dallas’ 4-1 win over Winnipeg, the team went on a 17-4 run to end the season and take the Western Conference crown. They missed out on the President’s Trophy against the Rangers, but they will be one of the toughest outs on this side of the bracket. Their goal differential (+64) is best in the West.

The best part of the Stars’ game is the balanced offensive attack. Five of their top players have scored 25 or more goals this season. It’s a tough matchup for Vegas, who doesn’t have the same firepower they’ve had in the best. Much of the offense may rely on Jonathan Marchessault and Jack Eichel, and they’ll hope William Karlsson continues to pick up the pace as he did at the end of the regular season.

Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers

Western Conference Quarterfinal


What to Watch

It’s a tale of two opposite seasons for both of these teams. Los Angeles started with an incredible flurry of wins, including breaking the NHL record for longest season-opening road wins at 11. Over a month later, they barely won any games in January and fired coach Todd McLellan.

It was an atrocious start for Edmonton, but a 16-game win streak transformed the season. They were just two games shy of breaking the NHL record for overall win streak themselves. While Zach Hyman led the team in goals (54), Connor McDavid was the unsurprising star with 32 goals and 100 assists.

The Oilers have a 3-1 advantage in the season series. The big difference in this series is the goals, with Edmonton scoring nearly 40 more on the season, but the Kings have the third-best defense in goals allowed since new head coach Jim Hiller started.

Game 1 Best Bets

NYI vs CAR: The teams split four games this season. In the playoffs last season, Carolina defeated the Islanders 4-2. Expect Carolina, the superior defensive team, to take Game 1.

TOR vs BOS: We like the Bruins on the moneyline.

TB vs FLA: Game 1s often are ripe for an upset. Take the Lightning and the +1.5.

WSH vs NYR: The Rangers have too much offensive firepower and goaltending and should win and cover Game 1.

COL vs WPG: We like Colorado to steal Game 1, despite its troubles against the Jets during the regular season.

NSH vs VAN: With how hot the Predators have been down the stretch, we like them to break the winless streak against the Canucks in the first game.

VGK vs DAL: Instead of picking a side, we’ll take the Over 5.5 with the low total available.

LA vs EDM: With the Kings sliding a bit down the stretch, we like the Oilers to start with a win.

About the Author
Chuck Bausman

Chuck Bausman

Sports Betting Writer
Chuck Bausman is a sports betting writer at Gaming Today. Bausman has more than 30 years of experience in journalism. He is a former executive sports editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and managing editor of Philly Hockey Now. He is also a journalism professor at Rider University.

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