Sports

NHL picks, bets, lines: Latest odds for Leafs vs. Lightning, Bruins vs. Hurricanes, Blues vs Wild and Kings vs. Oilers

The Stanley Cup Playoffs start Monday and the endless overtimes and drama that comes with it. The first four games feature the maple leaves that haven’t won a playoff series since 2004 taking on the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning. In Carolina, No. 1 goalie Freddie Andersen won’t play against a tough Bruins team.

Out west, two of the best teams in the NHL in the minnesota wild and St. Louis Blues start their series and the King’s and Oilers meet up in the nightcap. Dog Connor McDavid translate his regular-season success to putting together a run at his first Stanley Cup? It all begins Monday.

Monday’s NHL Playoffs schedule:

  • Match 1: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes — 7 p.m. ET — ESPN, SN360
  • Match 1: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs — 7:30 p.m. ET — ESPN2, CBC, SN
  • Match 1: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild—9:30 p.m. ET—ESPN, SN360
  • Match 1: Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers — 10 p.m. ET — ESPN2, CBC, SN

Every day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Athletic’s writers will make their picks, straight up. We put our picks, the TV schedule and all series coverage, plus the latest odds, all in one place for fans to easily digest and follow. Our in-depth NHL coverage is linked below the picks. Series previews by Dom Luszczyszyn and Shayna Goldman. For live NHL odds from BetMGM, click here.

Bruins at Hurricanes

Team money line Total

+100

Or 5.5 (-120)

-120

U 5.5 (+100)

Carolina has been one of the NHL‘s best teams all season, a picture of consistency thanks to a well-balanced group from top to bottom. the hurricanes won the Metropolitan Division as a result of that effort, but in the Eastern Conference, there are no rewards for regular-season success. Every draw is tough, and unfortunately for the Hurricanes, they drew the big bad Bruins in Round 1.

It’s a team that Carolina dominated during the regular season, but the playoffs are a different beast, one that Boston is well-versed in. The Bruins have come on strong in the second half, as they always do, and that leaves the series hanging in the balance. This unsurprisingly projects to be the tightest matchup of the opening round.

Who will prevail? Flip a coin.

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

kevin kurz

jesse granger

Shayna Goldman


Lightning at Maple Leafs

Team money line Total

+100

Or 6.5 (+100)

-120

U 6.5 (-120)

the maple leaves just put up their best season in franchise history, earning 54 wins and 115 points. They were a regular-season powerhouse that showed they belong within the league’s upper echelon, finishing fourth in the standings.

Their reward? The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. Ofcourse.

It probably doesn’t matter who Toronto plays as the real season begins. The Leafs lost when they were heavy underdogs to Washington and Boston. They lost when they were neck-and-neck with Boston. And they lost when they were heavy favorites against Columbus and Montreal. It doesn’t matter who is on the other side because the Leafs’ biggest enemy is themselves.

The odds do not matter.

They’re a reflection of an unsentient model that does not know anything other than how well the Leafs have played over the last few regular seasons. Are the Leafs cursed? The model does not know. Do they know how to win when it counts? The model does not know. Do the Lightning have the ability to flip the switch now that the playoffs are here? The model does not know.

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

kevin kurz

jesse granger

Shayna Goldman


Blues at Wild

Team money line Total

+120

Or 6.5 (+100)

-145

U 6.5 (-120)

Under the NHL’s current playoff format, there have been many instances of unfair first-round matchups that feature two top teams that don’t deserve an early exit. This series between the sixth-ranked Wild and eighth-ranked Blues certainly qualifies.

It’s unjust for either side, but it should make for an incredibly entertaining series for the fans — one that’s sure to be fiercely fought and tightly contested.

The Wild enter the series as heavy favorites, according to the model, expected to win the series 75 percent of the time. That’s a bold take for a team that’s 2-5-4 against the Blues over the past two seasons, and it’s worth noting that the model does not consider head-to-head matchups when estimating series probability. In most cases, it’s just noise. In this case? There may be something to the Blues having the Wild’s number.

The other caveat to the odds is the difficulty that comes with modeling both of these teams, specifically using public expected goals.

For the Wild, it’s a matter of rink bias making them look worse offensively and better defensively than they actually are. Minnesota is still an elite defensive team, just maybe not at this level. For the Blues, it’s their passing ability that creates better offensive chances than is shown in public expected goals. According to SportLogiq, their expected goals percentage at five-on-five is two percentage points higher than the public models suggest (48.6 percent, per Evolving-Hockey).

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

kevin kurz

jesse granger

Shayna Goldman


Kings at Oilers

Team money line Total

+155

OR 6 (-105)

-190

U 6 (-115)

At various times this season, it felt like both the Oilers and King’s might not even get to this point.

The Kings started the year as playoff long shots despite a strong offseason and they dealt with plenty of injuries along the way. The Oilers started strong, but floundered near the middle of the season. But after a season filled with ups and downs, they’re both here. The Kings rallied after losing their best defender to injury, while the Oilers came alive down the stretch after a change behind the bench.

Edmonton has looked like a well-oiled machine since the coaching change, a team that looks among the best in the West. Los Angeles’ turn to be that will come one day with the young core the team has amassed, but that day is likely not this year.

The Kings are more than just happy to be here, but they still enter this series as heavy underdogs.

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

kevin kurz

jesse granger

Shayna Goldman


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(Photo of Steven Stammos and Austin Matthews: Mark Blinch/NHLi via Getty Images)

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