The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are the only teams left in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that won’t stop us from looking ahead at the three second-round matchups we do know about from a betting angle. If you have designs on placing a wager on a series winner or even exploring a player prop, hopefully you’ll find something in this piece to help you make a call.
Below is the breakdown of the three second-round series with the latest lines. I’ve also mixed in some value picks for each best-of-seven. You’ll notice that I’m not a fan of laying the juice. (All betting lines are courtesy of Sports Interaction, and current as time of publication.)
EAST DIVISION FINAL
No. 3 Boston Bruins vs No. 4 New York Islanders
The Bruins and Islanders will meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1983. These teams are no stranger to recent playoff success. Boston is playing in the second round for the fourth straight season while the Islanders are in round two for the third year in a row.
SERIES WINNER ODDS: Boston -250, New York +173
HEAD TO HEAD: New York went 5-3-1 in the season series and outscored Boston 21–18.
Boston: Kevan Miller, day-to-day (upper-body injury)
New York: Oliver Wahlstrom, day-to-day (undisclosed injury)
WHY YOU TAKE THE BRUINS AT -250: The Taylor Hall factor. The Bruins are 16-5-1 (including playoffs) since acquiring Hall from Buffalo in an April trade. With the 2017–18 Hart Trophy winner in their lineup, Boston has scored 74 goals and have allowed just 42 and their power play is 12 for 59 (20.3%). The 29-year-old Hall had four goals in three games against the Islanders as a Bruin.
WHY YOU TAKE THE ISLANDERS AT +173: The Islanders should be able to slow down the Bruins just like they did to the Penguins in round one. Pittsburgh was the second-highest-scoring regular-season team (193 goals), but managed to score just 15 goals in six games against New York. Islanders rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin was the difference for New York in round one. Sorokin was 4-0 with a 1.95 GAA and a .943 SV% against Pittsburgh.
MY PICK: The Bruins are a different team with Hall in the lineup. The B’s are also getting solid goaltending from Tuukka Rask, who posted a 1.81 GAA and a .941 SV% against Washington in round one. Take Boston at -1.5 on the series handicap at -147.
PLAYER PROPS TO WATCH: It’s tough to ignore anyone from the “Perfection Line” or New York’s Mathew Barzal, but as you’ve already gleaned from this piece, you might want to jump on the Taylor Hall bandwagon. Hall is +600 to lead this series in goals and is scoring 0.48 goals per game as a Boston Bruin.
CENTRAL DIVISION FINAL
No. 1 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 3 Tampa Bay Lightning
This is the first time that the Hurricanes and Lightning will square off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Carolina will try to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions en route to reaching the final four like they did in 2019.
SERIES WINNER ODDS: Carolina +115, Tampa Bay -159
HEAD TO HEAD: Carolina won the series 4-3-1 and outscored Tampa Bay 18–17.
Carolina: No significant injuries
Tampa Bay: No significant injuries
WHY YOU TAKE THE HURRICANES AT +115: The Hurricanes will have home-ice advantage and that could be the difference — PNC Arena has been a fortress this season. Carolina had only three regulation losses at home all year, which was the fewest in the NHL, and were 3-0 against Nashville in the opening round.
The key to the Hurricanes getting to round three could be shutting down the red-hot Tampa power play. The Lightning went 8-for-20 with the man advantage against the Panthers. Carolina, though, did a nice job of neutralizing Tampa’s power play in eight regular-season matchups. The Hurricanes penalty kill went a solid 86.4% versus the Lightning.
WHY YOU TAKE THE LIGHTNING AT -159: The defending Stanley Cup champions looked like just that against the Panthers in the opening round. Tampa scored 24 goals in six games against Florida while the power play operated at 40.0%. Let’s be honest, though — Nikita Kucherov’s return makes Tampa look scary. After missing the entire regular season following hip surgery, Kucherov had three goals and eight assists in six games against the Panthers.
MY PICK: I don’t like laying the juice on the Lightning to win this series outright, but I do think the Bolts will get it done. I think there is a ton of value in taking Tampa to win this series 4-2 at +348.
PLAYER PROPS TO WATCH: There is no question both teams have a lot of firepower with names like Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Sebastian Aho. But I think there is value in taking Tampa’s Alex Killorn to lead this series in points. Killorn had two goals and three assists in eight games against the Hurricanes this season, and already has four goals and four assists this post-season. Killorn also had one goal and two assists with the man advantage in the opening round.
WEST DIVISION FINAL
No. 1 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 2 Vegas Golden Knights
The Avalanche and Golden Knights will meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time after Colorado edged Vegas by a tie-breaker to win the Presidents’ Trophy. These teams squared off in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in the bubble, with Vegas winning 4–3 in overtime.
SERIES WINNER ODDS: Colorado -180, Vegas +150
HEAD TO HEAD: Colorado won the season series 4-3-1, but was outscored 18–17.
Colorado: No significant injuries
Vegas: Brayden McNabb, day-to-day (COVID 19 Protocol), Tomas Nosek, day-to-day (undisclosed injury)
WHY YOU TAKE THE AVALANCHE AT -180: The Avalanche looked like the Stanley Cup favourite following their first-round sweep of the 2019 Stanley Cup champion Blues. Colorado outscored St. Louis 20–7, and their power play operated at a ridiculous 50.0% clip. Nathan MacKinnon looked like the Conn Smythe Trophy favourite after racking up six goals and three assists in just four games versus St. Louis. Philipp Grubauer was rock solid in net in round one and was also very good against Vegas this season. Grubauer was 4-2-1 with a 1.86 GAA and .935 SV% in seven starts against the Golden Knights.
WHY YOU TAKE THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS AT +150: Vegas is coming off a hard-fought seven-game series with the Minnesota Wild but posted the NHL’s best goal differential at +67 during the regular season. Having Max Pacioretty back could be the key for VGK in this series. Pacioretty returned to the lineup for the first time since May 1 in Game 7 and scored a goal and was a +2. The Avs had no answer for Pacioretty this season — the Vegas winger scored six goals and added two assists in seven games.
MY PICK: The Avalanche look poised to win the Stanley Cup, but I think the loss of Nazem Kadri because of a suspension might leave the door open enough for a very good Vegas team. Take the Golden Knights at +150.
PLAYER PROPS TO WATCH: There is no question that Colorado and Vegas have an abundance of talent up front, with MacKinnon, Pacioretty, Mikko Rantanen and Mark Stone the favourites to lead this series in points. If you’re looking for an underdog play, however — and I mean a big doggie — what about taking a flyer on Mattias Janmark? The Vegas centre scored three goals and had three assists in seven games against the Wild in the opening round.