The Stanley Cup playoffs are upon us with Game 1’s starting on April 17. Don’t put a dollar on the postseason until you read this. We’re giving you three free betting picks on the first round of the NHL playoffs, specifically on series winners!
Playoff Series Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning
This series might get the most attention at NHL’s best betting sites. It pits two Stanley Cup contenders with an awful lot of history involving each. As it stands, the two-seeded Leafs are betting favorites over the Lightning:
We’re actually a tad surprised at the current odds. This is Tampa and Toronto we’re talking about, after all. On one hand, the Bolts haven’t lost a playoff series in the East since 2019. They’ve been to the Stanley Cup Finals three times since then, and it’s hard to discredit that. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Leafs have been perennial playoff chokers for the longest of times. They haven’t won a postseason series since 2004 — almost two decades now!
We also have to mention these two teams faces off a year ago in this same round. The result? A 7-game epic ultimately taken by Tampa. Toronto has changed its roster a lot since then, adding pieces like Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, and Jake McCabe — all in pre-deadline deals. However, those are complementary players. Its core roster of Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, William Nylander, and defenseman Morgan Rielly is still around. That group of players is responsible for six one-and-done playoff series.
We just can’t trust Toronto, there we said it. This franchise has repeatedly come up short, which gives us serious pauses. That’s the opposite of Tampa, which is why they’re getting our bet. The Lightning always flips the switch when it matters — and that’s right now.
Series Pick: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets
At first glance, the odds don’t feel right in this Vegas-Winnipeg matchup. Here we have Vegas as the number one seed and yet their only slight favorites to advance over the eighth seed. Not only that, but the Knights swept the season series too. Take a look at the lines to advance before Game 1:
Oddsmakers might be playing this safe since Vegas has question marks. Most of all, the West’s top team is riddled with injuries. The most important one is forward Mark Stone. He’s been out of action since January but is expected back this series. At what capacity is the real question. Stone’s absence has coincided with the team’s slide in the second half of the year which is why its odds aren’t as high for a usual number-one seed.
If Winnipeg hadn’t floundered in the second half of the season too, we’d be inclined to pick them. But momentum isn’t exactly on their side either. Even with a hobbled Stone, Vegas has enough talent to win this one. They have the advantage at every spot aside from the goaltender. Bet the Golden Knights here, and take the top seed at a decent price.
Series Pick: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers
Here’s another juicy playoff matchup out East. Bookies have pegged this Devils-Rangers series as the closest of the whole first round. Who wins is a virtual toss-up as seen below:
You have to think this is New Jersey’s series to lose. Accumulating a 52-22-8 mark, they had the better regular season and thus own home-ice advantage. Moreover, they dominated the regular-season meetings too. The Devils were 3-0-1 versus their rivals — though they only outscored them 14-11.
Despite all this, we’re inclined to take New York. We all know how important goaltending is in the postseason and they have a superior advantage here. The Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin is one of the best at his position, while the Devils’ Vitek Vanecek is just ok. Moreover, Vanecek has appeared in all of two playoff games over his career. He’s inexperienced and so is much of New Jersey’s roster. All this makes the Rangers the sneak-betting pick to make.
How To Bet On 2023 NHL Playoffs
Get your NHL playoff bets at one of the betting sites listed underneath. You’ll find the full assortment of wagers there, from series picks to spreads in individual games to props and everything else in between. Any one of the sites will have you covered from now until the Stanley Cup Finals in June.
If you need help picking the best sportsbook for you, we encourage you to examine the table underneath. It’s loaded with information but if we were you, we’d strongly weigh the current promotions available. Hundreds to thousands of dollars in free play are available with these. That means you could use bonus bets to wager for free!