Show me the sports fan who doesn’t like the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Especially in this year’s first round, where the excitement level is at a whole ‘nother level.
In the 2021 playoffs, three of the eight first-round series have already been settled, and the other five could end by Thursday. Two favorites won—Colorado and Boston—while Winnipeg upset Edmonton. So what’s next?
Colorado Sweeps into Next Round
Stanley Cup favorites the Colorado Avalanche had little trouble with the St. Louis Blues in the first round. Colorado, +250 at most sportsbooks to win the Cup, had the best odds of any of the eight teams favored to win their first-round series.
The Avs were -335 to defeat the Blues in the opening round. They outscored St. Louis 20-7 in the four games, and now will await the winner of the Vegas-Minnesota series.
They might be doing it without center Nazem Kadri, who was suspended for eight games after a hit to Justin Faulk in Game 2. It was the sixth suspension of his career, though Kadri is appealing the punishment.
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Vegas Overcomes Slow Start
The Vegas Golden Knights, with the second best odds to win the Cup at PointsBet at +500, was a -240 to defeat the Minnesota Wild in the first round. But the Golden Knights stumbled, losing the first game in overtime 1-0 at home.
Then Vegas seemed to wake up. The team won the next three games, including a 4-0 shutout in Game 4, but forfeited Game 5 4-2. With that blip, advancing to the next round will be tougher. Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith said the team isn’t worried, though.
“I think we just have to be a little smarter, have a little more urgency with the puck the first period,” Smith said. “I really don’t think it’s anything major. We can’t wait until we’re down a couple goals to start upping our intensity.”
Vegas has never closed out a series at home in the team’s history. In five games of this series, the visiting team has won four of the games.
Toronto Canada’s Best Hope
The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the postseason with the fifth best odds to win the Stanley Cup at William Hill. Toronto, which has made the playoffs the last five years but stalled in the first round, were +700 to hoist Lord Stanley’s hardware.
The Maple Leafs are facing the Montreal Canadiens in the first round and are a -275 favorite to win that series, while Montreal is at +210. The series is tighter than many predicted without star John Tavares. The team’s captain is out for at least two weeks, the team said, after a concussion sustained when Montreal’s Corey Perry accidentally struck him in the head in the second game.
Toronto was able to win Games 3 and 4, but if they’re going to close out this series, they’ll have to do it without Tavares.
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Edmonton Stunned by Winnipeg
The Oilers looked anemic in the first two games, losing 4-0 and 1-0. In the third, they took a 4-1 lead, then watched helplessly as the Jets came back to tie it in regulation, then win in overtime, 5-4.
Despite having the top two scorers in the NHL in Connor McDavid and linemate Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers were eliminated Monday, 4-3, in three OTs.
The Jets will face the winner of the Montreal-Toronto series.
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Boston Sends Washington Home
It didn’t turn out to be much of a series, however. Washington won the first game in overtime, 3-2, but Boston stormed back, taking the next four to send the Capitals packing.
Boston closed out the series Tuesday, and will have several days of rest while they wait for the winner of the New York Islanders–Pittsburgh Penguins winner.
2021 Stanley Cup Odds
- Colorado Avalanche +350
- Boston Bruins +525
- Toronto Maple Leafs +550
- Vegas Golden Knights +650
- Tampa Bay Lightning +700
- Carolina Hurricanes +1000
- New York Islanders +1600
- Winnipeg Jets +1600
- Pittsburgh Penguins +3200
- Florida Panthers +3500
- Nashville Predators +4000
- Minnesota Wild +6500
- Montreal Canadiens +8000
Watch the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at NBCSN, NBC, USA, CNBC and the NHL Network, or live-stream on fuboTV.
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