Skip to content
GO TO bet365 Sports
  1. NHL
  2. NHL Playoffs

2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: First round picks, predictions and odds

The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs are here!

The most thrilling postseason in professional sports will play out over the next two months, with one team lifting Lord Stanley come late June.

Can the Rangers snap the Presidents' Trophy curse? Will a Canadian team win the Cup for the first time in 31 years? Which underdog can shock everyone with a deep playoff run?

Before we talk about those big-picture storylines, we have eight mouth-watering first-round series beginning this weekend, and our friends Tyson Cole and Robert Munnich from Daily Faceoff have their picks and predictions set for every matchup.

Jump ahead to each series here, with Robert picking the Eastern Conference series and Tyson taking the Western Conference:

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders picks and predictions

Game 1 Winner: Carolina Hurricanes (-230)

Series Winner: Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 (+350)

The Hurricanes and Islanders kick off the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs! The Islanders enter the postseason as pretty significant underdogs. They are facing a Hurricanes team that has the second-best winning percentage since the trade deadline when they added Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov to an already deep, talented lineup.

The Hurricanes are a dominant team at 5-on-5. They ranked first in the NHL in high danger chances, scoring chances, and shot attempts this season. It's going to be difficult for the Islanders to contain this relentless, fast-paced offence. Especially with Norris-caliber defenseman Noah Dobson dealing with injuries heading into the playoffs.

The one advantage the Islanders have over the Hurricanes on paper is goaltending. Semyon Varlamov willed the Islanders into the playoffs. Since the trade deadline, Varlamov went 8-1-1 and put up a 2.09 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. The only goalie with better numbers over that time is Jake Oettinger in Dallas. 

Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin, whoever plays between the pipes, is going to have to win this series for the Islanders. Carolina will outshoot, out chance, and generally outplay New York.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins picks and predictions

Game 1 Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs (+110)

Series Winner: Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 (+500)

For the third time in seven seasons, the Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.

This will be a close, tight checking series between two very evenly matched teams. This series is going to come down to whether the Bruins can slow down the Maple Leafs offense.

Auston Matthews is ripping the league apart with 15 goals in his last 19 games, and 69 goals over the 2024-25 campaign. John Tavares is over a point per game since the trade deadline. Mitch Marner is back in the Leafs lineup after missing some time due to injury. On top of that the Bruins have to worry about guys like William Nylander, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Max Domi who all have at least 14 points over the last month.

The Bruins have struggled to score since March 8th. They rank 27th in the NHL in goals for, but they've made up for it on the defensive side of the game as they are 3rd in the NHL in goals against in that time.

I like the way the Maple Leafs are playing heading into this series. They are scoring at a significantly higher rate than the Bruins. This will be the year the Leafs finally beat Boston in the playoffs.

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning picks and predictions

Game 1 Winner: Tampa Bay Lighting (+145)

Series Winner: Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 (+650)

The Panthers and Lightning meet in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. This should be an incredible series.

A lot of people are sleeping on the Tampa Bay Lightning heading into the playoffs. They've been hovering around a Wild Card playoff spot all season while the Panthers have been in the mix to win the Atlantic Division.

But the Lightning have the Art Ross Trophy winner in Nikita Kucherov who put up 144 points this season. The Bolts also have another four players who put up 75 points or more. Could almost be six if you include Anthony Duclair who has 15 points in 17 games since arriving in Tampa Bay, which is a 72-point pace. The Panthers only had three.

The Lightning have Andrei Vasilevskiy who consistently steps his game up in the playoffs. Florida has Sergei Bobrovsky whose ceiling is quite high but has been inconsistent this season.

I think this series is going to be incredibly competitive and entertaining. It feels like a coin flip even with a 12 point gap in the standings.

New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals picks and predictions

Game One Winner: New York Rangers (-240)

Series Winner: New York Rangers 4-1 (+250)

This one is going to be short and sweet. Somehow the Washington Capitals made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite the fact they had a -37 goal differential. Because of that, the New York Rangers are overwhelming favorites to win this series.

The Rangers have a deceiving advantage in all aspects of this series. They have the more potent offense, the deeper blueline, and one of the best goalies in the NHL who is playing his best hockey of the season.

This series won't be close. The Rangers will overwhelm the Capitals is every aspect of the game.

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights picks and predictions

Series Winner: Dallas Stars (-130)

Series Total Games: Over 5.5 (-190)

Talk about two juggernauts for a first-round matchup. Winning the Western Conference this season came with the prize of... last season's Stanley Cup champions, the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Stars won their first Western Conference title since the 2019-2020 bubble season when they made it to the Stanley Cup Final. Jaime Benn and Tyler Seguin led that team, and while these two are still around, they have new faces of the franchise.

The Stars have the deepest top-nine in the league, with all but one player scoring 50+ points. The biggest question mark is Jake Oettinger. He's having the worst season of his career statistically, but if he can perform as he did against the Calgary Flames in the 2021-2022 post-season, Vegas might be in trouble.

The Golden Knights frustrated the entire hockey world with their trade deadline acquisitions and the use of LTIR. With Mark Stone miraculously practicing in full after a ruptured spleen, it seems they had the right to show frustration. While they may compete with Dallas for depth in their top nine, the goaltending should be of concern. Since Adin Hill returned from injury, he has a 1-2 record with a combined 3.68 goals against average and a .846 save percentage.

These teams played three times this season; here is how the games went:

Oct. 17th - Dallas 2 @ Vegas 3 OT

Nov. 22nd - Vegas 2 @ Dallas 1 OT

Dec. 9th - Vegas 6 @ Dallas 1

The Golden Knights swept the season series against the Stars, but this was at the beginning of the year when Hill was at the top of his game. The same cannot be said now, so I'm going with the Western Conference champions.

Winnipeg Jets vs. Colorado Avalanche picks and predictions

Series Winner: Winnipeg Jets (+115)

Series Total Games: Over 6.5 (+190)

This will mark the first time in NHL history that the Jets/Avalanche will face off in the Playoffs. These teams are going in opposite directions as the playoffs ramp up.

Winnipeg has won eight straight games, with five of those eight wins coming against Western Conference playoff teams — including a 7-0 domination of their R1 matchup, the Avalanche. The Jets' deadline acquisitions of Sean Monahan and Tyler Toffoli are starting to click on the second line, giving them two lethal lines that should be a dilemma for Colorado to try and line match.

I haven't even mentioned the run-away leader for the Vezina trophy this season, Connor Hellebuyck and his 37-19-4 record with a 2.39 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.

The Colorado Avalanche limped to the finish line with a 2-3-1 record to end the year, allowing 27 goals in those six games. Alexander Georgiev got five of the six starts and allowed 22 goals against himself! He can't have a ton of confidence heading into the playoffs. The Avalanche have star power over the Jets, with three players (Nathan MacKinnon 140, Mikko Rantanen 104, Cale Makar 90) outscoring the Jets leading scorer, Mark Scheifele (72).

These teams played three times this season; here is how those games went.

Dec. 7th - Winnipeg 4 @ Colorado 2

Dec. 16th - Colorado 2 @ Winnipeg 6

Apr. 13th - Winnipeg 7 @ Colorado 0

Now, I don't think the Jets will have as easy a time as they did in the regular season, but I'm going to have to side with the Jets strictly due to the goaltending. I do, however, think the series goes the distance.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators picks and predictions

Series Winner: Vancouver Canucks (-160)

Series Handicap: Vancouver Canucks -1.5 (+130)

This series is the only matchup in which either team failed to make the playoffs last season. The only time these two teams met in the playoffs, Vancouver defeated Nashville 4-2 en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in the 2010-2011 season. 

The Canucks were the league's biggest surprise this season, going from a 22nd-place finish last season to this year's Pacific Division champions. The upgraded play of J.T. Miller's 103-point season, Quinn Hughes' Norris trophy 92-point season and Brock Boeser's 40-goal season helped steer them in the right direction. Vancouver got their saviour back in net after a month-long injury; Thatcher Demko played the final two games to knock off all the cobwebs to catapult them into the playoffs.

The Predators are very much a one-line team in terms of points production. Filip Forsberg (94), Ryan O'Reilly (69), and Gustav Nyquist (75) carried this team's offence this season. They struggled with depth scoring, as they only had one other 40-point scoring forward. Defensively, they've got Roman Josi, who can match Quinn Hughes' ability to change the game. In net, Juuse Saros has played the most games of any goalie this season (64) and faced the most shots against (1,845), all while having the worst statistical season of his career.

These teams played three times this season; here is how those games went.

Oct. 24th - Vancouver 3 @ Nashville 2

Oct. 31st - Nashville 2 @ Vancouver 5

Dec. 19th - Vancouver 5 @ Nashville 2

The Canucks swept the season series, but this was all towards the beginning of the season. The Predators are a different team now. Since the All-Star break, they have the third-highest points percentage (.726%). So I do think they'll make this a series, but the depth down the middle and goaltending advantage Vancouver has leads me to my pick.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings picks and predictions

Series Winner: Edmonton Oilers (-210)

Series Handicap: Edmonton Oilers -1.5 (-115)

Oh, joy! For the third straight season, the hockey world will get to watch the Oilers and Kings in the first round! The Oilers defeated the Kings in both series — seven games in 2021-2022 and six games in 2022-2023.

The Oilers start and end with the league's best player, Connor McDavid. After winning the Maurice 'Rocket' Richard trophy last season, he wanted to add another accolade to his resume by becoming the fourth player ever to reach 100 assists in a single season.

The only potential setback for the Oilers is in goal. Stuart Skinner has improved his play down the stretch, but by no means has he been reliable. This first-round matchup may be the only one where the Oilers have the goaltending advantage.

The Kings meet their playoff kryptonite. They haven't been able to get over the hump that is the Edmonton Oilers, and after a nixed Ullmark trade at this year's trade deadline, they had no choice but to run with Cam Talbot as their starter. Now, his numbers aren't terrible, but he doesn't scream "starting goalie on a contending team" to me.

These teams played four times this season; here is how those games went:

Dec. 30th - Edmonton 3 @ Los Angeles 2

Feb. 10th - Edmonton 0 @ Los Angeles 4

Feb. 26th - Los Angeles 2 @ Edmonton 4

Mar. 28th - Los Angeles 1 @ Edmonton 4

The Oilers continued their playoff success against the Kings, winning the regular season series 3-1. Given that hockey fans have seen what these two teams look like against each other and how they've matched up this year, it has to be the Oilers, right?

Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

Related Articles

bet365 uses cookies

We use cookies to deliver a better and more personalized service. For more information, see our Cookie Policy

New to bet365? Bet $1 & Get $365 in Bonus Bets Join Now

Deposit required. Bonus Bet winnings are added to Bonus Bets balance. Bonus Bet wager excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits and exclusions apply.