NHL Playoffs picks, odds: Expert predictions for Oilers-Kings, Maple Leafs-Bruins and Knights-Stars

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NHL Playoffs picks, odds: Expert predictions for Oilers-Kings, Maple Leafs-Bruins and Knights-Stars

It all starts on Monday night for Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers after they racked up another 100+ points regular season. The Oilers superstar will cross 1,000 career points early in the 2024-25 regular season, but he still hasn’t advanced to a Stanley Cup Final. This is his ninth season in the league, and he’s one of the game’s elite stars, but playoff success still hasn’t happened unless you count making one Western Conference Final as playoff success.

McDavid had an incredible regular season, but careers are measured in Stanley Cups for the greats. Sidney Crosby won his first cup in his fourth season.

In a weird scheduling quirk, the Eastern conference series will start Game 2 before the Kings-Oilers and Knights-Stars series get started. The Hurricanes beat the Islanders in Game 1 on Saturday night and the Bruins dominated the Maple Leafs 5-1.

The schedule is set for Monday night with four games set to be played with staggered start times.

Odds are from BetMGM and update live. Buy tickets to see your favorite team on StubHub.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins  — Game 2

How to watch: 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, SN, CBC

Bruins lead series 1-0

Series odds: Bruins -250, Maple Leafs +200


Key takeaways 

  • Will the Boston Bruins go with Jeremy Swayman on Linus Ullmark in Game 2? Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said he would go with a goalie rotation in these playoffs after last year’s early exit to the Florida Panthers. But after Game 1, he said it’d be “hard to go away from Sway.”
  • The Boston Bruins dominated the Maple Leafs in Game 1, but the Leafs were without star William Nylander. He sat out Game 1 with an undisclosed injury after playing in all 82 regular-season games and recording 98 points.
  • The Maple Leafs have their own lineup questions to answer. Will Toronto reunite Mitch Marner with Auston Matthews? Matthews’ line struggled in the Game 1 loss, and playoff production has been an issue for the Leafs’ superstar. Matthews averages 1.16 points per game in the regular season in his career, but he has only scored 44 points in 51 career playoff games.
  • Was the Game 1 loss a worst-fears-realized scenario for Toronto? Probably, writes The Athletic’s Chris Johnston. That being said, a win in Game 2 would flip momentum back to Toronto and escaping Boston with a 1-1 split would seem like a win to the Leafs and their fans.

Expert picks

How to watch: 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, SN360

Hurricanes lead series 1-0

Series odds: Hurricanes -800, Islanders +550

Key takeaways 

  • The Hurricanes scored two third-period goals to take victory in Game 1 on Saturday night, with Stefan Noesen scoring the game-winning goal and Martin Necas adding an empty-net goal to solidify the win. The Islanders outshot Carolina 34-26.
  • New York shouldn’t be too frustrated by its Game 1 performance. Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen stole Game 1 for the Hurricanes, with the Islanders controlling play for a large part of the game. Carolina did lead shot attempts 74-59, but the Islanders blocked shots and frustrated the Hurricanes offense.
  • Mathew Barzel led the Islanders with 80 points in the regular season. Scoring against the Hurricanes can be a difficult task given their tough system, but Barzel has the talent to break through.

Expert picks

How to watch: 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, SN360

Series odds: Stars -145, Golden Knights +120

Key takeaways 

  • Vegas won all three regular-season matchups this season, but two of the games went to overtime. The teams haven’t played since early December, so don’t put a lot of stock into those matchups.
  • Our playoff series preview gives the Stars a 62 percent chance of winning the series. The two teams are mostly even on offense, but the Stars have a huge edge on the defensive side of the ice.
  • Dallas had only one goal-scorer with more than 30 goals this year (Wyatt Johnson) but had eight players with at least 20 goals.
  • It appears Golden Knights captain Mark Stone will return to the lineup for Monday’s Game 1 after missing the final 26 games of the regular season. Plenty of NHL fans are questioning the timing of his return to the lineup when the salary cap doesn’t apply during the playoffs.

Expert picks

Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers — Game 1

How to watch: 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2, SN, CBC

Series odds: Oilers -210, Kings +170

Key takeaways 

  • This is a rematch of last year’s first-round matchup that saw the Oilers eliminate the Kings in six games. It is the third straight matchup between these two teams in the first round.
  • Edmonton won three of the four regular-season games between the two Pacific division teams, including the last two in February and March, in which the Oilers outscored the Kings 8-3.
  • Can the Oilers win ugly if they need to? The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman highlighted that he thinks this version of the Oilers is more prepared to do so in his four storylines to watch in the playoffs.
  • Adrian Kempe, Kevin Fiala and Anze Kopitar all had at least 70 points in the regular season for Los Angeles. Trevor Moore led the Kings with 31 goals.
  • Our series preview matchup gives the Oilers a 71 percent chance of beating the Kings.

Expert picks

(Photo of Connor McDavid: Claus Andersen / Getty Images)