The postseason in any sport is always great, but there is something particularly special about the Stanley Cup. Perhaps it’s the history of the competition, or maybe it’s those awesome playoff beards, but whatever it is, the NHL playoffs are must-see TV. The 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs get started on Wednesday night, with the Tampa Bay Lightning in as the clear NHL betting favorites. Let’s take a close look at the match-ups and how each conference might play out.
2019 NHL Playoffs First Round Matchups & Conference Predictions
First Round Matchups
- Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets
- Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
- Washington Capitals vs Carolina Hurricanes
- NY Islanders vs Pittsburgh Penguins
The Lightning will open up at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets and should not really have any trouble getting through the opening round. Their issues are going to come later, as we all know that winning the President’s Trophy does not very often equate to a Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay in 5.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will open on the road against the New York Islanders in a series that looks to be a tough one to handicap. If the Penguins can go in and get a split from the opening two games, we are in for a series. I am going with the slight upset here and taking the Pittsburgh in 6 games.
One of the most intriguing match-ups of the opening round is an Original 6 series between Toronto and Boston. It’s a little disappointing that this series comes so early, but this is what we are getting. The Leafs are young and perhaps not yet quite ready, which is why I have the Bruins winning this series in 6 games.
The Carolina Hurricanes did well just to sneak into the playoffs, but their reward is an opening round match-up against the defending champions. I think this one might well be over even before it really begins, as I am taking the Capitals to win it in 5.
We’ll get into the later rounds as the playoffs progress, but I am still on the Boston Bruins to win the East.
First Round Matchups
- Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars
- Winnipeg Jets vs St. Louis Blues
- Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche
- San Jose Sharks vs Vegas Golden Knights
The St. Louis Blues were one of the surprise teams of the season and they will look to continue their great season by starting out on the road in Winnipeg. The Jets are a team that could well be a dark horse in the West, so I am taking them to win this series in 6 games.
The Dallas Stars will get their postseason rolling by heading out on the road to face the Nashville Predators, a team that has some playoff experience under their belts. I think Dallas will have a tough time breaking down the Predators D, so I am taking Nashville to win in 5 games.
The toughest match-up of the opening round in either conference sees the Vegas Golden Knights go up against their Pacific Division rivals, the San Jose Sharks. The Knights are going to have a tough time repeating the magic of last season, but they are up against a Sharks team that slumped coming down the stretch. Let’s take Vegas to win in 7 games.
The Calgary Flames are in as the #1 seed and look like a young team on the brink of great things. They will open up against the Colorado Avalanche and should not have any real problem moving on. Let’s go with the Flames in 5.
I am taking the Calgary Flames to come out of the Western Conference.