The Stanley Cup Playoffs got underway Saturday with a matchup between the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds out of the East Division. The No. 2 Washington Capitals pulled out a 3-2 overtime victory over the No. 3 Boston Bruins, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
That was the only contest that took place on the first day of the postseason. Now, things will really start to pick up Sunday, when there are three Game 1 matchups on tap. And by the end of the week, all 16 teams in the playoff field will have started what each hopes will be a run to the Stanley Cup.
But only one of those teams will be successful and get to hoist the Cup to end the 2020-21 season. And it will take 16 wins against strong competition in order for that to happen.
Now that the postseason has begun, here's a look at the latest Stanley Cup odds, along with some betting advice for the playoffs.
Stanley Cup Odds
Colorado Avalanche: +375 (bet $100 to win $375)
Toronto Maple Leafs: +600
Vegas Golden Knights: +600
Carolina Hurricanes: +750
Tampa Bay Lightning: +800
Pittsburgh Penguins: +1200
Boston Bruins: +1300
Washington Capitals: +1400
Florida Panthers: +1700
Edmonton Oilers: +2000
New York Islanders: +2100
Minnesota Wild: +2500
Montreal Canadiens: +3500
St. Louis Blues: +3500
Winnipeg Jets: +3700
Nashville Predators: +4000
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
A team from Canada hasn't won the Stanley Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens. But it's time for that drought to end this season.
Because of the realigned divisions for the 2020-21 season (played amid the coronavirus pandemic), all seven teams from Canada were put into the North Division. And because the first two rounds of the playoffs will feature only series between teams from the same division, it's guaranteed that one North team will be among the final four in the postseason.
At that point, the last North team remaining could have a strong chance to win the Stanley Cup. Especially if that ends up being the Maple Leafs.
Toronto has the second-best odds to win the Cup, making it a smart team to bet on at this point. The Maple Leafs lost their final two regular-season games (after winning seven of their previous eight), but they'll have some time to rest and gear back up for the start of the playoffs.
In the first round, Toronto should have no trouble taking down Montreal. It will likely face Edmonton in the second round, and that could be a tough series. But the Maple Leafs have a well-rounded team that's hungry for playoff success.
The last time Toronto won a playoff series was in the first round in 2004. Since then, it has lost six consecutive postseason series, which includes one in each of the past four years.
Another wise bet to make is to pick Auston Matthews to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is given to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 23-year-old forward is having a remarkable season, and he should lead the Maple Leafs to postseason success.
Matthews (+1100 to win Conn Smythe) has the second-best odds of winning the award behind only Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon (+800). And although Toronto has never won a playoff series since Matthews entered the league in 2016-17, he'll be a reason for its better results this postseason.
In 52 games this season, Matthews has an NHL-high 41 goals and 25 assists. Expect more big numbers from him in the playoffs, as he'll continue to score at a high rate, especially in the first two rounds against familiar North Division opponents.
There are plenty of strong contenders for the Stanley Cup, including the Avalanche, the Golden Knights and the Lightning, who are the reigning champions, as well as several others. And any of them are capable of making a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
But whichever team the Maple Leafs face will come up short. It's finally time for the Cup to return to Canada.
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