2023 NHL Playoffs Picks: How First Round is Shaping up

2023 NHL Playoffs Picks: How First Round is Shaping up
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At gambling.com, we have been perplexed and surprised by what happened in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. Amazingly, no teams have been eliminated yet. That might change tonight. With Toronto and Vegas holding a 3-1 series lead, one would think these series might be over. That would be wrong so far. 

Florida stayed alive by winning in Boston, while the New York Islanders did the same thing on Tuesday night in Carolina. Expect the unexpected. 

Here are more quick takeaways on what expects to be another crazy night in the NHL. 

Schedule Breakdown

Here is tonight’s breakdown of games. 

  • Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs - 7 p.m. ET
  • New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils - 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Winnipeg Jets at Vegas Golden Knights – 10 p.m. ET

The good news is that the schedule is easier to follow. Fewer games mean the first round is slowly drawing to a close. 

Also, look at more live betting. One of the big takeaways from our trip to BetMGM Sportsbook this week was the increased action on single-game parlays and live betting off early results.     

Tampa Bay Is Down Three Games To One

Victor Hedman has not been 100%, and no Ryan McDonagh (now with Nashville) makes a huge difference. However, little has gone right for the Lightning aside from Game 1 of this series. Now, they have to win three straight games. 

Few expected Toronto to come back from a 4-1 deficit in Game 4. Yet, the Maple Leafs pulled off the feat. The Lightning were down 3-2 last year versus the Maple Leafs. This feels different. 

Again, that fourth win is the hardest. Toronto has not advanced to the second round of the NHL Playoffs since 2004. Pat Quinn advanced the Maple Leafs through one round in five of the six seasons he guided Toronto to the playoffs. It has been a long time. 

ESPN2 And TBS Take The Puck Tonight

Thursday gives us ESPN2 for the 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. games. Then, the 7 p.m. contest is on TBS. Keep in mind overtime will cause games to go on overflow channels. Check locally to see if your team is playing first. Now, in the NYC Metro Area, Rangers coverage will be on MSG while the Devils are on MSGSN. 

Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs

Can the Tampa Bay Lighting win three straight games after Toronto has? Allowing four unanswered goals at home to Toronto feels like the final straw in Tampa Bay. There is much apprehension in Toronto. Understandably, the Maple Leafs are in a position they never expected. 

How do Ilya Samsonov and Andrei Vasilevskiy rebound? That’s a big question. Could the Over connect again? That becomes an increasing possibility, given the defenses. Sheldon Keefe knows Toronto should tighten up defensively, but maybe speeding up this game lets the Maple Leafs play to their strengths.

New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils

New Jersey has mostly played how the New York Rangers want it to play this series. Somehow, the series is tied at two games apiece. Thanks to Akira Schmid for coming in and holding the Rangers to two goals at Madison Square Garden.

If New Jersey keeps playing this way, it is playing with fire. Skating more East-West and less North-South is ideal. The Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin has also held New York in the series leading in goals saved above average in high-danger chances. 

Winnipeg Jets at Vegas Golden Knights

Can Vegas close out this series at home, or will Connor Hellebuyck steal this game on Thursday night? Vegas wants to close this out as soon as possible. With no Josh Morrissey in the lineup, the Jets do not look the same, and Mark Schiefele seems content to play his way and not the coaches’ way again.

Does Vegas calm the nerves enough to get the job done on Thursday night? 

Some Wagers To Consider Placing Thursday Night

  • Jack Hughes anytime goal is +130. Timo Meier anytime goal is at +165. Watch to see what a Mika Zibanejad power-play goal comes in at. Man advantage Over 0.5 points is +115.
  • The Over is worth a look in Toronto once again.
  • Connor Hellebuyck save prop take the Over. The Under for Akira Schmid.
  • Take the Steven Stamkos anytime goal bet.
  • Look at more individual player props again. Watch for any late-breaking injury news.
  • Vegas in regulation comes in at -115, which is a lot better than that -190 moneyline.

Good luck, and once again, thanks for reading! We will carry some more plays on social media as conditions warrant.

Thanks to BetMGM for the help.

NHL Odds
May 31st 9:00pmPuck LineOver/UnderMoneyline
Dallas Stars DAL
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Vegas Golden Knights LAS
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June 3rd 8:00pmPuck LineOver/UnderMoneyline
Florida Panthers FLA
1.5 -230 DraftKings U 5.5 -105 BetMGM +115 BetMGM
Vegas Golden Knights LAS
-1.5 +200 Bet365 O 5.5 -114 FanDuel -130 FanDuel
June 10th 8:00pmPuck LineOver/UnderMoneyline
Vegas Golden Knights LAS
-- -- --
Florida Panthers FLA
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