Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

First Round Cheat Sheet

First Round Series Odds

A – Atlantic
M – Metropolitan
C – Central
P – Pacific
W – Wild Card

Eastern Conference

1A Tampa Bay vs. 2W Columbus

Lightning: 62-16-4, 128 points
Blue Jackets: 47-31-4, 98 points

Season series: The Lightning rolled through the NHL this season by tying the league record for most wins in a season with 62. Three of those victories came against old friend John Tortorella and the Blue Jackets, as Tampa Bay outscored Columbus, 17-3. The Bolts crushed the Blue Jackets in the first meeting in Tampa, 8-2 in mid-October, followed by a 4-0 shutout in January. In Tampa Bay's lone visit to central Ohio, the Lightning cruised past the Jackets, 5-1 for their sixth straight win in the series dating back to the start of the 2017-18 season.

Previous playoff outcome: Tampa Bay reached the Eastern Conference finals after eliminating New Jersey and Boston in five games each. The Lightning fell in seven games to eventual champion Washington in spite of owning a 3-2 series lead, as Tampa Bay was blanked in Games 6 and 7. Columbus had an opportunity to end Washington's title run early in the playoffs by leading the Capitals, 2-0. However, Washington won the final four games of the series to advance, marking the second straight season the Jackets were bounced in the opening round.

1M Washington vs. 1W Carolina

Capitals: 48-26-8, 104 points
Hurricanes: 46-29-7, 99 points

Season series: The defending champion Capitals pulled off the four-game season sweep of the Hurricanes, while limiting Carolina to four goals in the final three victories. The Caps outlasted the Hurricanes in the first matchup, 6-5 in the shootout in Raleigh as Alex Ovechkin posted a hat trick for Washington. The Caps captured the next two meetings in D.C. by a combined 7-2 score, while netting a pair of third period goals in the final meeting in Carolina, 3-2 in late March.

Previous playoff outcome: Washington hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history last June after rolling through Columbus, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Vegas. The Capitals actually lost the series opener in three of four instances, including twice at home to the Blue Jackets and Penguins. However, the Capitals helped themselves with a strong 10-3 road record, while clinching each series on the highway. The Hurricanes are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, as they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before getting swept by Pittsburgh. This marks the first time ever that the Capitals and Hurricanes are meeting in the postseason.

2A Boston vs. 3A Toronto

Bruins: 49-24-9, 107 points
Maple Leafs: 46-28-8, 100 points

Season series: Boston captured three of four meetings from its Original Six rival, while dominating the Leafs in a pair of wins at TD Garden. The Bruins crushed the Leafs as -145 home favorites in November, 5-1, but Toronto rebounded for a 4-2 home triumph 16 days later as -160 favorites. Boston took the remaining two matchups, including a 3-2 win at Toronto as a short underdog back on January 12.

Previous playoff outcome: Toronto is probably not thrilled it has to hook up with Boston in the postseason as the Maple Leafs haven't had much luck with the Bruins. Back in the opening round in 2013, the Maple Leafs held a commanding 4-1 lead in the third period of Game 7 at TD Garden. The Bruins roared back to score three goals to force overtime and eventually won it, 5-4. Last season, the Maple Leafs rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the first round to force Game 7 in Boston as Toronto led 4-3 headed to the third period. Boston scored the final four goals to knock out Toronto, who hasn't advanced past the opening round since 2004. The Bruins routed the Lightning in the first game of the second round, but Tampa Bay won the final four contests to eliminate Boston in five games.

2M N.Y. Islanders vs. 3M Pittsburgh

Islanders: 48-27-9, 103 points
Penguins: 44-26-12, 100 points

Season series: If evidenced by the four meetings this season, this series should be one of the more intriguing ones in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins and Islanders split the four-game season series as each team won once at home and once on the road. Pittsburgh swept the three-game series in 2017-18, but the Islanders knocked off the Penguins twice in a span of three days with Halloween sandwiched in between. The Penguins bounced back with a pair of wins over New York in a five-day stretch in early December as these teams haven't met in 2019.

Previous playoff outcome: The Penguins had their two-year stretch of Stanley Cup titles come to an end last May as Pittsburgh was bounced in the second round in six games by Washington. Pittsburgh has advanced past the opening round in each of the last three seasons, while eliminating the Islanders in the first round of the 2013 playoffs in six games. The Islanders are back in the postseason for the first time since 2016 as they downed the Panthers in the first round before succumbing to the Lightning in five games.

Western Conference

1P Calgary vs. 2W Colorado

Flames: 50-25-7, 107 points
Avalanche: 38-30-14, 90 points

Season series: The Flames took care of the Avalanche in all three meetings this season, which included a pair of one-goal victories. Calgary edged Colorado at Pepsi Center in overtime, 3-2 back in October as the Flames scored the final three goals after trailing 2-0. The next two matchups easily eclipsed the OVER as the Flames defeated the Avalanche, 6-5 on November 1 at the Saddledome, followed by a 5-3 victory in Alberta in early January. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, the Flames have owned the Avs by winning eight of the last nine meetings, including a 5-0 home mark.

Previous playoff outcome: Calgary is making its second postseason appearance in the last three seasons as the Flames were swept in the opening round by the Ducks in 2017. The Flames are facing the Avalanche in the playoffs for the first time ever, as Colorado is back in the postseason for the second straight year after getting knocked out in the first round by Nashville. Colorado hasn't reached the second round since 2008, while Calgary has escaped past the first round only once since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.

1C Nashville vs. 1W Dallas

Predators: 47-29-6, 100 points
Stars: 43-32-7, 93 points

Season series: The Predators grabbed three of five meetings from the Stars, while the road team won four times. The only time the home team came out victorious was in early February when the Predators slipped past the Stars, 3-2 in overtime at Bridgestone Arena. Although Dallas failed to win at home in two meetings, the Stars topped the Predators twice in Nashville as substantial underdogs, while limiting the Preds to one goal in those victories. The three matchups in Nashville finished UNDER the total, while the two games in Dallas sailed OVER the total.

Previous playoff outcome: For the fifth straight season the Predators are in the playoffs, as Nashville couldn't get out of the second round in 2018 after losing in seven games to Winnipeg. Nashville will hook up with Dallas in the playoffs for the first time ever, marking the fifth division opponent they have faced in the postseason since 2017. The Stars are in the postseason for the third time since 2009, as Dallas last made the playoffs in 2016 and reached Game 7 of the second round before getting blown out by St. Louis.

2C Winnipeg vs. 3C St. Louis

Jets: 47-30-5, 99 points
Blues: 45-28-9, 99 points

Season series: It's been a tale of two seasons for St. Louis, who sat in last place in January, but finished within one point of the Central division title. Why that's relevant for this discussion is the Jets took care of the Blues three times in the first two months of the season, while outscoring St. Louis, 18-9. In an 8-4 Winnipeg blowout in November, Jets' star Patrik Laine scored five goals, but the Blues blanked the Jets, 1-0 in the final matchup on December 7.

Previous playoff outcome: The new Jets were one round away from their first ever Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2018, but upstart Vegas eliminated Winnipeg in five games. Winnipeg knocked off Minnesota and Nashville in the first two rounds as it squares off with St. Louis for the first time in the playoffs since the franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011. The Blues are in the postseason for the seventh time in eight seasons, while reaching the second round in their last playoff appearance in 2017.

2P San Jose vs. 3P Vegas

Sharks: 46-27-9, 101 points
Golden Knights: 43-32-7, 93 points

Season series: The Sharks and Golden Knights split four matchups this season, as Vegas scored six and seven goals in the two wins. Both Vegas victories came by at least three goals, while each San Jose win came by one goal each. The most recent meeting occurred on March 30 at SAP Center as the Sharks edged the Golden Knights, 4-3 in overtime. Each of these division rivals struggled down the stretch as the Sharks dropped nine of their final 12 games, while Vegas lost seven of its last eight contests.

Previous playoff outcome: Vegas is back in the postseason for the second straight year after its improbable run to the Stanley Cup after eliminating Los Angeles, San Jose, and Winnipeg before losing to Washington in five games. The Golden Knights took care of the Sharks in six games of the second round, including three wins at San Jose. The Sharks are in the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 seasons since the lockout, as San Jose has advanced past the first round eight times in this stretch.

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