NHL Playoffs HockeyThe first round of the NHL’s 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs starts Wednesday. Check out BetAmerica odds for first-round series winners, along with analysis and free picks.

Wednesday Games

(6) Pittsburgh Penguins -145 vs. (4) New York Islanders +120

Pittsburgh seems to be favored over the Islanders on reputation. For most of the regular season, the Islanders held a lead in the Metropolitan Division. It was only in the month of March that Washington overtook them. New York also ended the regular season going 4-1.

Free Pick: New York Islanders +120

(5) St. Louis Blues -120 vs. (4) Winnipeg Jets +100

The Blues offer favorite’s odds to beat the Jets. In one way it makes sense, as St. Louis was the better team in the second half of the season. But the Jets were very good from the beginning of the season to the final couple weeks, where they imploded. At even-money odds, they are an attractive play to win the series.

Free Pick: Winnipeg Jets +100

(8) Blue Jackets +300 vs. (1) Tampa Bay Lightning -400

The Lightning dominated their foes this season and head to the playoffs having racked up 128 points. They should beat Columbus in four games. Tampa beat Columbus 8-2, 4-0 and 5-1 this season. Although it would be nice to take the odds on the Blue Jackets, we just can’t.

Free Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -400

(7) Dallas Stars +150 vs. (2) Nashville Predators -180

Nashville appears to be the overall better team, but Dallas has one of the best defenses in hockey. The Stars rank second in goals allowed per game at 2.4. They also went 2-3 against Nashville during the regular season, with one of the losses happening in overtime. That should give Dallas confidence.

Free Pick: Dallas Stars +150

(6) Vegas Golden Knights -115 vs (3) San Jose Sharks -115

This series could come down to a seventh game. San Jose is good enough to beat Vegas, but the Sharks lost seven of their final 10 games to end the regular season. Vegas had the much better second half as well.

Free Pick: Vegas Golden Knights -115

Thursday Games

(8) Colorado Avalanche +180 vs. (1) Calgary Flames -220

Colorado was lucky to make the postseason. Although the Avalanche always play hard and could win a game in this series, they’re just not as talented as the top seed in the Western Conference. The Flames should easily handle Colorado.

Free Pick: Calgary Flames -220

(5) Toronto Maple Leafs +125 vs. (3) Boston Bruins -150

The best series of the first round pits two of the top teams in the Atlantic Division against each other. The Maple Leafs were preseason Stanley Cup favorites, but their defense got exposed during the regular season. Toronto allows three goals per game, ranking 20th, which is one of the reasons so many NHL handicappers are chilly on them. The Bruins allow 2.6 goals per game, are solid from top to bottom and went 3-1 against Toronto this season.

Free Pick: Boston Bruins -150

(7) Carolina Hurricanes +125 vs (2) Washington Capitals -155

Washington surged in March to overtake the Islanders and win the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals proved last season that they could win the Stanley Cup as an underdog. They’re more than capable of pulling off back-to-back championships. Carolina won’t win more than a game in this series, as the Caps continue the surge.

Free Pick: Washington Capitals -155