Best bets for the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs

Don't expect the Hurricanes to have much trouble disposing of the Predators. Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire

Playoff hockey is back! The first-round matchups for the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs are set, which means betting options galore.

Here are some of the bets we like throughout the postseason. Our panel includes ESPN betting analyst Doug Kezirian and ESPN NHL writers Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski.

Check out the entire NHL playoff schedule here.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill unless otherwise noted.

Boston Bruins (-145) over Washington Capitals in series

Kezirian: The Bruins begin the playoffs facing perhaps the one team that can match their physicality. However, the Caps are dealing with the injury bug, and with Game 1 on Saturday, the status of star forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov is still unknown. The Bruins' top "perfection" line already poses a serious matchup challenge, and if Washington's top guys miss multiple games, Boston has a chance to cruise. Washington's stingy defense might limit the Bruins, but now with a second line featuring midseason acquisition Taylor Hall, the Bruins ultimately should have too much firepower.