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Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions For Round One From CHN



Landeskog trade deadline avalanche Stanley cup

The most wonderful time of the year has arrived, as the Stanley Cup playoffs begin today. The eight matchups are set, and the quest for Lord Stanley is about to get underway.

Just like last year, this season feels like a total toss-up, as there are about eight teams I would classify as true Stanley Cup contenders.

The only series we won’t give predictions for here is the one most of you care about. Nope, I’ll save my Avalanche/Jets predictions once all the series previews are out for the series. Like most people, I think it will be close.

Let’s get to the predictions.

New York Islanders vs. Carolina Hurricanes

There are a few teams that don’t feel like they belong in the playoffs, and the Islanders are one of them. They snuck into the playoffs largely on the back of loser points, as they lost in overtime an NHL leading 16 times. Their 29 regulation wins were less than a lot of non-playoff teams, and they’re a bottom 10 possession team.

And yet, nothing about the Hurricanes makes me feel super comfortable. Maybe that’s because I’ve picked them to win the Stanley Cup a few times over the last 4-5 years and been let down, but I don’t know if I can trust that team fully. This one, I think they’ve got in the bag. Jake Guentzel has been an incredible pickup for them, giving them another scorer, which they really needed. I don’t trust their goaltending, but Freddie Andersen has been good since returning. They should have this in the bag.

Prediction: Hurricanes in 5

New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals

The Islanders aren’t the biggest frauds in the playoffs because the Capitals somehow snuck in with a goal differential of -37. No, that’s not a typo. Alexandar Ovechkin proved after the All-Star break that he can still score, and Charlie Lindgren has been their MVP, but beyond that, there isn’t much to love about this team.

Igor Shesterkin has turned back into a wall for the Rangers, and they’re a deep, heavy team. This series should not be close.

Prediction: Rangers in 5

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

Finally a good matchup. The Lightning caught fire towards the end of the season, separating themselves from the rest of the sub-par Wild Card teams. I actually feel bad for the Panthers, because the way the playoffs are designed, they got a little screwed here. They should have been rewarded with the second worst team (Islanders), but instead, they’re going to have to face a more difficult Lightning squad.

Kucherov has been unreal this season, and Vasilevsky figured things out a bit down the stretch. The Lightning are aging, and not nearly as deep as they once were, but you can never count them out in the playoffs.

Still, this Panthers team feels like a wagon. They are a nasty, nasty team to play against, and they can do a bit of everything. They stumbled a bit down the stretch, but they just feel like a team built to win it all. The Lightning will give them troubles, but I don’t think they have enough to take them down.

Prediction: Panthers in 6

Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

The potential injury to William Nylander seems like a big deal. You can’t just lose a star player and be okay, so the Maple Leafs have to hope that he’s healthy. If no one trusts the Maple Leafs, I completely understand. They’ve done nothing to show that they’re true Stanley Cup contenders, but they did show they can get out of round one last year. That’s something, right?

But can the Bruins be trusted either? They fell flat on their faces last year after having a dominant regular season, and they don’t have a guy like Patrice Bergeron down the middle this year. I don’t feel comfortable calling them a Stanley Cup contender either. David Pastrnak is a superstar, and Jim Montgomery is a tremendous coach. They could easily pull this off, but I’m going to put my faith in the talent of the Maple Leafs, at least for one round. This could make me look very stupid, and I accept that.

Prediction: Maple Leafs in 7

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators

Another matchup of two teams that I don’t really trust. This actually might be the best goaltender matchup in round one, with Juuse Saros going up against a healthy Thatcher Demko. It was very noticeable how different the Canucks are when Demko isn’t in net, but he did manage to get a few games in before the playoffs. The Canucks have the star power on paper, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt comfortable calling them a Stanley Cup contender this year. Elias Lindholm has been a disappointing pickup, and hasn’t really done anything to make them a whole lot better.

As for the Predators, I really don’t know what to make of them. Their roster isn’t super impressive, but their top line is fantastic and Roman Josi has had a fantastic season of his own. If there’s an opportunity for an upset in round one, it might be here. Andrew Brunette has proven to be a heck of a coach, so I’m going to roll with the underdog here.

Prediction: Predators in 7

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings

They meet again. I was hoping to see a different matchup because I’m a little burnt from seeing these two teams play each other, but that’s what we’ve got.

This one is pretty simple for me. The Kings will suffocate you to death, but am I supposed to believe in Cam Talbot? Absolutely not. I like a lot of the makeup of that team, but I don’t think things will be any different this year. Connor McDavid is on one right now, Mattias Ekholm looks great with a full year under his belt in Edmonton, and Skinner has been just good enough for me to believe they’ll be fine in round one. Sorry Kings fans. I don’t think the third time is the charm.

Prediction: Oilers in 6

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights

This is a monster matchup. I expect these two teams to beat the living crap out of each other. If you’re an Avalanche fan, that’s great news. If you’re an NHL fan in general, it should make for a fantastic series.

Jared Bednar called the Stars a wagon a few weeks ago, and he’s not wrong. That’s a deep, deep team up front, and they can defend when they want to. Miro Heiskanen is one of my favorite defensemen to watch in the world. The question is whether or not Jake Oettinger can find another gear. He’s a very good goalie who hasn’t had a good year. Still, this is a really good team that can easily win the Stanley Cup. A solid mix of veterans with some youth sprinkled in.

Can you count out the Golden Knights? Definitely not. They’ve won it all, and they can do it again. And yes, we all know Mark Stone is coming back for game one. Let’s not kid ourselves. I’m not sure this is the team they wanted to play, though. I can’t wait to watch these two teams go head-to-head for a few weeks, and I fully expect it to go the distance. In the end, I’m going with the Stars.

Prediction: Stars in 7

I want to hear from everyone else. What are your predictions?

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