NOTE: This post has been updated with additional predictions from Rob C. and Conall.
It’s one more (and hopefully last) stress free playoff season. Which means it’s one more stress free NHL playoffs predictions from the BSB folks.
Toronto vs Montreal
Rob L: TOR > MTL in 5. The Leafs are playing at about the same level all year while Montreal is a shell of itself after the coaching change. TOR may not pull it off in 5 like I’ve predicted but if Montreal takes the series I’ll be shocked if they do it while outplaying the Leafs.
Brandon: TOR over MTL in 6 – Toronto is better in literally every aspect of hockey including goaltending (yes, I mean this.) That being said it is Toronto we’re talking about? do they will make it as difficult for themselves as possible.
Russ: Toronto in 5. It seems the trendy thing to do is hate on the Leafs. “They get too much attention,” “They’re overrated,” “They can’t get it done,” blah blah blah. Toronto will work Montreal in this playoff series. The big four will come ready to play and leading the way will be Rocket Richard winner Auston Matthews. The Canadiens have been a great story this year and have surprised a lot of people but the story ends in round one where the Leafs will advance.
Dave: Leafs in 6: Toronto is very underrated because the North Division was so weak. This is a very good and balanced team.
Rob C: Leafs in 5. This will be a fun series to watch because of the rivalry and hype. It’s a shame there won’t be fans in either building as well. In the end, there’s too much talent on a Leafs team that finally seems ready to get over the hump.
Edmonton vs Winnipeg
Rob L: EDM > WPG in 6. These two are somewhat evenly matched but because of just that I’ll lean towards the team who has two of the best players in the world.
Brandon: EDM>WPG in 6 – I’m giving Winnipeg two games because Edmonton’s goalies are horrendous, but I can’t see Connor McDavid losing in the first round. Shrug.
Russ: Edmonton in 6. The Jets won’t go quietly and will possibly steal a game or two but Connor McDavid has had one of the most legendary years in NHL history. McDavid had over 100 points in less than 56 games and made every single opponent he faced look silly this year. If this was a full season he would’ve been on pace for 150 points. The Jets defense needs to find a way to slow him, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse down or this is gonna be a fast one. The Jets have talent but no one on the planet is McDavid. Oilers will move on.
Dave: Edmonton in 7: There is only so much a team can to to contain Connor McDavid. This is a toss up for me, since Edmonton’s goalies are awful, which will probably stretch this out longer than it should go.
Rob C: Oilers in 6. When in doubt, bet on the best player in the world, who just put together one of the greatest single season campaigns ever, Gretzky included.
Pittsburgh vs. Islanders
Rob L: PIT > NYI in 7. I went seven games because the Islanders have taken it to the Pens during the season, but that said PIT has been getting equal goaltending to NYI as of late.
Brandon: Islanders over Penguins in 7 – this is the hardest one because the two teams play such different styles. I think Pittsburgh has the better roster but the Islanders have deeper forward depth. Last year the Islanders showed that they could flip a switch come playoff time. I love everything Barry Trotz does. As much as I wish it weren’t the case, defense often trumps offense in the playoffs. That gives the Islanders the nod for me.
Russ: Pittsburgh in 7. The Penguins and Islanders are set for their first round matchup and many people are picking Barry Trotz’ pesky Isles to stop the Penguins. I don’t agree. The Penguins have shocked everyone this year with many before the season thinking that they werent a playoff team. Now? first in the east with an MVP candidate in Sidney Crosby. I think the Penguins big guns turn up this series and shock the Islanders in seven games to advance to the second round. Crosby has been too good.
Dave: Isles in 6. I hate saying this, but the Isles are better coached and have better depth. I think this is the end of the Pittsburgh “dynasty.”
Rob C: Islanders in 7. These games will be an all out battle, and the series will be a war of attrition. Depth and defense will win out, and the Islanders have both in spades. Expect a bunch of 2-1 scores.
Boston vs. Washington
Rob L: BOS > WSH in 6. Two teams that are pumping on all cylinders, should be a good series. Bias is showing with 6 games for the Bruins as I just really want to see the Caps lose.
Brandon: BOS over WSH in 5. Washington is in a state of disarray heading into the playoffs with tons of injuries or controversies. The Bruins are playing their best hockey of the season. Feels like a recipe for a quick series win for Boston.
Russ: Bruins in 6. The Capitals have been decent all year but since the trade deadline the Bruins have been on fire with their addition of Taylor Hall and their addition of Mike Reilly. GM Don Sweeney addressed all the scoring depth and defensive depth and the whole team is clicking. David Krejci has turned back the clock playing with a winger like Hall and he might very well stay in Boston. I think they will be too much for the Caps who have been hit by the injury bug recently.
Dave: Bruins in 5. The Caps aren’t overly good, and the Bruins have been fantastic since adding Hall and Reilly.
Rob C: Capitals in 7. I just feel like going off the board here. I predicted that the Caps would be a surprise team to miss the playoffs. Clearly, I was wrong about that. They’re still a force and to use a cliche, a team that “knows how to win” in the playoffs.
Colorado vs St. Louis
Rob L: COL > STL in 6. The Blues made the playoffs on the back of a massive shot & save % surge. COL should easily outplay them even though they’ve come down from their mid-season complete dominance form.
Brandon: COL over STL in 5 – Colorado is the best team in hockey. St. Louis made the playoffs because they lucked out on divisional alignment. Need I say more?
Russ: Avalanche in 5. The Avalanche are led by arguably the second best player in the world in Nathan MacKinnon and have been one of the NHL’s best teams over the past few seasons. The Blues won the cup in 2019 and have the experience to get to the final. This will be a fun first round matchup but at the end of the day, the skill and depth of the Avalanche will overcome the challenges they face against the Blues. Good luck to the Blues defense trying to stop MacKinnon, Rantanen, Landeskog and Cale Makar when theyre all playing at the top of their games. The Avalanche are my pick to win it all this year and they’ll make quick work of the Blues.
Dave: Colorado in 4. The Avs are by far the best team in the league and have the metrics to back it up. This is my Cup pick.
Rob C: Avs in 5. According to some models, this is the most statistically lopsided match-up since the advent of analytics in hockey (or, at least as long as Moneypuck has been predicting playoff outcomes). This should be a walk in the park for the Avs, especially if they win game 1.
Vegas vs. Minnesota
Rob L: VGK > MIN in 5. Minnesota had a solid first half of the season but has since cooled to an average team, while Vegas rounded into good form. If Minnesota doesn’t get goaltending this could be a sweep.
Brandon: MIN over VGK in 6- My big surprise pick. Every year we get a matchup super hyped up in the second round or later and then it doesn’t come to fruition. My prediction is Joel Eriksson Ek shuts down the Golden Knights stars and Vegas gets frustrated because Minnesota owned them all season. Am i confident in this? No. Am i picking it anyway? Yes.
Russ: Vegas in 7. I know I know, the trendy pick is Minnesota for this series and I get it. Kaprizov put on a show this year and the Wild have seriously turned in on. Imagine they get a real number one center soon? They will be a problem. But Vegas is too good and too deep and they know how to win in the playoffs. Even with their questionable center depth they have amazing chemistry and Mark Stone is probably the best defensive forward in the NHL. Vegas is a machine and i expect this to be a close series with them coming out on top.
Dave: Vegas in 6. Minnesota has been mediocre lately, and it’s all about momentum heading into the playoffs. Vegas is always a good team in the playoffs.
Rob C: Wild in 7. I arrived at that conclusion by taking a coin out of my pocket and flipping it. I also probably won’t watch a second of this series, as I don’t find either team particularly compelling now that the newness of the Knights has worn off.
Carolina vs. Nashville:
Rob L: CAR > NSH in 6. The Preds are an average team that had the best season-long goaltending in the league. Akin to the Avs and Knights, the Hurricanes should control play in this one but it’s a matter of beating Rinne/Saros.
Russ: Carolina in 4. Ladies and Gentlemen we have out first sweep of the playoffs! The Hurricanes have been an absolute force this year and the Predators will not be able to match their tenacity and drive that Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour has instilled in them. Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen lead their forward corps with d corps led by Dougie Hamilton that teams only dream of having one day. This team could very well make the Stanley Cup final with a big chance to win. Nashville is gonna get punched in the mouth and knocked down before they knew what hit them.
Dave: Carolina in 5. Carolina is my pick to come out of the East. They are well balanced and very good. Nashville isn’t good either.
Rob C: Carolina in 4. A clean sweep for the Canes, who are built for the playoffs and look like a good bet to come out of the East.
Tampa vs. Florida
Rob L: FLA > TBL in 7 The Panthers are a top-5 hot team and have been playing great hockey for a month. The difficult part of projecting Tampa is that they’ve been their usual solid good all year and now that they’ll get Stamkos & Kucherov back will they be even better or will it take a few games for them to gel… I’d love to see the upset here though.
Brandon: FLA>TBL in 6- I love Florida’s forward depth and i feel like it wouldn’t be surprising after all the complaining about Tampa’s tactics if they lose in the first round. seven with everyone returning I wouldn’t exactly call them healthy. I’m going with my hunch and saying Florida steals it.
Russ: Tampa Bay in 6. The Panthers had an absolutely remarkable year with their lineup really coming together and showing that they aren’t just the little brother franchise in Florida anymore. But… all good things must come to an end. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the defending SC Champs and they just added Nikita Kucherov back in time for the playoffs (shocking I know…). The Lightning will be close to icing a 100 million dollar team with multiple gamebreakers in Kucherov, Stamkos, Point and Hedman. Florida will put up a fight and maybe get to a game seven but Tampa is the odds on favorite in this series for a reason.
Dave: Tampa in 6. Cap circumvention for the win, quite literally.
Rob C: Panthers in 6. This is my big upset pick, with the defending champs exiting early. This is going to be the best of all the opening round series. I will be expecting and rooting for chaos.
Bonus late addition by Conall:
Pens>Isles in 7
Bruins>Caps in 6
Bolts>Cats in 7
Canes>Preds in 5
Oilers>Jets in 6
Leafs>Habs in 6
Knights>Wild in 7
Avs>Blues in 5
It’s going to be interesting with different fan capacities allowed how that impacts each game/series. I think the battle of Florida is going to be a blast. Tampa is the better team but man I want to pick Florida. That’s going to be a blood bath of a series. I think the Pens will take care of the Isles, but in a series like 2009 Caps/Rangers where the 4 Pens wins will be blowouts and the 3 Isles wins will be 2-1 affairs. The Wild have played Vegas tough all year but have been an average hockey team the last month. Not sure they have the fire power to pull off the upset. Excited to have playoff hockey back in some capacity.