Welcome back to the most wonderful time of the year: the sun is out later, temperatures are slowly rising, and 16 teams are battling it out to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. Today, we look at BSB’s (well some of us) NHL playoff predictions for who will come out of the first round. Enjoy our ramblings, different points of view, and Conall being a man of few words.
Share your picks in the comments, and stay tuned tomorrow for our Rangers predictions!
Eastern Conference: Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals
Russ: FLA in 5
The Panthers, the President’s Trophy winners have been one of the most dominant teams in the NHL this year. Aleksandar Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have hit their primes and boy is it fun to watch. Oh yeah and they added Claude Giroux at the deadline. The Capitals are an older team and with an injured Ovechkin, the Panthers look ready to feast. Panthers in 5 if Ovi is hurt and Panthers in 6 if he comes back.
Rob L.: FLA in 6
Similar to COL/NSH, I think FLA will routinely dominate the 5v5/EV play but I could see WSH keeping this close in a few and stealing at least one, if not two. Special teams is likely the only time WSH will look consistently alive.
Becky: FLA in 6
The Caps had a hot last third of the season before they took their foot off the gas and their captain faced an injury for the last few games. That said, Florida is an offensive juggernaut. I give the Caps 2 games out of respect for their playoff experience and because Ovechkin is due back, but it’s unlikely the Caps upset here.
Rob C.: FLA in 5
The Capitals are the weakest team in the Eastern Conference playoff field. I think they’ll give the Panthers some tough games, but ultimately Florida’s firepower wins out.
Dave: FLA in 4
Sorry, but the Caps goaltending won’t keep up with the Florida firepower. There’s nothing Washington can do here.
Conall: FLA in 5
Eastern Conference: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Russ: TOR in 6
The perennial playoff busts vs. the two time defending champions. Toronto has all the pressure in the hockey universe on them and Tampa wants to be the first team since the 80’s Isles to win three straight cups. This just might be the Eastern Conference’s best first round series. Matthews, Marner, Tavares and Nylander vs. Stamkos, Kucherov, Point and Hedman. I might be crazy for saying it but… Leafs in 6. The Leafs have to break the curse at some point… right?
Rob L.: TOR in 5
I’m not going to go as far as to say this is the Leafs year, but I think some karma might be coming their way this year after somewhat recent letdowns. And it’s not to say TBL isn’t a sound team, I just think TOR is more sound barring some more ridiculous bad luck.
Becky: TBL in 6
I just don’t trust Toronto to do anything until they do something. Tampa is never not scary and Toronto is never not choking. Everyone is welcome to throw this in my face if the Leafs win it all this year.
Rob C: TOR in 6
It’s really difficult to win three Stanley Cups in a row, especially in the salary cap era; so difficult that it hasn’t been done since the 1980-83 Islanders dynasty. The Leafs are so, so, so due to win a playoff series, I think it finally happens.
Dave: TOR in 6
Tampa is vulnerable, and their offense isn’t nearly as good as it used to be. Toronto is also better than people give them credit for…they have 115 points! If Toronto gets goaltending, they will be a tough out.
Conall: TOR in 6
Eastern Conference: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins
Russ: BOS in 7
The biggest upset of the first round happens here. The Bruins shock the world and ride the talents of Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak to a huge series win in seven games. @NYRFan92360244 will not make it past round one 😉
Rob L.: BOS in 6
While I think Round 2 will provide one or two more upsets, I think Boston has the best chance to make noise in Round 1. They have the best L1 in hockey and while CAR might have the depth, BOS will play their shutdown style and make it hell for CAR to get near the net.
Becky: CAR in 7
I think this one is a toss-up and I’m picking the Hurricanes to win as a reverse jinx, since I want nothing good for them. Boston plays a heck of a shutdown style of hockey and something about first pair Tony DeAngelo just doesn’t strike fear in me for the Bruins’ offense. If Andersen doesn’t come back, or comes back later than Game 3, this might be Boston in 6 or 7, but for now let’s get the mush on.
Rob C.: BOS in 7
The Hurricanes are very good, but Boston is a really tough matchup for them. They’ll be able to slow the game down and frustrate the Canes, a team with lots of players who are pretty easily thrown off their game (think Svechnikov and DeAngelo, for starters).
Dave: BOS in 7
Boston is very underrated since the trade deadline, with some of the best underlying numbers in the league. They have the scoring, team defense, and goaltending to be a nightmare for a team like Carolina, who relies on volume to overwhelm opponents. No Freddy Andersen spells disaster for Carolina.
Conall: CAR in 7
Western Conference: Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators
Russ: COL in 5
The Avalanche are absolutely terrifying. Led by Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen, they have superstars all over the ice. The Predators will become prey pretty quickly here.
Rob L.: COL in 6
The Avs are the heaviest favorite out of Vegas for a reason. Barring Saros coming back and stealing the series, Nashville will probably get outshot & out chanced 60/40 or worse, but because it’s hockey let’s get weird and say they steal two games.
Becky: NSH in 6
There’s no rhyme or reason, this is just my upset of Round 1. Stranger things have happened.
Rob C.: COL in 5
There isn’t really any good reason to pick Nashville in this series with Juuse Saros out injured. They may not win a game, though it’s hockey, so I’ll give them one.
Dave: COL in 4
Colorado is really freaking good.
Conall: COL in 5
Western Conference: Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
Russ: MIN in 7
This is going to be the best series of the first round in the Western Conference. The Wild are hungry for playoff success and have the stars to lead the way in Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. The Blues have been to the mountaintop and want to get there again.
Rob L.: MIN in 7
I could see this series going either way – lately both teams have had a similar arc of hot shooting and below average goaltending, so who knows what happens there. STL has the special teams edge while MIN has been good all year at 5v5/EV… smells like a 7 gamer.
Becky: STL in 7
If you’ve watched any of these teams play each other, you know we’re going to be in for a treat during this series. I, for one, am grateful for the schedulers putting these games on Rangers’ off nights. The Wild and Blues are evenly matched and already rivals, so hopefully this series goes long and doesn’t disappoint. I’m picking the Blues because I want them to win, but I truly believe this series can go either way.
Rob C.: MIN in 7
This is going to be a hell of a series. The teams are evenly matched, and already natural rivals. There’s lots of skill to go around, and a decent helping of grit as well. I’ll give the advantage to the higher seed here, though it’s slight.
Dave: STL in 7
I think STL is a little underrated. This is likely the closest series we will see in the first round. I think it’s a toss up, but I gave it to STL because of their +69 goal differential. Nice.
Conall: MIN in 7
Western Conference: Calgary Flames vs. Dallas Stars
Russ: CGY in 6
The Stars return to the playoffs will be a short stay. If the Colorado Avalanche weren’t in the way, the Flames would’ve been my pick to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. The Flames are damn good and they’ll burn a Stars team that is in a bit of a re-tool phase.
Rob L.: CGY in 5
Of all the series either this or COL/NSH makes sense for a sweep. DAL is simply a one line/one pair team, and while goaltending can win a series CGY isn’t exactly weak there either.
Becky: CGY in 4
My one choice for a sweep, Calgary is going to steamroll the Stars. The Flames have been consistently good all year, and the Stars don’t have much depth.
Rob C.: CGY in 5
The Stars have been erratic all year, while the Flames have been just the opposite: consistent. I also don’t think this will be a long series.
Dave: CGY in 5
I think Dallas gets one at home, but they get steamrolled by a far superior Calgary team. Don’t sleep on the Flames to come out of the West.
Conall: CGY in 5
Western Conference: Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings
Russ: EDM in 6
It’s fun to dump on the Oilers I get it, but this time the law firm of McDavid, Draisaitl and Associates will prosecute the kingdom of LA and send them packing in six games. McDavid is too damn good to keep failing in the postseason.
Rob L.: EDM in 6
I think this will be closer than most think because LAK is a sound team that struggled all year to score goals at 5v5/EV despite good shot & chance figures. That being said EDM righted the ship in the second half and LAK’s goaltending did quite the opposite.
Becky: EDM in 7
The Oilers have made second half progress, but they’re a flat, personality-free team. I still think they beat LA, but I don’t see them going beyond the second round. The Kings are young but I think they take the Oilers to 7 games.
Rob C.: EDM in 6
A midseason coaching change and the addition of (as horrible as this is to say) Evander Kane seem to have solidified things for the Oilers. While I don’t think they’re a legitimate Stanley Cup threat, they should handle a young Kings team that has regressed a bit during the second half of the season.
Dave: EDM in 7
Part of me wants to say LAK because of the absolute tire fire the Edmonton media will be if the Oilers lose. But I think this is just a time where the Oilers outscore their own terrible goaltending. They will run into and get crushed by Calgary in the second round, so we just need to wait a bit.
Conall: EDM in 6