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BSH Staff Predictions: Eastern Conference Round 1

Let’s get guessing!

NHL: DEC 03 Hurricanes at Bruins Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The playoffs are upon us and we’ve got a whole new round of matchups to talk about! We had a couple of fun upsets (Montreal and Columbus, hello), and another team drop in the seeding after a poor round robin to follow up a stellar regular season (Boston, hello), and that’s left us with some interesting matchups for this first round, that’s for sure. And what do we make of them? Who’s going to do some damage and advance to the second round? Our staff weighs in.

No. 1 Flyers vs. No. 8 Canadiens

Maddie: I’m gonna be direct here—the Flyers are going to take this one. That isn’t even the homer take, it’s just the right one. I know the Habs upset the Penguins and that might be enough to make you a little worried about this matchup, but the Flyers are a demonstrably better team and should take this one pretty easily. Carey Price might steal them a game, but I think the Flyers can make pretty quick work of the Canadiens. Flyers in five.

Craig: I’m with Maddie here. The Flyers have more talent and are flying right now with AV’s system. The Penguins helped the Habs out a little in the Qualifying Round and Philly could make some of the same mistakes, but I don’t see it happening. The Canadiens won’t have a weak defensive pair to pick apart and they can’t bank on hanging on for dear life at 5-on-5 only to be bailed out on special teams. Unless Carey Price goes Jaroslav Halak this series is over in five.

Steph: I refuse to live in a world where people think there is a legitimate possibility that the Canadiens win this series. Carey Price is still a good goalie, that is indisputable, but the rest of the team ... who is even left? The Flyers just steamrolled the best teams in the league, they’ll dismantle this Habs team that shouldn’t even be in the playoffs. Flyers for the sweep.

Drew: Flyers. In. Four.

Kyle: I just don’t see a way the Flyers lose this series. It would take Carey Price returning to his old form and then some for the Habs to survive. I think he probably steals a game, so I’ll go Flyers in five.

Mike: The Flyers are the better team here and though I fully expect Price to steal a game or so cause you know he’s super good and showed it against the Penguins. The Flyers are simply too deep at forward —something Pittsburgh was not— and will wear down the Canadiens’ heavily used top-three on defense by series end. Flyers in six.

Kurt: I am almost distressingly confident in this Flyers team. I need to ground myself a little bit here. Also, I think Montreal’s capable of turning this into a series. But I also think the Flyers are pretty clearly just better, and they have the depth to match up with Montreal’s. Flyers in six.

Ryan G.: Sure, Carey Price might have the ability to steal a game or two, but the Flyers are far and away the better team. Flyers in five.

No. 2 Lightning vs. No. 7 Blue Jackets

Maddie: This is a tough one! In my heart of hearts I think the Lightning should be able to take out the Blue Jackets, but we do all remember what happened last year, and how the Blue Jackets just largely shut down the Maple Leafs, and the Lightning may well be without Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman for this series, so I’m not feeling super confident in that pick. I think the Blue Jackets will give the Lightning some trouble, but I think Joonas Korpisalo is going to come down to earth a bit as well. *starting to sweat* Lightning in seven.

Craig: I’ve been saying I think this Lightning team is different because they are still loaded talent-wise but now they have something to prove in the postseason and it seems like they have focused more on defense this season. Even though they are playing the Blue Jackets again and the injuries to Stamkos and Hedman scare me, I still think Tampa Bay does it. I think the Hedman injury is huge and I have images of Columbus sweeping again, but I just can’t pick the BJs to do it again. Tampa Bay in six.

Steph: I think it would be hilarious for the Blue Jackets to win again so I’m picking them to do exactly that. I don’t think they’re going to sweep, but I think the Lightning are injured enough for it to be a real problem for them. BJs in seven.

Kyle: There’s no way they lose again to this team, right? Tortorella is a fantastic coach and their goalies with extremely Finnish names are good, but come on. Those Tampa players know how embarrassing it’s going to be if they lose this again. With that said, I think Tampa wins in 7 because Columbus is just that annoying.

Drew: I’m gonna stir up some controversy and say that Tampa yet again bow out to the Blue Jackets. After surviving the Leafs’ miraculous 3-0 down comeback and overtime win, the Jackets stormed back and took game five convincingly. Now, the Lightning are a better team than Toronto, but momentum is in Columbus’ favor, and it would be such a storyline if Tampa lose in the first round again. Columbus wins in seven games.

Mike: The Lightning have some very real injury concerns if Victor Hedman misses any significant time and the Blue Jackets have plenty of momentum —sound familiar— after upsetting the Maple Leafs in the qualifier. Tampa will get its revenge, though, needing six games to exorcise their demons.

Kurt: Here’s what’s gonna go down. The Lightning jump out to a 3-0 series lead, and everyone’s going to start asking if they’ve slayed their postseason demons and are the new Team To Beat. Then, in Game 4, Elvis Merzlikins is going to get a 49-save shutout in a 2-0 Columbus win, the Blue Jackets fight to win games five and six, and there is a motherfuckin’ takequake about the Lightning. Calls to blow up the team, fire Jon Cooper, all that good stuff. And then the Lightning jump out to a 4-0 lead in Game 7 — and almost blow it!!! — but don’t. Let’s get wild.

Ryan G.: The Lightning were the team to beat in the round robin coming in for me, and although the Flyers did that rather easily, the Blue Jackets aren’t the Flyers. There’ll be some frustrating games for the Lightning, and some good Torts quotes, but Tampa Bay can’t let it happen again, can they? Lightning in six.

No. 3 Capitals vs. No. 6 Islanders

Maddie: I am so tired of the Islanders, gang. I know they made it past the play-in but also... the Panthers just really are not that good. The Capitals didn’t have a stellar round robin, but I think they’re going to pull it together for the first round, and I don’t really trust the Islanders to be able to hold them off when they do. Capitals in six.

Craig: I think this series is going seven games but only because it’s Barry Trotz against his old club and his old team didn’t look great during the round robin. Washington has more overall talent and they are about to get John Carlson back as well. The Islanders can muck it up and can beat most teams playing their game, but the Caps can play a similar type game. I can see the Caps shaking off a little more rust and blowing a game early in the series and Trotz’ inside info on his former team turning this into a seven-game series that Washington wins.

Steph: I hate this series. I honestly don’t think either team is very good but if I had to choose, which I guess I do, I’m picking Caps in six. Maybe seven. Just gross all around.

Drew: I think the Capitals take this series in six games. I’m not at all impressed by the Islanders’ victory over the Panthers, as Florida were very bad. I think in the end the Capitals have enough top end talent to win.

Kyle: I truly hate everything about this Islanders team, and that’s why it pains me so much to pick them. I don’t think they’re a better team than Washington, but I think Barry Trotz coaching against his former team is a recipe for a stupid Islanders dumb luck series win. Isles in 6.

Mike: This certainly has all the feels of a long and hard series for sure. The Capitals have looked far from the Cup winning team of a few years ago and need their big guns to show up in order to win this series. Best thing Barry Trotz does? Shut down offensive firepower. Islands in a mild upset, going to a game seven.

Kurt: I don’t think I’ve guessed right on a single game the New York Islanders have played in the last two years. Let’s try and jinx them here. Isles in six.

Ryan G.: I think the Eastern Conference could see three upsets (everyone except the Flyers, obviously). The Islanders are just so confusingly good under Barry Trotz and will make this a close series, but the Capitals come out on top in seven games.

No. 4 Bruins vs. No. 5 Hurricanes

Maddie: This is gonna be a weird one, for sure. The Bruins looked straight up bad in the round robin, but they are still a very good team and you have to think that they’ll be able to turn it on again at some point. But the Hurricanes looked good in the play-in round (even if they were only playing a not very good Rangers team), and they should be getting Dougie Hamilton back, and that’s going to be huge for them. I think the Bruins do have the potential to make me look really stupid here, but I think I’m liking the Hurricanes in this series. Canes in seven.

Craig: My heart wants to pick the Hurricanes, but I think the Bruins are going to pull this one out in seven games. It’s been rough for Boston recently as the city recently lost Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Mookie Betts, the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, and still have to acknowledge Bill Simmons grew up there so they need a break. It would have been a really close series before the season paused and I think the round robin might be skewing the public’s opinion a bit as Carolina beat a defenseless hockey team and the Bruins had to play the Flyers as well as the two other best teams in the conference. I think Carolina can hang with Boston at 5-on-5 and will probably put them on their heels at points in this series, but I just feel like the Bruins will advance.

Steph: With Dougie Hamilton coming back from his extended museum tour (I kid, I kid), this is a strong Hurricanes team. Pair that with Boston looking like trash poop and I am picking the Canes in five.

Kyle: There is a strong chance that Boston’s struggles in the round robin were nothing, but what if they weren’t? The Canes have a ton of momentum coming off absolutely destroying the Rangers in the play-in series, and although the Rangers aren’t very good, momentum is momentum. I think this series goes six with the Canes coming out on top.

Drew: The Bruins looked bad in the round robin, and I’m going to use that as my excuse to claim an upset here. Sure, the Rangers were terrible and it wouldn’t have been that hard for Carolina to destroy them, but I was surprised at just how efficiently the Hurricanes did so. I think Carolina take the series in six.

Mike: After the steaming pile of turds the Bruins left behind them in the round-robin there’s no possible way to pick them to beat the Hurricanes right? Right. Carolina in six.

Kurt: So ... I don’t read a ton into Boston’s struggles in the round robin? But I also never thought they were that much better than everyone in the league (they are really not that deep beyond that top line and in net)? But also I’m uneasy with the fact that our entire panel here is taking Carolina? But also also I think I’m taking them too? But also also also ugh I hate putting confidence in Petr Mrazek why does hockey have to be like this? Screw it, ‘Canes in seven.

Ryan G.: The Hurricanes just swept the Rangers. The Bruins haven’t won a game yet – and have looked pretty bad! The Bruins may be able to put it together, but the Canes are feisty. Carolina in seven.