The play-in round has finally come to a close, and our first round matchups are set. We got some interesting outcomes from this one, with the Blackhawks upsetting the Oilers and the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Blues slipping to the fourth seed. You know, just as we all expected. Our predictions may not have all been correct from the play-in, but we’re taking another crack them for the first round, all the same. For real this time.
No. 1 Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Blackhawks
Drew: Those pesky Blackhawks sure did shock me when they knocked out Connor McDavid and the Oilers (well not really, the Oilers are...well...bad). However, I don’t think Chicago will have much luck against a very good Golden Knights team (or should I say an actually good team in the Golden Knights). Having gone 3-0 in the round robin, like the Flyers, the Golden Knights are one of the teams to beat in the West. I’ll take Vegas in five games.
Maddie: Yeah, I’m with Drew on this one. The Blackhawks upsetting the Oilers was still a bit of a surprise, but I really don’t trust them in a series against the Golden Knights. They’re just so much deeper, they can actually play defense, and they aren’t just going to punt the first game by putting a disaster goalie in to start. I think five games feels like a safe bet, but I’m going to get a little spicy with this one. Golden Knights in four.
Mike: I hope the Blackhawks get swept as punishment for denying us a few more weeks of Connor McDavid. Vegas in four.
Craig: The Blackhawks faced a flawed Oilers team in the Qualifying Round and still gave up 15 goals in four games. Vegas doesn’t have Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, but they still have a lot of high-end talent and depth plus a lot more on the back end than Edmonton. Vegas in five. No, Vegas in four. Chicago’s the 12th-seed.
Kyle: Going to have to agree with everyone here. The Hawks exploited an extremely flawed Oilers team and will be in for a rude awakening vs. Vegas. I think they steal a game, but that’s it. Vegas in five.
Kurt: I will show some humility over my “Blackhawks get swept against Edmonton” prediction here ... by giving Chicago one win against an actual good team in Vegas. Sorry, they still stink. Knights in five.
Kelly: Hawks suck, Knights in 5.
Ryan G.: The Blackhawks shocked the world by beating the Edmonton Oilers, but really the joke was on us for believing in the Oilers. They have two of the best players in the world and then ... nobody. The Golden Knights have a stacked top six and are pretty deep as well. The Blackhawks will pull out a game, but Vegas in five.
Steph: Vegas gonna sweep, the Blackhawks are so bad.
Drew: I like the Avalanche in this series. Though I think the Coyotes stand a better chance against the Avs than I think Chicago does against Vegas, I’d be hard pressed to expect an upset here. After all, the difference between first and second seed for Colorado was an overtime goal going against them. Avalanche in six.
Maddie: Arizona is a weird one, for sure. I didn’t really think they were going to get past the Predators in the play-in, but they looked pretty good and I think they earned their spot in the playoffs, so credit to them there. But, that said, this Avalanche team is just so good, so much more complete, and I think they’re going to give the Coyotes a lot of trouble. Avalanche in five.
Mike: The Coyotes are playing with a ton of confidence right now after ousting the Predators in the qualifying round, but Colorado is so deep up front and on defense that I see them being able to win what could end up being a close series. In the end Arizona just doesn’t have enough firepower to pull the upset. Avs in six.
Craig: This kind of feels like the West’s version of Flyers-Canadiens to me. The Coyotes have qualities you need in a potential upset and it could happen, but it just...won’t. The Avs have too much talent and are better playoff team than the Predators. Every game in this series might be close on the scoreboard, but Colorado should be in control the entire time. Avalanche in six.
Kyle: This is such a weird series because I could see the Yotes taking the Avs all the way to seven and winning it, or getting swept. It really all depends on how good Darcy Kuemper can continue to be. I think the Avs face a small scare, but win in six.
Kurt: This is happening. I can’t explain it, but some really stupid shit always happens in the first round and I think it’s going to happen here. Coyotes in six.
Kelly: It’s cute that the Coyotes are Doing Stuff now but the Avalanche are an extremely talented hockey team. I’m giving Arizona a little respect with two wins, but Avs in six.
Ryan G.: I really don’t know what to think of the Coyotes, but I do know what to think about the Avalanche. Colorado is really, really good and finally have a healthy group to help out Nathan MacKinnon. Darcy Keumper will have to be on his game for Arizona to win, and even then it’ll take six or seven games. I don’t think that happens. Avalanche in six.
Steph: I took a risk on the Coyotes in the last round and it paid off, so I’m going to do it again. I think it takes them seven games but let’s all get our howl on. Yotes in seven.
Drew: I’m gonna pick the Flames to upset Dallas! I thought the Stars looked fine but uninspired in the round robin games, and Calgary managed to put a lot of pucks in Connor Hellebuyck’s net (Not that the Jets’ defense helped at all). Winnipeg also had some key players missing for some if not all of the series, namely Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, so I understand arguments that the Flames got lucky. However, I just have a feeling about this series. Flames in seven.
Maddie: I think I’m contractually obligated to pick the Flames in this series, but that said, it’s a pick that I do feel really good about. The Jets were pretty beat up in the play-in round, but overall I really liked how the Flames were playing. Their regular season streakiness scares me a little bit, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic about their chances. Flames in seven.
Mike: I don’t feel super confident in picking his one just out of Calgary’s penchant for being very Jekyll and Hyde over what the last few years? Also Dallas is getting Tyler Seguin back and has far and away the better netminder in this series. Stars in seven.
Craig: This is another one where I don’t trust both teams after the round robin and Qualifying Round. The Flames looked good against Winnipeg but the Jets needed Connor Hellebuyck to play like a savior to really have a chance, which didn’t happen, and then both Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine missed the final three games of the series. The Stars didn’t look amazing in the round robin but I like the system Jim Montgomery has put in place down there that Rick Bowness has keep intact. I think it helps out Ben Bishop a lot, who Dallas should be getting back for the start of the series. I don’t hate Cam Talbot as much as some other Flyers’ fans, but I don’t know if he’s going to keep stopping pucks at a .945 clip either. Stars in six.
Kyle: I went back and forth on this one a few times but I think I like the Flames here. The Stars are such a confusing team especially come playoff time and I just don’t know if I trust them to get it done. Flames in 7.
Kurt: I trust the Calgary Flames as far as I can throw them and every time I pick a series involving them I get it wrong, so I’m going to pick them in hopes that they lose and I don’t have to try and pick them again next round. Also, Dallas sucks. People forget that. Flames in seven.
Kelly: The Dallas Stars make no sense, at all. And even though Calgary is full of problems, at least they score goals sometimes. Flames in six.
Ryan G.: Watching the Stars in the round robin was painful at times, and looking at their roster isn’t much better, folks! The Flames can catch fire (ha) with Cam Talbot finding a groove in net. I’ve always kind of liked the Flames as a fun team to watch, but they can also lay a turd every once in a while. This series is such a toss up. Flames in seven.
Steph: I do not believe in either of these teams, so this is really hard for me, but I am picking the Stars. I guess. I always, always, always regret picking the Stars. I just think the Flames are a bigger mess right now than the Stars. Dallas in seven (gross).
No. 4 Blues vs. No. 5 Canucks
Drew: Upset time again! Canucks in five games. The Blues did not play very well at all in the round robin and the Canucks, while they didn’t look amazing, turned on the skill at the end of their play-in series.
Maddie: This could be a weird one, I think, and I don’t feel super confident betting on either side, one way or another. My guts says that the Blues take this one, despite how they struggled in the round robin, they’re just deeper and the Cancucks can be a little streaky. I really wouldn’t be surprised if this went either way, but I think I’m going to go with the Blues in seven.
Mike: This could end up being a toss-up given how the Blues limped through the round-robin —although not nearly as bad as the Bruins. That said they’re still super deep everywhere and we’ve already seen Jordan Binnington full capable of stealing enough games to turn a series. Think they’ll figure it out, though it’ll take a while. Blues in seven.
Craig: I can see how the Canucks could pull this off, but I’m not feeling it (which means it’ll happen now). Vancouver looked real good in the Qualifying Round while St. Louis did not, but I guess I’m going to buy into playoff experience for this series. The Blues play a style that’s beneficial in the playoffs and like Mike pointed out we’ve seen Binnington steal pivotal games before. I can see a close series turning on the Canucks making a blunder or unraveling for a loss while Binnington steals a game for St. Louis to help swing a seven-game series the Blues’ way.
Kyle: I think the Canucks are in a really good spot to pull off the upset here. It’s not going to be easy, and in no way would I be shocked if the Blues pull this one out, but I’m going Canucks in seven.
Kurt: I just ... don’t think Vancouver is good. I know Pettersson and Hughes are awesome but man I just don’t think they’re good and I’m banking on the Blues kind of just having slept through the round robin and waking up when the games actually matter. Blues in five.
Kelly: Yeah I’m with Kurt on the ‘Nucks. I just don’t think they’re very good. I have Blues in six, but Blues in five wouldn’t shock me at all.
Ryan G.: This is another series that I think is a toss up. The Blues didn’t win a game in the round robin, but they are the reigning champs and that has to mean something, right? (It doesn’t, but lets go with it). The Canucks have some fun players, but not much on defense and it could come down to Jacob Markstrom. I think the fighting Craig Berubes turn it on for the playoffs after a bad round-robin performance. Blues in six.
Steph: I am very happy the Blues won the cup last year, it was fun and cool and Brayden Schenn got his championship. Now I am picking against them because I really like the young core of the Canucks. REALLY like that young core. I don’t know if they have what it takes to go far in this postseason, but I think they can win this series in six.