It’s that time of year again, folks! The playoffs are upon us, and you know what that means: it’s time for us to make our predictions and hope that none of the teams do anything crazy and make us look dumb.
Maddie: This is a weird one. The Capitals kind of seem like the favorite here, but I also keep looking at the Bruins and thinking “man, I don’t know, I think they’re finally hitting that downward spiral,” and then they keep finding ways to win. I don’t understand it. This series I think is going to go to seven games, and I think is going to be kind of a toss up, honestly. So I’m going to go with *flips coin* Capitals in seven (but I don’t feel great about it).
Drew: It looks like the Capitals have been the hotter team going into the playoffs, and are probably the deeper team, however I’m going to take Boston in this matchup. Boston shift gears when it comes to post-season time, and I simply can’t escape the feeling that they’re going to win this series. Boston in six games.
Steve: Yeah, I have no idea. I like a lot of what the Capitals bring to the plate. Ovechkin is always a threat. Backstrom is a guy who constantly flies under the radar, but puts up points. Carlson is one of the best blue line threats in the league. Yet, every instinct I have is screaming Bruins. They are so deep with the line that is known to be very good at hockey (I refuse to call it by its name), David Krejci, Craig Smith, and a bargain bin Taylor Hall. The young defense might be a concern and it is hilarious that they immediately have to play Chara in the playoffs after parting ways with him. Regardless, I am feeling Bruins in 7.
Eamon: Boston being able to roll a highly capable second line behind the ever-irritating “Perfection Line” makes this a much tougher series for the Caps, who have faded a bit down the stretch. These are two offenses propelled by high-end finishing talent, but the Bruins have an incredibly stingy defense (3rd best in xGA/60) and more experienced goaltending. I’ll take Boston in six games, but I could see this series going to seven and falling the way of Washington.
Ryan Q.: I’m thinking Boston just might win the whole thing this year. The addition of Taylor Hall was huge, and now the firepower they have up and down the roster is borderline unfair. It’s crazy enough that they have Pasta, Bergeron and Marchand on the top line, but now they have David Krejci playing with a former MVP winner who’s playing like an MVP winner again after being stuck in Buffalo for most of the season. Washington’s good, but Boston’s better. Bruins in six.
Kelly: Both of these teams have had some injury issues down the stretch, both teams stumbled a bit recently, but both teams are scary when firing at all cylinders, which you have to expect will be the case once the playoffs start. This feels like it’ll be a battle but I think Boston’s top-end talent will put them over the edge, so I’m going Boston in six.
Kyle: As much as I’d like to see Ovi go on a playoff tear, it’s just so hard to bet against the Bruins come playoffs. They’re one of those teams that seem built for playoff hockey and the “Perfection Line” is ... well the name tells you how good that line is. Their goaltending has been incredible all season good for fourth best goals allowed in the entire league. Bruins in six.
Brad: The Bruins had the best trade deadline and as tired as I am of Boston teams, just in general, having playoff success, I do want to see it pay off. I feel like whoever takes this series takes the East. Bruins in 7.
Kurt: It feels like Boston is trending in the right direction here, and I still have no idea who Washington’s goalie is (guess what it’s you!), but I feel like I’ve unsuccessfully bet against Washington in first-round series too many times before. Hm. I dunno. Let’s go back to the well. Gimme Boston in seven.
Ryan G.: I don’t see this series being as close as some of my fellow BSH writers here. I think the Bruins have a clear edge with their “Perfection” line and theft of Taylor Hall at the trade deadline. While the Capitals’ goalie situation is up in the air, the Bruins have a few reliable ‘tendies. Bruins in six.
Steve: This matchup is the worst. I loathe everything about this. The Penguins should easily win this. But, Islanders gonna Isle. They do their 90s hockey crap and it’s successful and we all fall asleep. The Penguins are great offensively, but will that be enough for the playoffs? I’m letting out a huge sigh and going with the Penguins in...6? Sure.
Maddie: Steve is absolutely right, this matchup is so cursed. I don’t even want to acknowledge its existence. I don’t think I want to bank on the Islanders going away quietly, but they are a bit of a mess, so I think the Penguins should have the edge in this one. Penguins in 6.
Drew: Islanders in seven games. I don’t think the Penguins are going to be prepared for the influx of hooking and obstruction penalties that are sure to be let go under the guise of tactics. New York’s “style of play” and pure dogged determination to perform Barry Trotz’ system will lead them over the Penguins.
Eamon: The Islanders have been legitimately elite across the board for the first time in the Barry Trotz era, but this season has been a tale of two teams: the one with Anders Lee, and the one without him. After losing their captain for the season, New York has declined in overall prowess, particularly when it comes to putting the puck in the net. The Penguins have adequate defense this season and the same gamebreaking veterans, but the answer in net is questionable. Casey DeSmith has been surprising in a small sample size, but Pittsburgh might prefer the more experienced Tristan Jarry, who has been a mess for much of the year. This will be another close series, but I see Pittsburgh closing it out in seven games.
Ryan Q.: Hopefully both these teams find a way to lose, because I wish nothing but failure upon both franchises. But, if I had to choose, I guess I’ll take the Pens in five. Turns out that Jeff Carter guy is still pretty good. Would be nice to have him on the Flyers!
Kelly: lol I’m not going to watch a single game of this cursed series. I hate these teams. I’m going Islanders in seven because refs put the whistles away in the playoffs which means Barry’s boys are going to be able to mid-90s Devils their way to a win over the Penguins’ (arguably) better lineup. Also I don’t trust the Penguins’ goalies. Also I can’t deal with The Discourse if the Penguins do anything with Jeff Carter on their team, so for the love of god, Islanders in seven.
Kyle: I mean this series is just nightmare fuel and I hate every bit of it. The Islanders, much like the Bruins, are built for playoff hockey where the referees simply do not call them out on the illegal crap they do. I don’t think I can bring myself to “root” for a team in this series. The Penguins are, well, the Penguins. They find some random player you’ve never heard of, put him with Sidney Crosby, and turn him into a 60 point player at WORST. I think the Islanders goaltending will be the difference here though, and they take it in seven.
Brad: As many have said above, what an absolutely terrible series. I do not care who wins, I will not watch one second of it, and I’m taking the Penguins in 4.
Kurt: It’s going to be the Penguins, because this season is going to end with the most infuriating outcome possible for Flyers fans (that being Ron Hextall winning the Cup with the Penguins). Now, will it be a four-game sweep that will prompt takes about how much better-prepared the Pens were for the Islanders than the Flyers were last year? Or a seven-game series to ensure maximum takeage possible? It’s definitely one of those two. (/flips coin) Heads. Penguins in four.
Ryan G.: The Islanders are bad and should feel bad. Wade Allison had more points (7) in 14 games than Kyle Palmieri (4) and Travis Zajac (2) had combined (6) in 17 and 13 games respectively. Jeff Carter and Ron Hextall (and Mark Friedman?) are going to make Flyers fans’ lives even more miserable. Penguins sweep.
Maddie: It feels really hard to bet against the Avalanche this year. They just won the President’s Trophy, and for good reason—this team is loaded. I don’t feel confident betting on a sweep, but I think they should handle the Blues with relative ease. Avalanche in five.
Drew: Avalanche in four. The President’s Trophy winners, in my belief, will sweep the Blues. Colorado have looked unbelievably deep and dangerous the whole year, and I think they have a good shot, no, a great shot at winning the cup.
Steve: Avs in five. They really won out in the **redacted** West division playoff matchups. Makar, McKinnon, Rantanen are all amazing. Sorry, St. Louis, no Gloria for you this year.
Eamon: I hate predicting one-sided spankings in the playoffs, because they rarely happen in the true sense, but this series is primed to be an asswhooping of epic proportions. The Blues have been abysmal this year offensively, and honestly don’t deserve to be a playoff team; their results are largely in line with the 2020-21 Flyers, who were arguably a better team sans goaltending. Jordan Binnington hasn’t been anything special this season, either, and Torey Krug has proven to be an insufficient replacement for Alex Pietrangelo. I’ll take the Avs in five due to the randomness of the playoffs, but I wouldn’t be blown away if St. Louis gets swept.
Ryan Q.: Sorry, St. Louis. The Avs are just too good to be eliminated in the first round. Nathan MacKinnon took a few games off (and cost me my fantasy championship, just so you know), and he’ll be back a little more fresh. Colorado’s winning this in five.
Kelly: I’ve read a few hilarious takes about how the Blues are a tougher grittier team and the Avs won’t know what to do with that in the playoffs but lmao no, AVS IN FIVE BABY LFG
Kyle: The Blues I think might give them a better run for their money than some think, but it’s impossible to pick against the Avs here. That team is absolutely stacked and unless St. Louis gets 2019 playoffs Jordan Binnington, there’s no conceivable way I feel the Blues win this. Avs in six.
Brad: All it takes is a hot goalie to cause some huge upsets, like what Sergei Bobrovsky did to the Lightning, but I just can’t bet on the Blues here. This Avs team SHOULD go deep. Colorado in five.
Kurt: Sorry, Craig. Avs in five.
Ryan G.: Yeah, the Avalanche are going to embarrass the Blues. Avs sweep.
Maddie: I think this one has some upset potential, but I do like the Golden Knights in this one. I think the Wild can definitely give them some trouble, but Vegas is... kinda scary good. This one should be interesting. Golden Knights in 7.
Drew: I’m going to take the underdog here, which is sure to make Quigley very happy, and take the Wild in seven games. The Wild really surprised everyone this year and I think they’ll be able to take Vegas pretty far and even win a round.
Steve: This one is going to be tight. I’m still surprised by just how good the Wild are this year, but I’m not sure it is quite enough to get them over the hump against the Knights. Vegas in 7.
Eamon: The Golden Knights are actually a pretty good partner for Minnesota to pull an upset on, particularly because of their weak defensive play this season. The Knights have been elite in xGA/60 for the past few years, but this season the team plummeted to 22nd in xGA/60 at 5-on-5 (via Evolving Hockey). The Wild remain one of the best teams in the NHL defensively, have solid enough goaltending, and boast one of the sneakier groups of star finishing talent in the league (12th in xGF/60, 5th in GF/60 at 5-on-5). I’ll take Minnesota with the stunning upset in five games, all thanks to the collapse of Marc-Andre Fleury, whose zigzagging career arc boggles my mind.
Ryan Q.: The Wild are the only team Vegas still hasn’t figured out. Ever since the Knights’ inaugural season, Minnesota’s given them fits in every matchup. On paper, Vegas is the better team by far. But I truly think the Wild might be able to pull of the gnarliest upset of the postseason here. Give me Wild in six.
Kelly: Minnesota has been bonkers this year in a way I don’t think anyone expected, so despite Vegas being crazy good I think that if any series has the potential for upset, it’s this one. I don’t think I can bet against the Golden Knights, though. So I’m going with the safe choice and saying VGK in six. An upset here would not shock me at all, though.
Kyle: This series might be my favorite one of the matchups we’ve gone over here. Kelly said it best about how good the Wild have been despite all odds, but wowie Vegas is pretty freakin’ good. Third best in the league in goals, first in goals against, and the sixth best play-driving team in the league. Pretty good numbers! I think this series goes seven no matter what, and I think I’m going Vegas? I don’t know, this series is going to be fun.
Brad: Kirill the thrill, baby! Vegas is certainly the favorite and I do like their roster a ton, but I just can’t shake the feeling that Minnesota sends them out early this year. Kaprizov has a ridiculous series and the Wild take it in six games.
Kurt: I know the Wild have played Vegas well this year, but ... not gonna overthink this one. Vegas might be the best team in the NHL. Vegas in six.
Ryan G.: This series could get ... Wild. Minnesota ran hot against Vegas this season but the Golden Knights are going to buckle down in the playoffs. The Wild are going to win a few games, but give me the Golden Knights in 7.
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