BSH playoff predictions: Western Conference

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BSH playoff predictions: Western Conference
credit: Heather Barry / Heather Barry Images

And we're back to wrap up our predictions! If you read our Eastern Conference predictions already, you know the drill by now. If not... congrats on getting weird, reader? To catch you up, we've collected predictions on the outcomes of each of these first round series from our lovely BSH masthead. Here's what we're all thinking.

Avalanche vs. Kraken

Maddie: This is a tough one. With how banged up the Avs are, I feel less certain about their potential to absolutely run away with this series. I think it’s going to be closer than some of the models might be projecting. I’m kind of leaning towards the Avs in this one, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they get upset here. Avalanche in 7.
Thomas: I tend to really look at positional matchups when thinking about series and despite Alexandar Georgiev not even being the first- or second-best goaltender in his division, the Kraken have absolutely horrendous goaltending. Seattle’s depth will test Colorado but it is the Avs. Avalanche in six.
Kelly: I know the Avs are going through it and I know the stupid Kraken and their stupid coach were playing some really good hockey heading into the ‘yoffs, but I just can’t count the Avalanche out. Champs get respect, Avs in six.
Joe: I’m with Maddie, I think this is going to be closer than we expect due to injuries on the Avalanche and Seattle’s ability to roll four scoring lines, plus shaky goaltending on both sides–expect a lot of goals for both teams. Still, the Avs proved last year that you can get by on average goaltending, and the Kraken’s goaltending has not even been that. However, this series has a goalie revenge story overshadowed by Jonathan Quick’s presence in Las Vegas: Phillip Grubauer left the Avs to sign with Seattle, and I’m gonna say he’s the X-factor in this series. But it won’t be enough: Avalanche in six.
Kurt: Even without getting into the Dave Hakstol factor because even as a hater it seems like he’s done a good job this year … man, look at the rosters. Unlike with Tampa above, where we have to consider that they underwhelmed in the regular season and are worse than the team they’re playing, Colorado is just drastically better than Seattle even with their injuries. Avs in five.
Jacob: Avs are going to be without their captain in Gabriel Landeskog, who is very talented and equally as important to their roster construction. He brings a type of play that works so well in the playoffs, but we’re talking about the first round, and I think as long as they can stay relatively healthy and get shots on the questionable Seattle goaltending, they should be ok in the short term. There’s some questions around Cale Makar too, and if he is heavily limited this prediction might look really bad. But Avs in 5.
Matt: Man, wouldn’t it be crazy if the Kraken won their first ever playoff series against the defending champions? Kraken in six.
Nick: It felt like we spent all year talking about how Colorado seemed off this year before they reemerged as the unholy terror they’ve been for the past few years, winning 16 of their last 19 and storming back to win the Central. The loss of Gabriel Landeskog hurts, but J.T. Compher stabilized their middle six this season and the Avs should hold up against Seattle’s depth. Colorado has too much star power. Avs in four.
Ryan Q: I’m going to take the Avs here, but it’s not going to be the series a lot of people are probably expecting. The Kraken are good! Even with Dave Hakstol behind the bench! Plus, the Avs are missing their captain, and they’ve struggled with injuries all year. But they’re still the Avs, so I’m taking them in six.
Ryan G: The Kraken can beat bad teams but they lose against good teams. The Avalanche are a good team, perhaps one of the best given the fact that they won the Stanley Cup last year. Avs sweep.
Jay: This one will be closer than most think, but mostly because of the Av’s injuries. Avs in seven.
Mike D: Seattle might win a few games in this one but the Avs will rise to the occasion — just too much high-end firepower for the defending champs. Avs in six.

Stars vs. Wild

Maddie: I think it’s going to be weirdly satisfying to see the two green teams facing off. I think that’s my only commentary here. Stars in 6.
Thomas: Without Joel Eriksson Ek, the Wild’s chances of being able to shutdown the Stars’ top forwards has been greatly reduced. But if the Swedish center can make his way back from having a broken bone in his leg (he is a maniac), Minnesota might surprise some and they can just depend on Kirill Kaprizov and Filip Gustavsson for some carries. I’m doing it. Wild in seven.
Kelly: Ahh yes, the series I could not give fewer shits about (sorry Thomas). Since I like Thomas, Wild in six.
Joe: I am colorblind so watching two green teams face off is going to be a nightmare–especially cuz I think the shade of green Dallas wears is ugly and their jerseys are boring. They also happen to have one of the best top lines in the NHL (Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski centered by Roope Hintz), a strong defense anchored by Miro Heiskanen, and a star goaltender in Jake Oettinger. The Wild’s oppressive play might be able to keep the Stars quiet for stretches, but with their injuries I think this is Dallas’ series to lose. Stars in six.
Kurt: The Wild … kinda stunk down the stretch? They really need JEEK back because their center depth without him is very bad and I dunno if Kaprizov can do this all by himself. Dallas Sucks and all, but that team has grown on me. Stars in five.
Jacob: Joel Eriksson Ek’s absence will make it really tough for the Wild to contain Dallas’s Stars (pun intended), really only see this one going one way and I’m thinking Dallas gets it done in 5.
Matt: Wild in five.
Nick: Not having your shutdown center against maybe the league’s top line is less than ideal. At some point Jason Robertson is going to have his coronation as one of the league’s stars. This feels like the time. Dallas in six.
Ryan Q: I think it would be so cool to see the Wild go on a deep run, but they’re the Wild, so they’re not going to. Plus, the Stars have Jake Oettinger. Stars in five.
Ryan G: This is another series that really could go either way. On one hand, Dallas sucks. On the other hand, the Stars have a good mix of young talent (should’ve-been Flyers Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen, hello) and veteran leadership (Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn) that won’t go down easily. Stars in seven.
Jay: I don’t think can physically root for a team from Dallas, nor pick them to win. I will go with my gut and bias thank you very much. Wild in seven.
Mike D: Dallas has a deep veteran core with some bright young stars mixed in and feel primed for a run. Really believe in Oettinger in goal as a playoff difference maker once again, too. Stars in six.

Golden Knights vs. Jets

Maddie: I do not trust the Jets even a little bit. Considering how much they look like they’re imploding up there, I’m almost surprised they still managed to sneak into the playoffs? Golden Knights in 5.
Thomas: I don’t really like either of these teams, to be honest. And this might be the worst jersey matchup we have ever seen in a playoff series. Vegas in six.
Kelly: I know I’m supposed to think the Jets are good but like Maddie, I’m not buying it. The Knights did a Lightning and are likely getting Mark Stone back so I dunno, they just seem more like an actually good team than the Jets do. Going with VGK in five.
Joe: The Jets went from first in their division a couple months ago to squeaking into the playoffs because Calgary can’t win overtime games. That doesn’t generate much confidence. This is also going to be Jack Eichel’s first trip to the playoffs in his career, and I’m excited to see what he can do under that kind of pressure. If Mark Stone’s back and healthy, and Vegas has their goaltending sorted, I’m gonna make the bold claim that this is the only sweep of the first round: Golden Knights in four.
Kurt: Ah. I see I am on an island here. Winnipeg is not a team I have been very high on, but they got better defensively down the stretch and they have a top-5-at-worst goalie in the league. Don’t love picking against a Vegas team that’s probably getting Mark Stone back, but I don’t think the talent gap here in terms of skaters, even with him, is so big it wipes out the goaltending advantage for Winnipeg. Jets in seven.
Jacob: This is Connor Hellebuyck’s series to win or lose. He is very capable of winning it, but I’m not sure the Jets have the horses to keep up with a Vegas team who has proven to be so hard to beat. Mark Stone is one of the best 200 foot wingers i’ve ever seen. Vegas in 5.
Matt: Golden Knights in four.
Nick: Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, and Shea Theodore all missed significant time this year and Vegas still coasted to the division title. The underlying metrics are more fine than great, but the Golden Knights might be a different team than they’ve been all season as they appear to be getting healthy at the right time. Meanwhile, the Jets narrowly avoided a collapse and punched their playoff ticket in Game 81. The only reason I’m not calling a sweep is out of respect for Connor Hellebuyck. Vegas in five.
Ryan Q: I think the Jets are the worst team that qualified for the playoffs. They had a hot start to the season, but they flamed out a bit after the new year. The Golden Knights have their flaws, but I think they’ll win this series easily. It’ll also be cool to so postseason Jack Eichel. Knights in five.
Ryan G: The Jets have a better offense than people give them credit for. Jack Eichel might be the best player in the series, and Mark Stone returning gives the Knights a key cog, but Winnipeg has a huge goaltending advantage with Connor Hellebuyck. Jets in six.
Jay: Jets will choke like they always do, which I wish they would because they are one of the few Canadian teams I like. Vegas in five.
Mike D: The Golden Knights should win this series but Hellebuyck will make it hell for them in a couple games. Vegas in six.

Oilers vs. Kings

Maddie: The Kings definitely surprised me a little bit this year, in some ways, they’ve looked good and put together a nice little run here. That said, I think they’ll be pretty well outmatched by the Oilers in this one. Oilers in 6.
Jacob: Kings are a quality team that probably need one more year in the oven and some supplemental talent. Oilers are loaded for bear and even though they make some mistakes, they have the best player in the world. Oilers in 5.
Thomas: The Kings are good and have been edging closer to competing for the top spot in the Pacific, but the Oilers fixed a massive and glaring hole in their lineup by acquiring Mattias Ekholm. They seem more for real than they ever have, and you just know that Connor McDavid is going to have 20 points in the first round (and they will all be on the power play). Oilers in six.
Kelly: I’m rooting for the Oilers to come out of the West because it seems like the most fun option, so much like the Carolina Hurricanes victory I’m going to manifest this one too: Oilers in five.
Joe: I have the Oilers making it to the finals, so easy choice here–it’s just a question of how they get it done. The Kings have been very good since the deadline, and Joonas Korpisalo has posted a 0.910 save percentage since arriving from Columbus–even Vladislav Gavrikov has excelled in his new digs. But the Oilers have two of the best players in the world, a rookie goaltender in Stuart Skinner who saved their season, and the addition of Mattias Ekholm at the deadline pretty much fixed their defensive core. It’s not gonna be easy for Edmonton, but they’ll wear down the Kings’ and do it in seven.
Kurt: Oh boy. Back to the island I go. I can’t believe the Kings nailed the trade deadline the way they did with, of all people, Vlaldislav Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo. Edmonton is cruising right now and people are very high on them, and it feels like whenever they’ve actually had expectations it’s come crashing down on them. And, when these teams played in the regular season, LA managed to slow them down pretty well. There’s gotta be one big upset in the first round, and the gap between these teams isn’t as big as it’s being made out to be. Going for it. Kings in six. (That said, if this goes to seven I absolutely do not see McDavid losing that game at home.)
Matt: I haven’t watched a single game featuring either of these teams all season outside of one of, I think, the New Year’s Eve Flyers-Kings game, so I might as well join Kurt on the island and pick the Kings. Better to be bold and wrong than boring and right! Kings in six.
Nick: What a shame this is a first-round series. The Oilers and Kings were two of the eight best teams in the league since the deadline, as both addressed major holes with Mattias Ekholm and Joonas Korpisalo/Vladislav Gavrikov, respectively. That said, while the Kings are quietly becoming a strong team, the Oilers won 18 of their last 21 games and finally have a supporting cast that won’t prevent Connor McDavid from winning his first Cup. Worth remembering, while the Kings have some strong defensive centers in Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault, McDavid lit them up for 14 points in their seven-game showdown last year. I think history repeats itself. Edmonton in seven.
Ryan Q: I don’t think this will be the seven-game series we saw from the Oilers and Kings last season. In fact, I think Edmonton wins handily. I’m not sold on the Kings’ goaltending, and Connor McDavid is a literal god, so I’ll pick his team. Oilers in four.
Ryan G: The Oilers ended the season on a 14-0-1 run and are 18-2-1 (!!!) with Mattias Ekholm in the lineup. Edmonton finally got Connor McDavid some defensive help and the Oilers are ready for a deep run. Oilers in six.
Jay: Oilers are clearly the better team and Connor McDavid might actually make a SportsCenter segment with his play. Oilers in six.
Mike D: I picked the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup so no shot I have them losing round one. The Kings are a good team but I think Edmonton has been lights out since bringing in Ekholm and their stars will keep the scoreboard lit up in their favor — it’s McDavid’s time, Oilers in six.