NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 1

So, after not doing it last year because things were so out of whack, I’m going to try to predict the playoffs again and hope to improve on the 6-9 record from 2019.  I’ve joked in the past that the less I follow hockey the better I do, so if that holds this year should be a banner one for me.

North Division:

Montreal vs Toronto:  Since Toronto has had a history in the past of having really good regular seasons and then fumbling in the playoffs, this is one where I might be tempted to take Montreal.  However, the Canadians are struggling a bit as well and have injury problems, and Toronto has enough scoring that they should be able to hold on to get a series win.  If they flub it, I wouldn’t actually be surprised, but I don’t expect them to flub it that badly either.

Winnipeg vs Edmonton:  Edmonton is a team that is a bit shallow, relying a bit too much on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it’s pretty easy to shut down one line in the playoffs.  However, the Jets backed their way into the playoffs and have some notable flaws, and as we’ve seen with other stars it is really, really hard to shut them down completely.  Again, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Jets pulled it off but if the Oilers’ goaltending holds out they should be able to outscore the Jets.

East Division:

Islanders vs Pittsburgh:  The Islanders are a team, as we saw over the past two seasons, that play a disciplined style that can easily produce upsets.  However, they struggled after the trade deadline while Pittsburgh really picked things up.  As above, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Islanders figured it out and beat Pittsburgh, but I wouldn’t expect it either.

Boston vs Washington:  This one is really close.  Washington stumbled slightly at the end and so lost first place, but Boston is really only in third because the Islanders struggled.  Boston might have improved the most at the trade deadline as a team, but I can’t really bet against Washington and Ovechkin for an at least slightly less proven Boston team.  Again, Boston is certainly capable of beating them, and this is the series that I most think will be a coin flip, but I’m going to go with Washington this time,

Central Division:

Nashville vs Carolina:  Nashville garnered far less points this season than the other three teams in their division and so kinda squeaked into the playoffs.  Carolina stormed into first place and has been surprising in previous years in the playoffs, so they should know how to play in the playoffs.  It’s a pretty easy pick to say that Carolina has been playing well enough and has a hard enough working team to beat Nashville.

Tampa Bay vs Florida:  It’s hard to count out the defending Stanley Cup Champions, but Florida was on fire coming into the playoffs and Tampa Bay was struggling.  Tampa is supposed to get some players back that will help, but it’s unclear that it will be enough.  Obviously, Tampa could win this one, but I’m going to go with the hot team here.

West Division:

St. Louis vs Colorado:  You can’t count out the Blues, but the Avalanche are a skilled team that seem to have been built the right way, and took first in the division.  They’re a favourite for the Cup, so they should be able to win one series.

Minnesota vs Vegas:  Vegas was an expansion team built right and has had quite a bit of success over the past three seasons, and almost took first in the division.  Minnesota has been a disappointing team over the past few years and playoff runs.  Vegas should know how to win and Minnesota hasn’t proven that they do.  I’m going with Vegas on this one.

Summary:

North Division:

Montreal vs Toronto
Winnipeg vs Edmonton Incorrect

East Division:

Boston vs Washington Incorrect
Islanders vs Pittsburgh Incorrect

Central Division:

Nashville vs Carolina Correct
Tampa Bay vs Florida Incorrect

West Division:

St. Louis vs Colorado Correct 
Minnesota vs Vegas

Overall Record:
Home Ice Advantage Record:

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