NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Final Previews and Predictions
The NHL Playoffs are now down to four teams playing for a chance to get to the Stanley Cup Final.
In the West, the Edmonton Oilers will look to take down the preseason Cup favorites in the Colorado Avalanche. That series begins on Tuesday night. And in the East, the New York Rangers fresh off another Game 7 win will take on the 2x defending champs, the Tampa Bay Lightning starting on Wednesday.
Here’s a quick preview with predictions for each Conference Final.
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round Three Opening Schedule
The NHL released its full schedule for Round 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here’s the openers for each series.
|WESTERN CONFERENCE||EASTERN CONFERENCE|
|(C1) Avalanche vs (P2) Oilers GM1: 5/31||(M2) Rangers vs (A3) Lightning GM1: 6/1|
Now here’s a look back at how I did predicting Round 1 which included 7 out of 8 hits.
|RD 1 MATCHUP||PREDICTION||RESULT||HIT/MISS|
|Panthers vs Capitals||Panthers in 6||Panthers in 6||ON THE MONEY|
|Maple Leafs vs Lightning||Lightning in 7||Lightning in 7||ON THE MONEY|
|Hurricanes vs Bruins||Bruins in 6||Hurricanes in 7||MISS|
|Rangers vs Penguins||Rangers in 5||Rangers in 7||HIT|
|Avalanche vs Predators||Avalanche in 4||Avalanche in 4||ON THE MONEY|
|Wild vs Blues||Blues in 7||Blues in 6||HIT|
|Flames vs Stars||Flames in 5||Flames in 7||HIT|
|Oilers vs Kings||Oilers in 6||Oilers in 7||HIT|
Here are my Round 2 predictions which included 3 of 4 hits.
|RD 2 MATCHUP||PREDICTION||RESULT||HIT/MISS|
|Panthers vs Lightning||Lightning in 7||Lightning in 4||HIT|
|Rangers vs Hurricanes||Rangers in 7||Rangers in 7||ON THE MONEY|
|Avalanche vs Blues||Avalanche in 6||Avalanche in 6||ON THE MONEY|
|Flames vs Oilers||Flames in 5||Oilers in 5||MISS|
Eastern Conference Final Preview and Prediction
New York Rangers (52-24-6) vs Lightning (51-23-8)
The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning will face-off in the Eastern Conference Final starting Wednesday night at 8 PM ET.
New York will be turning it around in just a day after beating the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night in Game 7. Meanwhile, Tampa will need to shake off 9 days worth of rust after sweeping the Florida Panthers in Round Two.
This series is going to come down to goaltending as two of the game’s very best in Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin square off. The team that can cause the most traffic in front and screen the goalie will win this series.
For the Rangers, they are as resilient a team as I’ve ever seen. After winning 27 games in comeback fashion during the regular season, they’ve won 5 straight elimination games in these playoffs.
I know I said in my last preview that until someone can beat the 2x time defending Stanley Cup Champions picking against them will be difficult. However, it’s time to start believing in these Rangers as they continue to find ways to win.
New York finished with one more win than Tampa which is why they have home-ice in the ECF. That could be the difference with the Lightning have played so much hockey in winning two Cups in consecutive seasons.
Prediction: Rangers beat Lightning in 7
Western Conference Final Preview and Prediction
Colorado Avalanche (56-19-7) vs Edmonton Oilers (49-27-6)
The Avs are the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup since the beginning of the year. Thus far they easily dispatched the Nashville Predators but showed signs against the St. Louis Blues they could be beaten.
Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers led by Connor McDavid took out the Calgary Flames with ease. Is this McDavid’s year? Are the Oilers a team of destiny? One thing is for sure, this is going to be a high-scoring affair.
While the ECF will be about two great goalies facing off, the Western Conference Final is looking at a Darcy Kuemper versus Mike Smith matchup. Both are capable goalies but will be facing some of the best offensive players in the game today.
Can Smith stop Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar more than Kuemper can halt McDavid and Draisaitl?
As much as the Oilers have been fun to watch, the Avalanche have more depth and home ice advantage to get to the Stanley Cup Final.
Prediction: Avalanche beat Oilers in 6