The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight at 7:15 PM ET. Washington and Boston will open the 2021 postseason action in what I believe will be one of many seven game series we will see. Let’s quickly review each match up and give a prediction.
East Division Round One Predictions
#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #4 New York Islanders
Of all the teams in the East Division, the Islanders struggled the most to close out the season. The Penguins were the exact opposite and one of the hottest teams in the league towards the end. This one is going to be a tough and low scoring affair, but Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, and Kris Letang will see them through round one.
Prediction: Penguins in six games
#2 Washington Capitals vs #3 Boston Bruins
Give me this series as a must watch. Zdeno Chara against his old team is a great side story in this series as well. The addition of Taylor Hall makes the Bruins no longer a one line team, and they do have the goaltending edge. However, give me Alex Ovechkin in a 7 games series any day.
Prediction: Capitals in seven games
Central Division Round One Predictions
#1 Carolina Hurricanes vs #4 Nashville Predators
I believe almost everyone and their grandmother have selected the Hurricanes to walk all over the Predators. Listen, that’s more likely to happen than what I am about to predict. The Preds got off to a terrible start but were amazing down the stretch and have playoff type players. I think they win this.
Prediction: Predators in seven games
#2 Florida Panthers vs #3 Tampa Bay Lightning
Guess who is back just in time for game one of the playoffs? Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. I picked Tampa to come out of the division a long time ago because of that and Andrei Vasilevskiy. This will also likely be the hardest series any team has coming out of the gate, but I like Tampa.
Prediction: Lightning in seven games
North Division Round One Predictions
#1 Toronto Maple Leafs vs #4 Montreal Canadiens
Dear NHL, please institute the mercy rule in this series. I don’t believe in the Leafs ability to defend or their goaltending but their offense is otherworldly. The Canadiens just don’t match up well. This will be the only sweep we see in the playoffs.
Prediction: Maple Leafs in four games
#2 Edmonton Oilers vs #3 Winnipeg Jets
The Jets were one of the worst teams in the league down the stretch. They may have ended the season winning their last two games, but this isn’t going to be a series they can win. Connor McDavid is too much to handle and he owns the Jets. I do expect Winnipeg to put up a fight though.
Prediction: Oilers in six games
West Division Round One Predictions
#1 Colorado Avalanche vs #4 St. Louis Blues
Believe it or not, I am not sure Colorado makes it by the Blues. I really struggled with this one, simply because the Blues are not built for the regular season but thrive in the playoffs. For me this one is a coin toss, but I put my money on the Avs early in this division and I will stick with them again.
Prediction: Avalanche in seven games
#2 Vegas Golden Knights vs #3 Minnesota Wild
The Golden Knights are good enough of this win this series. Yet, so are the Minnesota Wild. If the Caps and B’s are my go-to series on the East Coast, this one is mine on the West Coast. Hockey fans are going to love this one, but I will give it to the goaltending tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner as the difference maker here.
Prediction: Knights in seven games