The NHL playoffs are becoming a reality. Time to dive into some early predictions about who I believe will win the first round, or play-in, series from both conferences. Going through the matchups, there are a few that I believe are slam dunks. To my surprise, I was caught up on a couple of matchups that I think could go either way. They might not be the ones you think.
Eastern Conference Series
Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Rangers
- WINNER – New York Rangers in 5 games
New York Islanders vs Florida Panthers
- WINNER – Florida Panthers in 4 games
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Montreal Canadiens
- WINNER – Pittsburgh Penguins in 4 games
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Columbus Blue Jackets
- WINNER – Toronto Maple Leafs in 5 games
Western Conference Series
Vancouver Canucks vs Minnesota Wild
- WINNER – Vancouver Canucks in 4 games
Calgary Flames vs Winnipeg Jets
- WINNER – Winnipeg Jets in 3 games
Nashville Predators vs Arizona Coyotes
- WINNER – Nashville Predators in 5 games
Edmonton Oilers vs Chicago Blackhawks
- WINNER – Edmonton Oilers in 5 games
A hot goaltender can sway an entire series by themselves. Carey Price seems to be the hot name thrown around when talking about that. I think that the guy that fits that idea better is Corey Crawford. The two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie has proven that he is capable of taking over games. It doesn’t hurt having elite talents like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the team too. I think that Edmonton / Chicago series could go either way.
Another matchup that could go either way, is the Nashville / Arizona series. Again, goaltending could be the ultimate factor. A healthy Darcey Kuemper has been as dominant as any goalie in the league. He only appeared in 29 games this season, but his .928sv%, and 2.22 GAA was top three in the league (among goalies that played at least 29 games).
The round-robin series to determine the 1-4 seeding, and the reseeding process after each round, makes it impossible to predict any further. Rest assured, more predictions will be coming as the rounds become more clear.
Let’s hear your predictions!
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