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NHL Round 1 Playoff Preview and Predictions

East Division

(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (4) New York Islanders

Season Series: 6-2-0 Penguins

Offense: Penguins

Defense: Islanders

Goaltending: Islanders

The Penguins and Islanders rematch in the playoffs once again. In their last meeting in 2019, the Islanders shockingly swept the Penguins 4-0. The Penguins are looking to get revenge on the Islanders after a dominant regular season led by star center Sidney Crosby. On the flip side, the Islanders also had a solid regular season but heavily struggled after the trade deadline. Momentum is a huge part going into the playoffs and the Penguins have all the momentum which is why they will defeat the Islanders.

Prediction: Penguins in 6

(2) Washington Capitals vs (3) Boston Bruins

Season Series: 4-1-2 Bruins

Offense: Bruins

Defense: Capitals

Goaltending: Bruins

The Big Z, Zdeno Chara, is looking to get the better of his former team, the Boston Bruins, as the Capitals face off against the Bruins in what is expected to be a physical and intense series. The Capitals and Bruins are looked at as two of the most consistent and physical teams in the league, making the playoffs for the last 5+ seasons and bringing intensity in each and every game. The Capitals go into the Playoffs a little shaken up due to injuries/covid while the Bruins are heading into the playoffs red hot, after the acquisition of Taylor Hall. This series will be very close but the Bruins will squeak it out over the Capitals

Prediction: Bruins in 7

Central Division

(1) Carolina Hurricanes vs (4) Nashville Predators

Season Series: 6-2-0 Hurricanes

Offense: Hurricanes

Defense: Hurricanes

Goaltending: Predators

The Hurricanes and Predators looks to be a one sided series with the Hurricanes being one of the best teams in the league all throughout. The Hurricanes have star power and depth both offensively and defensively. On the flip side, the Predators do have depth but they are lacking that star power like most teams have. On top of that, the Predators just barely made the playoffs and struggled for the majority of the season. Their only hope is goaltender Juuse Saros who has been excellent this year and might be able to take one game from the Hurricanes.

Prediction: Hurricanes in 5

(2) Florida Panthers vs (3) Tampa Bay Lightning

Season Series: 5-2-1 Panthers

Offense: Lightning

Defense: Lightning

Goaltending: Lightning

It’s the Battle of Florida between the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Panthers have been one of the most surprising teams this year, going from an average team to a top 5 team in the whole league. Meanwhile, the defending Stanley Cup Champions Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to defend their championship, but have been fairly disappointing this season. However, star forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are going to return for the playoffs. Despite the Panthers taking the season series versus the Lightning, the return of Kucherov and Stamkos is why the Lightning will narrowly make it past the Panthers.

Prediction: Lightning in 7

North Division

(1) Toronto Maple Leafs vs (4) Montreal Canadiens

Season Series: 7-2-1 Maple Leafs

Offense: Maple Leafs

Defense: Maple Leafs

Goaltending: Canadiens

It is the battle between two longtime rivals, the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens. The Maple Leafs have been completely dominant this year, led by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander. The big question for the Leafs is whether Jack Campbell can continue his Cinderella story through the playoffs. For the Canadiens, they started off the season really hot, but have regressed throughout the season. The Canadiens are entering the playoffs a little hurt, but they do have the x-factor in the series, Carey Price. Despite his struggles this season, Price always seems to go off in the playoffs. Price might be able to take 2 games from the Maple Leafs, but the Maple Leafs will come out on top.

Prediction: Maple Leafs in 6

(2) Edmonton Oilers vs (3) Winnipeg Jets

Season Series: 7-2-0 Oilers

Offense: Oilers

Defense: Oilers

Goaltending: Jets

Two explosive offenses go head to head when the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers face off. This season the Oilers have had the Jets number with the Oilers beating the Jets 7 out of 9 times they have played. The main x-factor in their season series is Connor McDavid who cannot be stopped against the Jets with 24 points in those 9 games. McDavid is going to playoffs red hot and is looking to finally make it deep in the playoffs. With the Jets inability to stop McDavid all year long, the Oilers will quickly beat the Jets, who have heavily struggled since the trade deadline, going 4-10-0.

Prediction: Oilers in 5

West Division

(1) Colorado Avalanche vs (4) St.Louis Blues

Season Series: 5-3-0 Avalanche

Offense: Avalanche

Defense: Avalanche 

Goaltending: Avalanche

The Avalanche finished off the regular season with the most points, winning the President’s Trophy. The Avalanche have a stacked roster all throughout, led by Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog on offense, Cale Makar and Samuel Girard on defense on defense, and Philipp Grubauer in net. The Blues, on the other hand, have been a bit underwhelming this year, not living up to expectations. The Blues are a solid team but the Avalanche are much better in every aspect. The Avalanche will get rid of the Blues in the first round quickly.

Prediction: Avalanche in 5

(2) Vegas Golden Knights vs (3) Minnesota Wild

Season Series: 5-2-1 Wild

Offense: Golden Knights

Defense: Golden Knights

Goaltending: Golden Knights

This matchup will be extremely close as the Golden Knights were both great in the regular season and were in a tight playoff race. Ever since coming into the league in 2017-28, the Golden Knights have been one of the most consistent teams, making the playoffs every year and almost winning a Stanley Cup. The Wild had a very unexpected rise this year, led by rookie sensation Kirill Kaprizov, leading the Wild to a top 10 record in the league. But in the end, the Vegas Golden Knights will defeat the Wild due to their stronger team throughout and more experience compared to the Wild.

Prediction: Golden Knights in 7

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