NHL

NHL Playoff Predictions

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 10: Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) during the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 10, 2020 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NHL Playoff Predictions

After an extended break due to the novel coronavirus, the NHL is set to return on August 1st. With this year’s playoffs set to be unlike any other, let’s take a look at some first-round NHL Playoff predictions.

Note: First round in Best of 5.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs. Montreal Canadians (12)

Our Prediction: Pittsburgh in 4 games

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to prove to be too much for Montreal to handle. After four months off, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are going to be next to unstoppable. Plus, Jake Guentzel will be returning from injury. Don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh sweeps Montreal in three straight games.

DENVER, CO - MARCH 11: Colorado Avalanche Defenseman Cale Makar (8) takes a shot during a regular season game between the Colorado Avalanche and the visiting New York Rangers on March 11, 2020 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO.
Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Carolina Hurricanes (6) vs. New York Rangers (11)

Our Prediction: New York in 4 games

This series should be close for the most part, but New York has the edge. Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad both turned themselves into legitimate superstars this season, and it’ll be next to impossible for Carolina to contain them.

EAST MEADOW, NEW YORK - JULY 13: Grant Hutton #45 of the New York Islanders skates in practice at the Northwell Health Ice Center on July 13, 2020 in East Meadow, New York. This is the first practice for the team since the NHL paused it's season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Islanders (7) vs. Florida Panthers (10)

Our Prediction: New York in 5 games

Although Florida had a better season than most expected, and players like Jonathan Huberdeau and Noel Acciari had breakout years, New York will take this close series. Matthew Barzal will be too much for the Panthers to handle, and Jean Gabriel-Pageau will likely find his touch as well.

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 10: Toronto Maple Leafs Right Wing Kasperi Kapanen (24) skates with the puck during the NHL regular season game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 10, 2020, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON, Canada
Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs (8) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (9)

Our Prediction: Toronto in 4 games

This should be an entertaining series to watch, but the Leafs offense will be too much for Columbus. The Blue Jackets will have no answer for Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and the Maple Leafs other top forwards.

Western Conference

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 14: Kevin Lankinen #34 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a glove save during a summer training camp practice at Fifth Third Arena on July 14, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers (5) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (12)

Our Prediction: Chicago in 5 games

Despite the fact that the Oilers are heavy favorites in this series, I’m going with Chicago for one reason; Patrick Kane. Patrick Kane lights up the Oilers every time he faces them, and I expect him to do the same this series. Aside from Kane, the Hawks also have Toews, Debrincat, as well as rookie sensation Dominik Kubalik on the blueline who should help them take this series.

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 10: Dante Fabbro (57) of the Nashville Predators skates during the second period of the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and the Montreal Canadiens on March 10, 2020, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC
Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nashville Predators (6) vs. Arizona Coyotes (11)

Our Prediction: Nashville in 4 games

With young pieces in Clayton Keller, Barrett Hayton, and Christian Dvorak, the Arizona Coyotes have a promising future, but they’re not enough to help them succeed yet. With one of the best defensive corps in the National Hockey League, as well as a handful of explosive forwards, Nashville should take this series.

VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 18: Vancouver Canucks Defenseman Quinn Hughes (43) takes a shot during the Vancouver Canucks Training Camp at Rogers Arena on July 18th, 2020 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Vancouver Canucks (7) vs. Minnesota Wild (10)

Our Prediction: Vancouver in 5 games

Vancouver surprised a lot of people this season by making the playoffs and now they’re likely to make it to the second round, at least. The Canucks have a plethora of young, explosive forwards capable of putting the puck in the net, including Elias Pettersson, Jake Virtanen, Adam Gaudette, among others. The playoff experience of Tyler Toffoli and J.T. Miller should also be valuable towards the Canucks. 

EDMONTON, AB - MARCH 11: Cody Eakin #20 of the Winnipeg Jets skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on March 11, 2020, in Edmonton, Canada.
Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Calgary Flames (8) vs. Winnipeg Jets (9)

Our Prediction: Winnipeg in 5 games

Out of all eight series, this Canadian clash should not only be the most exciting to watch but will also likely be the closest series. The Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames are very evenly matched up front, on the blue line, and in goal. Winnipeg’s top 6 forwards, including Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, and Mark Scheifele, should help Winnipeg narrowly edge out the Flames.

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