The other day, I put out my qualifying round picks, with explanations. To save some time for you, my picks were as follows:
Order of Round Robin:
East: Bruins, Lightning, Flyers, Capitals
West: Avalanche, Stars, Blues, Golden Knights
Qualifying Series winners (their seed):
East: Penguins (5), Rangers (11), Islanders (7), Blue Jackets (9)
West: Oilers (5), Predators (6), Canucks (7), Jets (9)
The NHL did not officially announce whether the teams would play in a bracket-style or play the traditional high seed plays low seed style. No matter what it ends up being, be sure to stay posted on Philly Sports Network’s Flyers team to see our predictions on this (now very long) road to the Stanley Cup. For the sake of our articles, we will be using a bracket style based off of the style below:
#1 Bruins vs. #9 Blue Jackets
In the case of the Bruins, I’m going to pick them without thought until they reach a seven game series with one of the top four teams. Columbus is overpowered in comparison to the Bruins. Even if the Leafs come out of that qualifying series, the B’s should cruise by either of these teams. Considering the Jackets have beaten the Bruins both times they’ve played them, I don’t think this series will be a breeze for Boston. However, Boston should take this one, and if it’s more than five games, I’d be shocked.
#4 Capitals vs. #5 Penguins
Now this is some playoff hockey I’d pay to watch.
The Penguins and Capitals are two very comparable teams. Both have the playoff experience, and both have an elite goalscorer. The Capitals led the regular season series 2-1 over the Pens, but two of those wins came against a slumping Pittsburgh squad. I have a good feeling this series goes to six or seven games due to the competitive nature and vibe this match up will have. No matter how much I can despise Pittsburgh, if they’re going to be clicking and coming off a sweep of the Canadiens, it’s hard to pick against them in this series.
Pittsburgh takes this one in seven.
#2 Lightning vs. #7 Islanders
On paper, this series sounds like a blowout in favor of Tampa Bay. Tampa is going to be the clear favorite in this series, as the Islanders were 12 points below Tampa in the standings. New York has beaten Tampa twice this season, scoring at least five goals in both wins back in December. The Islanders are a solid team for how low their seed is, but I think they meet their match with an experienced Tampa squad.
Tampa takes this series in five or six.
#3 Flyers vs. #11 Rangers
Ah, the series in the East most of us will be anticipating.
If the Rangers would have drawn almost any other team in the first round, I do think they would compete and potentially make it through. New York is a young and talented team, similar to the Hurricanes last season. The Flyers, however, are on the same exact track. Philadelphia has had New York’s number all season, beating them all three times this season, scoring at least give goals in all three contests. This series should be full of energy and could hopefully spark the rivalry between these two again for the years to come, but Philly should take this one fairly easily.
Flyers will take this one in six games. I know I said easily, but rivalry series’ never go as planned.
#1. Avalanche vs. #9 Jets
These two teams have met twice this season, splitting the season series. Both match ups have been high scoring affairs, displaying the offensive dominance of both squads. Winnipeg was clicking right before the break, winning five of their last six. However, Colorado will be coming in as one of the hottest teams all season, and coming off the momentum of claiming the one seed in the round robin.
Colorado takes this series in six games.
#4. Golden Knights vs. #5. Oilers
Vegas, in my opinion, is still one of the coolest stories I’ve ever watched. From making a cup run in their inaugural season, to still sustaining dominance through this season, they are truly a cinderella story. Edmonton on the other hand had to go through their own rough rebuild to get to this point. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisitl have essentially been playing on a brand new Xbox while the rest of the league is playing on Kindles, and have purely dominated each time they have been on the ice. The Golden Knights have beaten the Oilers two of the three times these teams have matched up, and I think that they can click enough to sneak past the Oilers. Next year, though, I could see Edmonton doing some damage.
Vegas wins this series in seven.
#2. Stars vs. #7 Canucks
It’s notable to mention that the Stars have beaten the Canucks both times these teams have squared off this season. Dallas may be the third worst scoring team, but they’re the second best defending team. Vancouver, on the other hand, was a top eight scoring team, with a middle of the road defense. I honestly think this series could go either way, but I don’t think the young Canucks team is going to be able to take down the more experienced Stars team.
Dallas takes this series in seven.
#3. Blues vs. #6 Predators
As described in my last article, the Predators have been an up and down team this season. It’s been so bad that I could see the Coyotes taking them down in the qualifying round too. However, the first round is typically about star players, which is how the Preds squeeze through. The second round, on the other hand, typically turns more into team depth, which is where the Blues heavily outweigh Nashville. St. Louis should definitely be a higher seed anyways, but get bounced around a bit in the round robin.
Blues take this series in five.
Again, the NHL did not officially announce whether the teams would play in a bracket-style or play the traditional high seed plays low seed style. No matter what it ends up being, be sure to stay posted on Philly Sports Network’s Flyers team to see our predictions on this (now very long) road to the Stanley Cup.
Make sure to also check out the video with a much more detailed analysis of my qualifying round picks: