Here we go. We’ve looked into the crystal ball twice now. The qualifying round is behind us and we’ve seen a surprise or two in the opening round in the seven-game series that decide the teams who will make it into the round of eight. What happens next? It’s time to find out.
Boston Bruins vs Pittsburgh Penguins
This is going to be a juicy matchup as games between these two eastern conference powerhouses always are. But I’ll always think back to 2013 where the Bruins pulled out a 3-0 series lead over the Pens to basically end any hopes of a comeback. I get that same vibe with this team. Boston’s roster is too big and bad for the Pens to overcome.
Winner: Boston Bruins
Philadelphia Flyers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
This isn’t ideal. The Lightning have had Vigneault’s number on both occasions where the teams have met this season and it’s a lot of firepower for Carter Hart to have to extinguish. Am I crazy for thinking the Flyers could get past them though?
The Flyers killed off 9 power-play opportunities across those two games and Carter Hart made 27 saves in the 1-0 loss. If the defense and special teams can fortify the Castle for Hart to rule, then maybe, just maybe, the Flyers can find a way past. It’ll go the distance, but I think Philly can pull it off.
Winner: Philadelphia Flyers
St. Louis Blues vs Edmonton Oilers
Just how far can the NHL’s biggest wonderkid push the Oilers? There would be no greater test than the defending champs, right? The Oilers are 1-2 against the Blues this year and realistically, I just don’t think they have enough horsepower to get past, especially if Pieterangelo continues to terrorize them.
Winner: St. Louis Blues
Vegas Golden Knights vs Arizona Coyotes
This is tricky. The Coyotes are my longshot hopefuls here but they’re coming up against a team that just feels like it’s built for postseason play. Vegas won this series 3-1 in regular-season play and much like the Blues, I feel like the cream will rise to the top here.
Winner: Vegas Golden Knights
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre