NHL Playoff Prediction: Western Conference Round 1

Eastern Conference prediction can be found here.

(C1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (WC2) Nasvhille Predators

The Blackhawks finished atop the Western Conference once again and drew the Predators in the first round. A lot of Chicago’s success this season came from young players, like Tyler Motte and Nick Schmaltz, finally breaking through. Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin were dominant yet again, and Jonathan Toews picked up his game near the end of the year.

The Predators main concern has to be goaltending. Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros are not a bad tandem, but Rinne especially has not been as good in recent years as he was in the past.

Much like Washington, it’s hard to bet against Chicago early on in the playoffs.

Verdict: Chicago in 6

(C2) Minnesota Wild vs. (C3) St. Louis Blues 

For the second time in three years, the Wild and Blues will be facing off in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Wild won the series 4-2 the last time around.

The Wild are much better this year than they were two years ago and the Blues are much worse. The goaltending for the Blues is a specific concern, as they do not have a stable 1/2 tandem anymore with Brian Elliott gone.

A key factor, in my opinion, for this series is Zach Parise and Eric Staal. If the two veterans can step up for Minnesota, they’ll experience success in a big way.

Verdict: Minnesota in 6

(P1) Anaheim Ducks vs. (WC1) Calgary Flames 

This is the most interesting first round matchup this season. The Ducks only had a halfway decent season under Randy Carlyle, despite the fact that they finished first in their division.

As for the Flames, they’re a pesky squad. Matthew Tkachuk has proved, in just one season, to be one of the best pests in the league. Brian Elliott has also proved to be a good backbone in net that the Flames, something they have not had in a few years.

Verdict: Flames in 6

(P2) Edmonton Oilers vs. (P3) San Jose Sharks

Lead by Connor McDavid, and for the first time since 2006, the Oilers are back in the playoffs. The resurgence of the Oilers has been remarkable to watch. McDavid, Draisaitl, and Talbot have been nothing short of spectacular this season.

For the Sharks, they’re coming off a Stanley Cup Final appearance in which they lost to the Penguins. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are coming into unrestricted free agency this summer and time is running out for both of them.

In terms of the series, this should be an exciting one. It’s hard to find two hungrier teams for a deep playoff run than the Oilers and Sharks. Connor McDavid shifting into a second gear is a scary thought as well, at least for the rest of the NHL.

Verdict: Sharks in 7

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

NHL Playoff Prediction: Eastern Conference Round 1

The NHL playoffs are upon us and the guessing game can now begin. The NHL playoffs usually come with plenty of excitement and surprises, so many times it can prove difficult to predict what will happen. Regardless, here’s a go at it.

Read the rest of this entry

The fight for the final NHL playoff spot will come down to the last weekend 

Heading into the final weekend of the NHL season, fifteen out of the sixteen playoff teams have been determined. The last spot remaining is in the Eastern Conference and has come down to the Maple Leafs, Islanders, and Lightning. 

With a shootout win over Boston on Thursday night, the Ottawa Senators locked up their playoff hopes. On that same night, both the Islanders and Lightning won in regulation while the Maple Leafs lost in regulation. The young Toronto team now finds themselves in a precarious situation, however they do control their own destiny. 

All three teams currently sit with 80 games played. Toronto has 93 points, whereas Tampa Bay and New York each have 90. In terms of ROW (regulation plus overtime wins), the denoted first tie breaker in the NHL, Toronto has 38, the Islanders have 37, and Tampa Bay has 36. 

For scheduling, Toronto has definitely been dealt the worst hand on the surface. They play Columbus and Pittsburgh over the final three days of the season. However, both of those teams have already punched their ticket to the playoffs and already have their seeding (second and third place in the Metropolitan Division respectively) locked down. The Penguins and Blue Jackets technically have nothing to play for heading into the final weekend, so it is possible that they will rest their star players and starting goalies. But, the argument could be made that the Penguins and Blue Jackets want to win in order to pass the Blackhawks in points, in the case that one of those teams meets up with Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final. 

The Islanders and Lightning each play a team in the playoffs and a team outside of the playoffs in their final two games. For the Islanders it is going to be New Jersey and Ottawa, and for Tampa Bay it is going to be Montreal and Buffalo. 

In order for Toronto to fall out of a playoff position, they have to lose their final two games in regulation and either the Islanders or Tampa Bay need to win their final two games. If Toronto loses one game in overtime or a shootout and loses the other in regulation, only the Islanders can overtake them if they win both of their games in regulation. Two overtime or shootout losses by Toronto would put them into the playoffs. 

There are still a lot of moving parts and a lot can change over the course of the next 72 hours. Tampa Bay plays tomorrow, Friday night, in Montreal. A loss of any kind and they will be eliminated from playoff contention. 

Although there is not as much as usual, the end of the NHL season will have some drama to keep an eye on. Toronto has their fate in their own hands, but New York and Tampa Bay remain knocking at the door. 

Keep up with our Twitter for updates on the playoff race. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

Mock NHL Expansion Draft – Edition II (Vegas Golden Knights) 

Mock Vegas Golden Knights Expansion Draft: Edition 2 Read the rest of this entry

Three winners and three losers from the 2017 NHL trade deadline 

The 2017 NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Quite frankly, it was pretty boring this year. No big or surprising names were moved. However, there was certainly enough action to determine winners or losers of the past few days.

Read the rest of this entry

The Ultimate Guide to the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline: Eastern Conference Edition

The Ultimate Guide to the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline: Eastern Conference Edition

Read the rest of this entry

A match made in heaven? Colorado could have a perfect trading partner for Duchene 

Not much has been going right for the Colorado Avalanche this season, however they do have the chance to do now what other teams sometimes dream of: start over.

Read the rest of this entry

Trade Possibility: Tyler Johnson 

Despite Steven Stamkos’ long-term injury at the start of the season, few picked the Tampa Bay Lightning to miss the playoffs. They’ve gone through this before without their captain multiple times — when he broke his leg and when he suffered from blood clots.

Read the rest of this entry

Three surprising players that could be traded in the next few months 

In less than six months, the entire shape of the NHL will be shifted.

Read the rest of this entry

Looking back at the Jack Capuano era in New York 

The Jack Capuano era, which started on November 15, 2010, is officially over in New York.

Read the rest of this entry

Five players who are likely to be moved at the 2017 NHL trade deadline 

The trade deadline is almost upon us, and so far it is unclear what will happen when it officially rolls around. With expansion on the horizon, trades are at an all time low. The market is stagnant. However, that could change when teams feel the crunch before playoff time. Here are five players likely to move at or before the February 28th trade deadline.

Read the rest of this entry

The shootout has become a necessary evil for hockey 

The ending of the World Juniors championship game between Canada and the United States has been causing quite a stir in the hockey world.

Read the rest of this entry